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Archive for Sunday, June 26, 2005

Violence reigns 1 year after sovereignty

June 26, 2005

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— After four car bombs devastated a predominantly Shiite Baghdad commercial area and killed 15 people, residents reflected on the everyday problems of living in Iraq.

"Life has become impossible in Iraq," an infuriated Rasheed al-Baldawy said as he surveyed the devastation outside his store on Friday.

Embittered by what some see as betrayal by Iraq's post-Saddam Hussein rulers, they spoke of the chronic power and water shortages in Baghdad's searing summer heat. They also expressed bewilderment over a two-year Sunni-dominated insurgency that is increasingly targeting Shiites in an apparent bid to ignite a civil war.

One year after Iraq regained its sovereignty from the United States, the country has made significant political progress, holding a crucial election and forming a new government. Yet relentless attacks have overshadowed the success, leaving Iraqis in a perilous situation - facing the growing prospect of years of violence.

For Washington, that could mean years more of a large and costly military presence in Iraq.

In this hot and very bloody summer in Iraq, sectarian tensions are high, insurgents are maintaining a two-month-old surge in attacks and the Americans show no sign of pulling out.

A historic election was held in January, giving Iraq its first democratically elected government in decades and scoring a major moral victory over the insurgency.

Most Iraqis are convinced the United States remains the real power in their country a year after it handed over the reins on June 28, 2004, to an interim government led by Ayad Allawi, a secular Shiite politician with close links to Washington.

Regardless of who is in charge, Iraq is a country that is unlikely to get a respite anytime soon. It's people have been visited by so many tragedies in the past two years that some, from time to time, look back with nostalgia at aspects of life under Saddam.

Since al-Jaafari came to office nearly two months ago, at least 1,240 people have been killed. More than 1,700 U.S. troops have died since the war began in March, 2003.

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