Five months since the U.S. troop surge began, Baghdad is seeing fewer car bombs and sectarian killings -- but is still a very fearful city, with residents increasingly confining themselves to their own neighborhoods, not daring to travel far across the city.
In April we visited a number of neighborhoods in central Baghdad to see how the surge was affecting life there, and we recently revisited those neighborhoods and found that if anything, people today are more cautious than they were when we first met them. (Click here to read Terry McCarthy's April report.)
Mohammed Hassan, who owns an ice cream store in the Babil district, had his entire shop destroyed by a car bomb two weeks after we first visited. Nine people were killed. He has had the shop rebuilt, and is back serving ice cream now -- but he is nervous and has hired guards to check each car on the street outside that tries to park in front of his store.
The imam in the mosque that we visited in the Zaiyuna district tells us that his guards watch everyone who comes to pray, and if they see someone whose face they don't recognize, they will stop and search him.
The stores are still busy in the Karadah shopping district. Security is strong here, with multiple checkpoints on all the approach roads, a heavy police presence on the streets and a host of new concrete barriers to contain bomb explosions.
The amusement park in Zawra -- Baghdad's biggest -- is always a favorite place to visit. Families bring their children, security is good and there are few places in Baghdad where you can see large numbers of people enjoying themselves out in the open. But the people we spoke to in the park were families who'd lived nearby for the most part, as families don't feel safe traveling from distant neighborhoods to the park.
People in Baghdad say they are angry about how the United States has allowed their city to plunge into such violence. But when we ask them about a withdrawal of U.S. troops, most say a sudden troop departure would make things worse.
Security may have improved, but Baghdad still doesn't feel like a safe city -- nor does it feel like a happy city.