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Baghdad Residents Ponder New Way of Life on Second Anniversary of Iraq War

Scott Bobb

At least three Iraqi policemen have been killed and seven others wounded by a bomb in the northern city of Kirkuk. The blast came on the second anniversary of the start of the Iraq War, a milestone that passed quietly in Iraq and was not marked by the newly elected Iraqi parliament or U.S.-led forces. Correspondent Scott Bobb talked to some Iraqis on the occasion and has this report from Baghdad.

The second anniversary of the start of the war that toppled the 35-year regime of Saddam Hussein passed without ceremony inside Iraq. Many Iraqis spent their weekend at home, while parliamentary leaders elected last January haggled over the formation of the new government.

A barber in the commercial district of central Baghdad, Najamaldin al-Janabi, took a break from shaving a customer to explain that although things are bad, he remains hopeful.

Mr. Najamaldin says the situation is worse than two years ago and Iraqis, especially the poor, are suffering more than ever. He says he remains optimistic, although as yet he does not see any light at the end of the tunnel.

Nisreen Nezher, a 28-year-old office worker for a private company, says the situation is better than before, but not as good as she hoped.

She says the U.S.-led coalition that toppled Saddam Hussein promised to improve security, but that has not happened. And in two years the United States - a superpower, she says - has failed to restore basic services like reliable electrical power and clean water.

The owner of a cosmetics shop in the middle-class Karaba district, Salah Wali Merza, says the police now patrol his street and as a result he feels safer from the gangsters that once preyed upon the neighborhood. But he says business still is bad.

Mr. Merza points to the shelves in his store. He says they are almost empty but he does not dare to restock them. Insurgents recently exploded six mortars behind his street, and now people are too frightened to come out and shop.

Mohammed Hussein owns a restaurant on the banks of the Tigris River that specializes in grilled fish, a Baghdad specialty.

Mr. Mohammed says government workers have become the new aristocrats because their salaries have tripled since the fall of Saddam. But his business is suffering, because American forces up the street have blocked access to his restaurant and only his most loyal clients now come by to eat.

Many Iraqis acknowledge that they now enjoy more individual liberties, such as freedom of expression and political association. But they also say that after decades of suffering under Saddam Hussein, they expected the war that overthrew him to bring greater peace and prosperity than it has so far.

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