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Last Updated: Monday, 10 September 2007, 13:15 GMT 14:15 UK
Viewpoints: Iraq surge
Coalition troops inspect a house in Baghdad
The "surge" has been underway for six months
The BBC World Service has been talking to Baghdad residents, gathering their views of the US military surge in their city.

The US deployed an extra 30,000 troops in Iraq this year, bringing their number up to nearly 170,000.

But a survey by the BBC suggests that about 70% of Iraqis believe security has deteriorated in the area covered by the surge.

Six residents told BBC World Service's The World Today programme their own personal view of the impact of the surge.

Click on the links below to read what they have to say.

Mohammed Karim Hassan, Shia Muslim English teacher

Abdul, Sunni Muslim engineer

Kurkies Ishou, Christian party Bait Al-Tahrain

Ahmed Tadhom al-Shiva, lecturer at Baghdad University

Rasoul Iramish, bus driver

Hussein Kadhom Al-Shimiri, Iraqi police officer

Mohammed Karim Hassan is a Shia Muslim English teacher who lives with his family in the Amin district.

Boy walks past a burned-out car following a bomb attack in Amin
Mohammed's Amin neighbourhood has suffered a number of bombings
I live in the east of Baghdad. I'm married with four children - three boys and a girl.

We often joke that we are geniuses in war, because we have lived with war with Iran [sometimes referred to as the first Gulf War], the Gulf War [in response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait], and this, the third one.

From the bombs, what can I say? We are scared.

When the American troops first came to Baghdad, we thought - and we saw, actually - that democracy was coming, that freedom was coming, that the dictator's time was gone.

But the problem is, day by day, we have seen a different thing. So now we say we would like to go back to Saddam's time.

I'm a Shia and this is my opinion. Maybe some people have a different opinion, but the majority of people where I live, say the same thing.

No electricity, no power, no security - where is the freedom the Americans talk about? What freedom?

Where is the democracy?

We look for safety, for security, the same things.

My children, when they leave to study, they study under an oil lamp because there's no electricity.

We would like to live the same way as other people in the world, nothing more.

Abdul is a Sunni Muslim engineer who lives in the north of Baghdad.

Believe me, life in Baghdad is very hard.

I live in the north of the city, where there is no electricity or water.

Nouri Maliki
Abdul is highly critical of prime minister Nouri al-Maliki
There are also no services - it's not just me who says that, but most people in Baghdad say the same.

Sometimes our Prime Minister Nouri Maliki comes across like a citizen of Iran. He puts Iran to the front, rather than Iraq.

The American plan is good. But inside the American plans, Iraqi commanders are like dogs.

They are wicked dogs. These commanders destroyed every good thing. Therefore, we want to get rid of Al-Maliki.

I want the Americans to rule Iraq. They are better than Al-Maliki and his commanders and his followers, believe me.

Kurkies Ishou is a member of a Christian party called Bait Al-Tahrain who lives in New Baghdad.

I have been living in New Baghdad for almost 26 years.

It's a mixed area - there are Christians, Muslims and other sects.

An Iraqi woman with her children walks past a Chaldean Christian church in eastern Baghdad
Churches in Baghdad have recently been targeted by kidnappers
This isn't anything new - for many years we lived in peace together until things changed all over Iraq.

Now, because we are Christians, we suffer a lot.

In fact, the number of Christians in Iraq is decreasing because of death threats and kidnappings. Many have been killed.

It means we have no freedom to move around.

It's especially difficult for women - they are prisoners in their own homes. This forced me to send my wife and four daughters to Syria.

Situations vary from neighbourhood to neighbourhood. In some areas we can't practise our religion in a normal way, while in other places we can go to Church but there is no safety guarantee.

This is because the surge hasn't been active all over Baghdad. In some areas there is presence but in others, where it's really dangerous, there is nothing.

There were a lot of bombs around New Baghdad and a lot of people have been killed. Officials decided to enclave New Baghdad market with concrete walls to stop the flow of car bombs.

It's a good short-term solution but it can't last forever. The walls feel like a cage or prison.

Baghdad is very dear to us. I have spent all my life here and I have absolutely no thought to ever leave.

Ahmed Tadhom al-Shiva is a lecturer at Baghdad University who specialises in satellite technology.

American soldier checks a car
Ahmed says security checks have improved things for Iraqis
When I leave my house for university every morning - around 5 or 6am - my life is in God's hands.

Lectures begin at 8.30 and generally we finish our work by 12 or 1pm.

It's better to finish early, as getting home is always more difficult than coming in, due to security problems that occur during the day.

Often we find roads we want to use are closed. The police and army are deployed everywhere - sometimes forcing you to take other routes, which you then find are also closed.

Instead of taking an hour and ten minutes to get home, it takes two and a half hours. Occasionally, even six hours.

But I feel comfortable with the security forces in the streets.

Since the surge started in February, traffic in Baghdad has become really bad because the security forces are so committed - they search each car and every person.

Before that, traffic was heavy but the security wasn't good.

A lot of my colleagues at Baghdad University have received death threats or have been advised to move away for their own security. Many have gone to other provinces with their families. I haven't received a death threat but I don't want to leave.

If Baghdad is deserted by its professors, there will be no future for Iraq. We need to remain steadfast and optimistic to the end.

27-year-old Rasoul Jabar Iramish is a bus driver, travelling to many of the worst-affected parts of the city

Iraqis queue for petrol at pump
The queues for petrol in Baghdad can last two days
I have been working as a bus driver for eight years.

I started as a taxi driver, then bought my minibus and began to work on the Shula to Bab Alsharji route, or to Kadhimiyia, and sometimes to Alawi.

The main problems I encounter with my work are risks on the road and the high price of fuel.

It is an okay form of employment. You can earn enough money to get by on a day-to-day basis, but you can't save any money. If the bus breaks down, you get nothing.

I leave my house at 6am and get back home at 1pm. I take a break and then get out again at 2.30pm, and return at 8pm.

I know that if the number of passengers is low, it is related to the security situation.

As bus drivers we cannot just sit at home, because this is the only source of income for us.

If there are explosions, like in Allawi and Bab Alsharji, there are fewer passengers. But if the situation is good for, say, four days, people begin to go downtown again.

This is what is happening all the time and this is how we live.

I go to work even if there are explosions - I just wait until the road reopens.

If there is shooting, we park somewhere until it stops and then continue on our way. It is always like that.

One time, I had passengers with me and a gang attacked us. They tried to kidnap us but I was able to escape.

The traffic is very bad in Baghdad. The odd and even system is not being applied in the right way [cars are allowed on the roads only on alternate days, depending on whether their license plates end in odd or even numbers, to cut down on traffic]. Traffic police can do nothing about that because of the unstable situation.

It is complete chaos, especially in the centre of the city.

The fuel crisis is very bad too.

I always buy fuel from the black market - I cannot stand in a queue for gas, this might take two days.

Sometimes 20 litres of gas can cost 20,000 Iraqi dinar (approximately $16), or as much as 25,000 ID.

But from the petrol station, one litre costs 600 ID (50 cents).

For the fees, if it is from Shula to Bab Alsharji, I charge 1,000 ID (80 cents). The same for Al-Awai. I take 250 ID if I go to Kadhimiyia.

If the passenger takes a taxi, he will be charged 15,000 ID (US$1.20), so it is better to take a bus.

Six months ago the fee was 500 ID because fuel was cheap. We used to buy gas from the black market with 12-13,000 ID, whereas from the petrol station it was 10,000 ID.

There is no security, but we have families and we have to go out and earn a living.

Hussein Kadhom Al-Shimiri is an Iraqi police officer in Baghdad.

Iraqi police
Hussein says the Iraqi police now run on sectarian lines
I have been working as a policeman for 20 years.

During the previous regime there was order between the policeman and his officers. But now the police has been violated by the militias. Political parties are also involved.

The surge began in the wrong way. The media announced beforehand that security forces would raid certain areas and arrest criminals. This was like sending messages to the leaders of death squads to be careful.

It was like an advertisement, saying that the surge was going to be tough. That's why most of them left Iraq.

Most of them headed to Iran. Others went to the southern provinces where security is not good. And others went to Syria.

The US forces were not deployed completely in the streets like the Iraqi forces. They were used to back up Iraqi forces if they came under fire or got caught in neighbourhoods where there are dens of terrorists.

In general, without the US forces support, the Iraqi forces would be smashed completely.

The US forces in the street are useful, because the majority of the Iraqi forces are made up of sectarian parties. So most of the time, sectarian impulses dominate the raids, and determine who gets arrested.

I prefer the deployment of US forces in Iraqi streets because they implement the law.

For example, if a motorcade for an Iraqi official wants to go to a specific neighbourhood, the Iraqi forces let them in immediately. But the American forces would still check the cars before allowing them in.






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