Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Transfer Raises Security Fears

Most Baghdadis predict more instability, but some confident new Iraqi authorities will cope.
By Muhammad Fawzi

Shortly after the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime, unemployed Safa Mansour, 31, decided to work as a taxi driver like many other Iraqis.

Mansour sold his family's possessions, including his wife's gold, to buy a car, but it was soon stolen by armed carjackers in broad daylight.

Today, Mansour fears another breakdown of civil authority - such as accompanied the overthrow of the former regime - as well as an upsurge in extremist bomb attacks.

"I am afraid that insecurity will increase. Also, I am hesitant to leave my house for fear of injuries because of the many explosions," he told IWPR.

Most Baghdad residents interviewed by IWPR across the capital expressed concerns that security may deteriorate with the transfer of sovereignty.

"I prefer the American forces to remain instead of transferring power," said English teacher Dawood Salman, 45. The number of explosions in the last ten days were proof, he said, that US forces did a better job than Iraqis in keeping order.”

Those suspicious of the Americans’ intentions believe they deliberately delayed the handover so that militants would have longer to establish themselves in the country.

"The Americans delayed transferring power because they hate the Iraqis. The absence of any government gave many opportunities for terrorists to set off explosions," said one man, who refused to give his name, but claimed to have formerly worked in the intelligence service.

Some of those interviewed hoped that an Iraqi government would be able to solve the country’s security problems, saying that Iraqi leaders would understand what they are up against.

"The transfer should have happened a long time ago," said Basem Riyadh, 53, a civil servant at the ministry of education. "The Americans don't know anything about Iraq, and it's better for the Iraqis to solve their problems themselves."

"If security is in Iraqi hands, the Iraqis can handle it, because they know all the terrorists' tricks," said day- labourer Mustafa Alwan, 35.

The transfer of power is "good is for the people who want stability and safety... [and] not good for the people who want to destroy the country", said Radwan Abd al-Amir, 42, an employee at the courthouse in the west Baghdad district of al-Bayaa.

"Iraqis have shown in the past that they can control the situation," said Abd al-Amir, who added that he was a former member of the ruling Baath party.

Others don’t believe the handover will change very much, as Coalition forces are to stay in the country.

"I don't care if power is transferred or not," said law student Ahmed al-Hadithi, 25. "American forces will remain, and that's proof that nothing good can happen."

"I want just to finish my studies without any explosions and without any death," he said.

Muhammad Fawzi is an IWPR trainee in Baghdad.

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