Reflections of an Iraqi Journalist

Here’s Faris al-Qaisi, a 47-year-old Iraqi cameraman for AP Television News, reflecting on “what it has been like to live through and record the war” in Iraq and on the declared end of the American combat mission there:

For me, living in Saddam’s Iraq and in the Iraq under the U.S. occupation was equally hard, but I don’t want the American military to leave Iraq because the security forces cannot protect us. I’ve lived the past seven years in fear: from the Sunnis who killed journalists and from the Shiites who killed Omars.

Although I have frequently been in trouble because of my work, I did not quit for two reasons: I must support my family, and I love it.

Journalism is an amazing way of life. It’s more than a job for me. What I experience every day helps me expand my horizons, to always look beyond. I love filming. It brings me happiness and joy. And I risked my life many times to have a moment of happiness.

My family came back to Iraq in 2008 [after fleeing to Damascus in 2006], but last year I started to think of us leaving the country for ever.

I want my kids to have a future. I do not see them having one in Iraq.

(Just when President Obama gave Americans permission last week from the Oval Office, as George Packer put it, to “start not thinking about the war without feeling guilty”…)

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.