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Thanks for replying. I'm about two weeks behind you.
I have read that it's NOT a good idea for western males to travel together as they may be mistaken for coalition soldiers/special forces whatever and they may therefore become a target. I will not be wearing any shade of green or khaki in any of my clothing and although I need a haircut, I will wait until after Iraq. I just do not want to be mistaken for military at all. That could be a serious problem. What do you think?
I also speak about 200 words of Arabic. Do you think that's a good or a bad thing? Is it best not to speak any Arabic whilst there?
I agree about the haircut. Better to not look like a soldier.
The will assume you are CIA unless they get to know you, so I my opinion you must do your best to be a real person. I am a hobo more or less and cheap. People that pay a lot of money are being paid to come here.
The Arabic is good.
Say a few word, but be careful if they want to be too inqusitive in the Arabic language. Better to stay on the language you know in a country that is frustrated and looking for a reason.
When in doubt in any country. I suddenly can not answer any questions in the local lauguage. I am then just an ignorant American, they think I am stupid, and they are smart. This make them feel good and stops the problem. Fortunately in this country there is not the normal pile of corrupt policeman around to shake you down.