BAGHDAD, Iraq – Most Americans know the Green Zone as the four-square-mile fortress in central Baghdad that houses coalition and Iraqi officials behind blast walls and razor wire. A lesser-known reality of the compound is that nearly 10,000 ordinary Iraqis live there as well.
"Since day one we have been working with the American forces. Everyone knows that, so we can't go out. If we go out we will get killed," said an Iraqi woman who asked that her name not be used.
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The woman's job offers her a higher salary than the average, but one that comes with the price of fearing for her safety. Her daughter, who is married to a U.S. soldier and also lives in the Green Zone, worries about the family's future.
"It's dangerous to get out of the Green Zone because there's a lot of bad people watching us, watching you get in and out, so it's really dangerous. You don't know when you're going to get killed, because it's happened to a lot of the employees who work here," she said.
Her mother lives in a house with her four sisters and brother. She said the Iraqi government forced the family out of two other homes inside the Green Zone to make room for officials.
Although the family owns a much nicer house elsewhere in Iraq, they chose to live in worse conditions in exchange for better security.
While there are no plans for U.S. troops to pull out in the foreseeable future, the mother worries about what a withdrawal would mean for her family.
"If there's no Green Zone I won't stay in Iraq. No Green Zone, no Americans. I definitely would leave the country," she said.