[Sorry, the video for this story has expired, but you can still read the transcript below. ]
RAY SUAREZ: What was today like in Baghdad?
SIMON ROBINSON: It was an interesting day. It was the first day where people, residents of the Baghdad came out onto the streets in really large numbers. There were traffic jams this morning, which was a surprise after the last few days where there were few cars on the road from those who were participating in the looting that was seen in the city. But there were shops open today, people selling eggs by the side of the road, which I think is a nice symbol of how some sense of security is coming back to the city. Restaurants were open. People were able to get out and buy fruits and bread and other kind of staples. And an interesting day perhaps overnight, people feeling that at least certain parts of the city were secure enough to begin normalizing.
RAY SUAREZ: Did the looting continue on Saturday?
SIMON ROBINSON: It did in part. In fact, the museum, the national museum it was discovered had been looted and there was some looting still this morning there. But it was not nearly as widespread as we saw on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
RAY SUAREZ: Is the electricity back on?
SIMON ROBINSON: No, not for most of the city. I’m looking over at the moment to west Baghdad, and there are a couple of pinpoints of light that I can see, and compared to the previous nights that’s the first time I’ve seen them. But in most of eastern Baghdad has been in darkness, a few buildings have power by generator. And when I look down to the South, most in southern Baghdad actually has their power, but I don’t think they ever lost it, so most of the city is still without power.
RAY SUAREZ: Are the American forces still working on the assumption that there are a lot of people who could be considered the enemy still in the city?
SIMON ROBINSON: I’m not sure it’s a lot — they’re working on the assumption there’s a lot. But there was a terrific, terrific kind of fire fight this afternoon — quite a lot of outgoing fire from American forces across the river, into, from the east side of the river, quite close to the area where we saw the statue fall on Wednesday into a compound on the west side of the river. And I was watching that firefight and there were incoming rounds — not a whole lot, especially compared to the overwhelming fire power that the Americans were putting down, but, nevertheless, obviously some people still very, very unhappy that the Americans are here and prepared at least this afternoon to fight. It didn’t last that long, and compared to some of the other battles in this war it wasn’t huge but certainly the busiest the marines around the area that we saw secured on Wednesday have been since then.
RAY SUAREZ: It sounds like you’re describing a city that’s operating more normally than it has in recent weeks. Are people feeling more emboldened, more secure about talking to you, about what’s really on their minds?
SIMON ROBINSON: I think so. I think it depends on two things, one is time, and as you point out as time goes on they’re feeling slightly more emboldened. Another thing is the areas, because each area you go into it has a very different feel to it. And there are some areas, especially where there is a strong U.S. presence, that are beginning to feel quite secure and there’s been a noticeable difference in the last couple of days where that U.S. presence has been stepped up. I wouldn’t exactly call what they’re doing policing yet. But certainly they’re on the street corners watching what’s going on. I was queuing up today to buy some bread and saw someone attempting to loot a shop, and some marines kind of wandered up to that person and pointed out that perhaps that wasn’t a good thing to do. So I don’t think that — they weren’t stepping in to arrest someone like that, but their mere presence is having an effect. There are other parts of the city, however, where perhaps there isn’t as strong a U.S. presence, and those parts are still fairly lawless.
RAY SUAREZ: Simon Robinson from Time Magazine, thanks for checking in.
SIMON ROBINSON: Thank you.