With the withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from Iraq complete, and a formal handover of command to Iraqi forces days away, many Iraqi's fear for their future. The government's inability to form a ruling coalition since March and the recent wave of bombings across the country have put the country in a precarious situation.
We sat down with a Iraqi family in Baghdad who offered to share iftar with us, the evening meal that breaks the daily fast during the month of Ramadan. In the spirit of the holy holidays, they graciously shared their hopes and fears for the country with us.
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As the sun dip's toward the horizon, Samira Majeed puts the finishing touches on iftar, the evening meal that breaks the fast during the holy month of Ramadan.
She is a Shia. Her Husband Feraas Hussein, is Sunni. Like many Iraqi families they have experienced their share of sectarian violence over the last seven years, and are worried about the timing of the U.S. withdrawal. "Everybody likes freedom, and I would prefer that the Americans leave, but not at this time. I fear sectarian violence will come back like 2006, 2007," he said.
They have been threatened by militia's on both sides. Their ground-floor apartment in a mixed Sunni/Shia neighborhood of Baghdad has been destroyed by car bombs twice.
Samira says the inability to form a unity government since the March elections is the cause of the recent surge in violence. She says, a strong prime minister like the politically secular Shi'ite, Ayad Allawi, could stop it. "Because there are many militia's like the Mahdi army and others, we need a strong leader. And I think Ayad Allawi is the best man. He is not sectarian, he is tough and clever and will lead Iraq very well," she said.
Feraas is not so optimistic. He says the politicians have a hand in the current violence. He thinks the sectarian violence between the people is just a smoke screen. The real battle, he says, is over control of the country's assets, like Iraq's vast oil reserves. "The politicians want control of certain assets in the country. If they are allowed to take what they want, the situation will be stable and the situation will be good. But, if they don't get what they want, then the sectarian violence will come back. And it will be worse than before," he said.
If the violence does come back, Ferras says he will take his family and leave Iraq forever, possibly to Syria. Water and electricity he can buy, he told us. What his family needs the most is security.