We discussed the situation in Iraq in our global phone-in programme, Talking Point. Our guests were Muwaffaq al-Rubaie of Iraq's interim governing council, and former British ambassador to Iraq, Sir Terence Clark.
Three Japanese hostages have been freed in Iraq.
Many other foreigners have been reported missing, prompting at least one company to withdraw from the country.
Earlier, an Italian man was murdered by hostage-takers.
Can there be an end to the violence in Iraq? Should more troops be sent? Will the coalition be ready to hand over power by 30 June?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
The following comments reflect the balance of the opinions we have received:
The only feasible way left for the "normalization" and reconstruction of Iraq is to "re-build" the UN and hand over to the UN the responsibility of overseeing the transition. The UN should act in partnership with the OIC and the Arab League. The US and their so-called coalition forces with all their might and dollars cannot accomplish the task in hand. The present foreign troops including the US may stay in Iraq... but under the blue flag and UN Mandate. No ifs and no buts.
Eliseo Mercado, Rome, Italy
The US has now almost completely blown it - from military victory to political disaster in one year. There can be no peace while Bush is in the White House. After his speech yesterday we can see there is now only a military solution.
Andrew Seal, London, England
Invading Iraq without proper respect for its people, or the rest of the world for that matter, is a rather large statement to make. Little wonder there is no trust, respect and ultimately compliance with the wishes of the coalition. Yes there probably will be peace. The time to that day will now more likely be measured in years, not months. The saddest part of that is that many innocent people will lose there life during this period as a result of western policy.
Alan McFadyen, Brisbane, Australia
It would not be optimistic to say the US-led coalition forces can regain control soon and restore order - it would be irrational. Where do they think, all the republican guards and other elite units of former Iraq, never encountered during the official time of war (according to Bush Jr)? They are still there. This is a country where almost everybody owns an assault rifle, RPG, or something like that. And a lot of guys are waiting for their moment to come in the ongoing struggle for power between several groups. The US can't stop the violence - one of the main reason for that violence is their presence and - almost unnecessary to say - their invasion of Iraq.
H Blitzner, Vienna, Austria
Worse than Vietnam. Worse, because there is no way out with out creating a worse situation in the US vacuum. Iraq would become the Spring Break of terrorism. No country in the world would be safe. Vietnam was a border war of skirmishes. Here we are surrounded by people who are friends one day and setting roadside bombs the next day.
Wayne Kusy, Chicago, USA
Like the violence that we have seen in other countries recovering from oppressive regimes there will be trouble as we return freedom and democracy to the people of Iraq. Any of us would be troubled and many would fight against an occupying force. Japanese soldiers fought on for decades after WWII. Will the violence end, yes, once we return control to the Iraqi people.
Chris Alden, Great Falls, MT, USA
It would be unwise not to admit political and military mistakes that have engendered this total chaos in the Middle East and Iraq. But it's never late to draw lessons from the current bloody events in Iraq ,and make the whole international community under the flag of United Nations organisation contribute to find a lasting peace in the Middle East, and a brilliant future for Iraq .
Abdelhamid Bouziane, Theniet El Had, Algeria
It's very disturbing news when innocent contractors trying to help the Iraq people to get a better life, are being caught in the crossfire like this. Shame on Bush, shame on Blair, the are personally responsible for this!
Paul, Bergen, Norway
This discussion is a farce in itself. The article asks "Can there be peace?" while displaying a photo of US troops. Isn't it common sense that where soldiers go, war follows? Peace is not enforced by soldiers; it is only agreed by free men. Did the US and UK (both 'united' in themselves, but out to divide the world) need to invade Iraq in order to depose Saddam? Are the Iraqi people so yielding and compromising that they couldn't depose Saddam if they wanted to? The US and UK seem to support this. However, the Iraqi people have proven to them throughout the past year by fighting with sticks and stones against space-age weapons, that this is not the case.
Andreas Panagopoulos, London
The situation is just spiralling out of control. Though, I was totally against the war, I am right now standing by the side of the US and hopefully they will take up all the responsibility for putting the things right, instead of leaving the whole mess to the UN, Iraqi people or international community. After all, this is the pledge you have made to the whole world. To counter terrorism and, more importantly, to liberate Iraqi people and bring about peace and harmony to the Middle East.
Wing, Hong Kong
As an Iranian, I naturally have no remorse for Saddam, but I must say he managed the country much better than the US. The hornets nest has been touched, it is only whirlwind, chaos, and violence from here on, because the Iraqis have seen that the so called US elite forces (SEALs, marines) are vulnerable. I wish there had been no invasion. So much unnecessary killing in the name of "Democracy"?
Mohammad, Tehran, Iran
To pull out coalition forces now means disaster for Iraq. What should be done now is to learn from what was done in Malaysia during the insurgency and confrontation years, i.e. adopt the Hearts and Minds policy so successfully applied in Malaysia. Or is the West too arrogant to learn from the East.
J. Lee, Kuching, Malaysia
Well, they should see it coming. There would be no peace as long as the coalition invading forces are in Iraq. Get out of there, let the Iraqis decide their own future and to know how to live together among themselves.
Mohd Khalid, Lumut, Perak, Malaysia
There will be no peace at all in Iraq as long as the US and its coalition forces are occupying such an inflicted country. Withdrawing all the foreign forces and forming a legal government is the most important step for the peace over there.
Nabil Abdel Ahad Abdel Baky, Cairo, Egypt
Yes, I believe there's going to be peace in Iraq very soon because the US-led troops are there for that. Despite the killing and destruction it must happen. I know peace will last and is just around the corner as long as what has to be done has been done.
Jonathan Akpan, Banjul, The Gambia
Those who ordered the Iraq debacle and now pray for the safety of our troops is the epitome of arrogance and hypocrisy. Deliver us from our own evil within!
Carl Tannert, Galesburg, USA
Why didn't these Iraqis rise up against Saddam? I think the Iraqis are their own worst enemy and are fighting for nothing.
James, Seattle, WA, USA
Having served my country for 12 years in the RAF, I'm sick to death of hearing how our troops are being attacked by these Iraqis, who not too long ago were being killed and tortured by their own people. These people need to make up their minds as to whom or what they want. I personally think we should pull our troops out and leave them to their own, that way we wouldn't lose anymore troops over something that should have been finished in 1991.
Alas, mislead individuals may brag about the toppling of Saddam regime and ridding the Iraqis from his tyranny as a prize from the US invasion of Iraq, but again, not much has changed under this illegal and unprovoked occupation by the allied forces. Many Iraqis been killed, families losing their loved ones, homes been destroyed, infrastructures been ruined, living conditions been worsened and dreams been shattered, all under the deceptive promise of bringing freedom and good lives to the Iraqi people! Where is Plan B Mr Bush?
Jay G, Urbandale, USA
Depends on what your definition of peace is. Iraq before the invasion was 'peaceful'. So was Nazi Germany. What counts isn't the peace now. It's the peace later.
Chris Wilson, Lithia, USA
Well, we have to stop blaming the US administration on capturing Iraq. Maybe they did the right or wrong decision. However, the question is: how to grant Middle East the peace again? How to build a new Iraq, and safer Palestine? These two countries are forming the chaos in the region. The US administration must take action against terror, Israel and the uprising in Iraq and Palestine.
I Abu Jebara, Saudi Arabia
Politics is as uncertain as the weather. The mistake of the coalition was to predict sunshine after the storm. World events are far too temperamental to allow such predictions of certainty about the far off future. Peace may still happen, but there are too many uncontrollable random factors involved to be sure of it. In the next few decades Iraq will be a ship caught up in a storm which no government can control or direct.
Bob, Colchester, England
Iraq is as Uganda was in 1979.Ugandans were happy with the ousting of Idi Amin by Tanzanian forces. But they hated Tanzanian occupation and their imposing of puppet leaders. From demonstrations, they resorted to civil war which was spearheaded by Yoweri Museveni and restored sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Iraqis will do the same. The solution is the immediate pull out of US forces and their allies to be replaced by those of UN and Arab League.
Ahmed Kateregga Musaazi, Kampala, Uganda
Yes, there can be peace, but with complete change of American policy toward Iraq. As an Iraqi who has been living in the West for very long time and have visited Iraq a few times, the last time just a few weeks ago, I am appalled by the shear arrogance and disregard of Iraqis lives, basic rights, and culture. Iraqis welcomed the liberators with open arms, but were betrayed the day America allowed by intention or negligence the looters to ransack and burn Baghdad, and then lost whatever trust was left by declaring themselves occupiers. America should immediately declare a new transparent policy with a timetable for a general election supervised by the UN, then a genuine sovereign government. In the meantime they must seriously establish a new police and army force controlled by Iraqis. Once America has the trust of Iraqis, it will not be very hard for the new Iraqi government to allow America some military presence like many other countries in the world as long as America behaves like a guest and not a master.
Aziz Albazzaz, Melbourne, Australia
As I see it, the violence cannot be stopped as long as there is an American occupation in Iraq and an Israeli occupation of Palestine. These two are very much linked in the eyes of the Arabs and Muslims.
Hamed Al-Harthy, Oman
The word peace has lost its meaning along with many other words in the English dictionary! No chance.
Andy Harvey, Brisbane, Australia
As a US Soldier seeing my comrades die, it really hurts me deep down inside. I had the unfortunate opportunity to go to Iraq for the invasion; I also had the opportunity to speak with the Iraqi citizens. One wise man predicted that the people of Iraq did not wish to be occupied, and that they would rebel against the US. I personally feel that it was wrong to invade Iraq and dispose of a head of state. The UN needs to head this mission, but of course no one wants to come in and clean up our mess.
Kevin, New York USA
I am surprised at how many experts there are out there who know exactly what should happen to Iraq. The rights and wrongs of the invasion need to be forgotten, it happened. The only question now is how best to get Iraq back on its feet. It is impossible for all the troops to up sticks and leave overnight as some people wish. There would be a civil war. I have spoken to Iraqi's and they do not wish the troops to leave immediately. Of course they want them to go home eventually but they are clever enough to realise that they cannot cope on their own just now. Do not think that the wishes of the Iraqis are being ignored by the Coalition. They are listened to everyday and they are involved in rebuilding their country.
British Soldier, Baghdad, Iraq
Iraq should have elections for a new council before July. As messy as it would be, without a census, it would show good faith on the part of the coalition.
Herbert, Gloversville, NY
There will be no peace until every soldier leaves our land. The Americans have to change the way they deal with the Iraqis otherwise it will get worse...
Shimaa A Taher, Baghdad, Iraq
My Dad has just this week been sent to Iraq serving in the British Army. As much as my Mum and I are worried about him being out there, I know that if the troops pulled out then all the work that has been done so far and lives that have been lost would have been for nothing. When June 30th comes then time will tell if peace can really happen!
Annis, Wales, UK
The Bush administration has divided the democratic world and unified the terrorists. As a result we see war and terrorist attacks all over the world. This world is definitely a less safe place than it used to be some years ago. And a lot of people have much less freedom and civil rights.
Thomas Augenstein, Bern, Switzerland
The loss of civilian life in Falluja is regrettable, but in urban warfare perhaps unavoidable. A political solution might be possible but I fear that with the US offering a ceasefire, the wrong message may be transmitted. That is, the US is unwilling to fight the insurgents and that it might not be able to win Falluja.
Francis Zammit, Fgura, Malta
Americans have many admirable qualities but they do not do subtlety or sensitivity. The current situation in Iraq requires both, in spades. Every innocent civilian killed by the heavy-handed response to a few fanatics makes a political solution much less likely. The Americans must be replaced by a UN force drawn largely from former friends of Iraq like Russia and France. This is the only way to stop the escalating violence against a perceived invader.
Yes, there can be peace - but it won't be easy. US troops should, preferably with a UN coalition, stay in Iraq. The only way to peace is a several year long stabilisation of the country. Elections now (or at the end of June) are no solution - first deal with infrastructure, electricity, water and no more military forces. This is a process of years - and Bush should have been aware of that when he started this war.
Robert, Utrecht, The Netherlands
Handing over power is a joke. Real power will always stay with the Americans. How gullible do they think the world is?
Farozan, Toronto, Canada
The UK and US governments are in a difficult situation. If they withdraw all of their troops as some factions are asking for, and then there is trouble and people die, they will be blamed. If they keep their troops in Iraq and the same happens they will be blamed.
This so called uprising is nothing more than certain groups trying to cement power for themselves, using the Coalition forces as scapegoats.
Michael Hamilton, Normanton, England
The people of Iraq are no doubt pleased to be rid of Saddam but what are they to have instead? Democracy is a western European philosophy with no cultural basis in the Middle East and the only way ahead is for the Iraqi people to decide independently the way they should be governed. If any outside institution needs to be involved it should be the Arab League. A coalition inspired 'democratic' government will only face insurrection at a later date.
Whatever happens there will be no peace in Iraq without further bloodshed.
Jon, London, UK
This is an illegal war and occupation that has unleashed a whirlwind. The current violence will end when the US and "coalition" forces withdraw. Let the Iraqis handle their own affairs. It is folly to believe that democracy can be imposed by an occupying force whose contradictions and motives are transparent. No more troops. End the occupation now.
Robert, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
I'm afraid there may be an old story as Vietnam for the US, Afghanistan for the former Soviet Union.
Andrei Sedin, Moscow, Russia
The coalition must be in this until Iraq is settled. The commitment was made when the first shot was fired. We owe it to the majority of the Iraqis. The west cannot let them down again.
I am confused with the definition of "freedom and democracy" for the US people writing here. They claim that the Iraqi resistance are fanatics, radicals, fundamentalism or terrorist. To me it looks more people fighting for the independence of their country and their right to choose their own future.
Raul, Zaragoza, Spain
I think that situation in Iraq is very difficult and the UN should play a very important role in this.
Dynka Amorim, São Tomé e Principe
It seems now that peace in Iraq depends only on the election results in the US. What a pity! I'm ashamed my country takes part in this outrageous invasion.
Lyubo, Sofia, Bulgaria
The moment the US led forces pull out of Iraq there will be a civil war between the Sunni & Shia Muslims.
While the forces remain there will always be uprisings and killing.
As Saddam showed the world, sadly the only way an uneasy peace prevails is by brute force.
Alan Curtis, Kent UK
The situation looks like political and humanitarian disaster. This is political Titanic.
Pavel, Russian province
I don't think there can be peace if US or UK send more troop to get more confrontation with Iraqis instead of trying to understand what they really need.
W Naing, Yangon , Myanmar
Had the US administration foreseen this scenario and failed to warn the public or are the current situation in Iraq a total surprise to them?
Nick P, Athens Greece
You know, in Canada we have lots of oil. What we don't have are American soldiers. Explanation: The Americans have never been scared to $PAY$ for oil. The same applies to Iraq. The oil issue then is just a simplification of a greater problem. If you wish to live in a world that supports mass graves(Iraq), and state sponsored terrorism (Afghanistan), then so be it. I know for a fact, because history tells us so, that eventually you will have to face these horrors and defeat them.
Allen B, CANADA
My thought is with all the innocent Iraqis. This is not their choice, they are the political prisoners in their own home. For more than a decade of US sanctions which have had killed thousands and thousands of innocent lives during the cruel period under Saddam Hussein regime. Now, in the name of liberation and removal of weapon of mass destruction, what have the U.S. done for these people except the U.S.'s own interests.
Nha Nguyen, Canada
I am amazed that people can see the actions of these militants- which include hostage taking, using civilians as human shields, using religious buildings for military purposes, and mutilation of bodies- as anything other than totally reprehensible. You may not like the policies of the US, but I fail to see how Sadr's militia could be a part of a free and democratic Iraq.
Matt, New York, USA
To demand the withdrawal of US troops is to demand massive unrest and slaughter of civilians in Iraq. The "uprisings" are nothing more than attempts to grab power by various militant elements that are probably sponsored by Iran. In my opinion more international troops should be sent to the region, if true freedom and stability is to ever be achieved by the Iraqi people.
Ilja Jakovich, Helsinki, Finland
With Jack Straw saying that he is surprised by the violence in Iraq, it merely shows the complete lack of understanding of the situation there by this government.
H MacTaggart, Stourbridge, UK
People resent strangers meddling in their problems; they prefer the help of their kinsmen and neighbours. But where are Iraq's neighbours? Sadly, they have all just buried their heads in the desert sand.
John, Manama, Bahrain
If the Americans believed in true democracy, they should have immediately paved way to hold a general election in Iraq. They didn't because they knew that the Iraqis will never elect the government that the US wants. The reality is emerging through the recent Shiite uprisings. The Americans should leave Iraq for good after they handover on 30 June.
F Mulaffer, Kandy, Sri Lanka
The world at large should not be deceived by the Americans saying they'll bring peace to Iraqi - this war is not yet over! Arab people are a proud people and shall not allow themselves to be dictated by the Americans. Americans say they went into Iraqi to remove a brutal dictatorship. What is it that they have installed in Iraqi, isn't it yet another dictatorship, only that this time it is an American lead one. For now peace is not in sight.
Collins Mwale, Kitwe, Zambia
We are now facing the consequences of the arrogant rhetoric of the pre-war debates. Should EU be included in the recovery and reconstruction effort, the outcome would be rather different. And it is not only Rumsfeld's fault.
Vihar Georgiev, Sofia, Bulgaria
Can the Americans leave Iraq and leave their petroleum to them?
Veralice, Fortaleza, Brazil
Harsh and forceful action should be taken by the Coalition forces against all Islamic militants who offer violence of any kind. Any form of incitement to violence should be swiftly and severely punished. At the same time, aid, reconstruction and trade should be pushed ahead fast, together with political and judicial independence.
Ron Tristram, Tokoroa, New Zealand
With 10,000 Iraqis in prison and so many civilians killed, wouldn't some Iraqis compare American troops to Saddam?
Cecil Osei, Tamale, Ghana
There won't be peace in Iraq because Bush is too far away to understand what Iraqis want. And I wonder when will these deaths in Iraq stop.
Yes, there can be an immediate end to the escalating violence and death in Iraq. All that's needed are the seven magic words that President Bush has never said, but still has time to say: "I'm sorry, we're leaving, it's your oil".
Teresa, Cambridge USA
This is not an uprising, but an attempted coup by an Iranian-backed radical cleric and other elements that hope to grab power in Iraq.
William Waford, Cologne, Germany
It is evident that from recent history in Iraq and from the today's dithering over Falluja, that Bush and Rumsfeld should be deposed now and continuity of government in the USA left in the hands of Colin Powel, who knows what it is to wear a uniform and when and where to use it.
Colin Ellis, Haro, Spain
It appears that the British troops and command attitude and dealing with the situation is quite reasonable. However the US media as well as forces are acting like cowboys with no logic and they do not understand the ground realities and facts. I and my colleagues feel that the US attitude will create problems for not only themselves but for the whole world
Khalid Khan, Lahore, Pakistan
Yes, but the US will have to act towards that in action, and not in words. Killing civilians, bombing mosques and disengagement in the true rebuilding of Iraq casts serious doubt on the US's liberating Iraq rhetoric. US acts of vengeance won't earn the Iraqi's trust. US should provide a timetable for withdrawal of the occupation forces. Handing over power to a puppet authority is just an eyewash. Iraqis are not fools that don't understand this.
Tawfique, Dhaka, Bangladesh
No occupying power can create peace. US, UK have to handover Iraq to UN. UN must handle it without any veto from the so-called superpowers. I think this is the only way to create a new Iraq.
As far as my information is concerned regarding Iraq, the Americans are not sincerely paying constant attention to the issue in depth. They must say what they really expect from the coalition forces and why they began the attacks. If they take this issue into account and consider, surely it will help to find the cause.
Farid Ahmad, Afghanistan
Iraq's interim Governing Council should do more for their nation, and only then will the coalition be ready to hand over power by June 30.
Bijay, Bangkok, Thailand
Remember, US and its allies are outsiders in Iraq. How can they decide what is best. Leave Iraq to decide its own future. Andrew, Penang, Malaysia
The price of freedom and democracy has to be the last man standing. We have to finish what we have started because we can and it is the right thing to do!
Mike Cloutier, Andover, Connecticut
To Mike Cloutier: You mean you want to try to kill every Iraqi who is opposing the occupation? But surely this is done for their benefit. So kill every benefactor and declare democracy and freedom in the "Land of the Dead". Did not work in Vietnam and will not work here.
Peace? Which peace? The Iraq campaign was doomed from the time the idea was conceived: western powers have been ignorant of lessons from past invasion and so-called civilisation or pacification. Iraqis never asked anyone to come liberate them. Now the coalition forces are facing the truth about their invasion. Sadly, not only Iraqis are suffering: people around the globe are being traumatised by the sight of the fighting and killings by the same people claiming to bring freedom and democracy.
S Bellow, Paris France
Yes, there can be. It will take time though. The radicalism of Islam is thwarting the peaceful handover. Comparing Japan after the World War II and Iraq, we can see the difference in the two nations - Japan used all the help they could get from the US and became the second largest economy in the world. Iraq on the other hand is muddled by religious fanatics and thwarting their own progress but hopefully there are enough intelligent people who will work toward building their country based on economics, freedom and respect for human rights.
Mac, Honolulu, Hawaii
There will be no peace in Iraq for decades to come. America is reaping what it sowed. That's what happens to someone who reckons only he matters.
Charles Chengo, Lusaka, Zambia
I am astonished how so many people here hold the view that occupation of Iraq is for the good of the Iraqi people. As a member of the Western world, I fully support the idea that people have the right to choose their own leaders, be it good or bad for them. The people even have the right to make mistakes. Foreign occupation against the will of the people is always something illegitimate, no matter how good intentions the occupier has. It simply is a crime against the occupied people.
It would be good to accept the fact, that the West created the necessary conditions for democracy by a long historical process. It was never imposed from above, but the process originated from the people. Iraq as an Islamic country slowly recovering from a brutal dictatorship probably isn't ready for a democracy, Western style, yet. We can't take democracy there by force, but it will slowly evolve if the people are left to govern themselves and utilise the vast economic resources of the country.
Tuomas Värjö, Helsinki, Finland
It takes at least one year, to design and build a house for a single family. How could anyone believe that creating a peaceful Iraq can take the same time? Let Iraq sort out its own internal problems, and perhaps it can eventually drag itself out of the dark ages, as other nations have done over the years.
Amir Sanei, London
The US will have to meet the deadline. Extension of the deadline shall lead to further resistance and shall play into the hands of the Iraqis who are fighting against the occupation and shall further confirm rumours that all the US wants is time to suck out more Iraqi oil, which of course in a way is true.
Saqlain, Karachi, Pakistan
I cannot understand why the coalition forces do not simply state there will be a countrywide amnesty for weapons in Iraq and all weapons found after this date will result in the arrest of the carrier. Is it because the right to carry arms is so dear to the land of the free (USA)?
Glenn Briggs, Withernsea, England
I believe that Senator Lugar is on the right track. It will take much more than conventional military actions can accomplish, in order to pacify Iraq. Savagery and widespread ignorance, superstition and irrational extremism, are not ever conquered solely by means of bullets. While conventional military strategies are indispensable, the deployment of other resources needs to be considered if a completely successful outcome is to be achieved. Democracy cannot thrive in a climate of irrational extremism and ignorance. Handing over the reigns of power, prematurely, could be disastrous to the future of the Middle East. Every terrorist and extremist in the Middle East wants to see the allies in Iraq, fail, and particularly to see the USA fail in its mission. Failure is not an option.
John Holmes, Canada
No there can never be peace as long as there is a foreign occupation of Iraq. We should have not invaded in the first place - it has nothing to do with us. The UK should pull out immediately to prevent further bloodshed to our troops and reduce risk of sympathetic terror attacks in Britain.
Andy Clarke, Leigh on Sea, UK