Page last updated at 06:27 GMT, Friday, 24 April 2009 07:27 UK

Iraqi bloggers: Security worries

Iraqi bloggers writing in English discuss security issues in Baghdad - as US troops prepare for the planned withdrawal from the country at the end of 2011.

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Iraqi blogger Salam Pax is back in Baghdad. This posting was prompted by an Associated Press article describing how Sunnis still fear returning to Baghdad, which according to the article means "there's really only one side left". Salam says the article initially annoyed him, but eventually he "saw truth in it".

Blog image for Salam Pax

26 March:

My aunts and uncles, four Shia families, and us we haven't dared go back to our homes in the west of Baghdad, now declared Sunni.

The first time we went to visit since 2005 was last month and it was depressing. So few of the old neighbours are still there and it feels so much less vibrant than the inner Baghdad neighbourhoods.

Two years after the first walls went up the sectarian division of Baghdad is fact.

If I count the districts which are seeing a return to this odd thing we are calling normality... they're mostly Shia

People sold their houses in areas they can't live in anymore and tried to buy houses in areas safer for them. The important word here is tried.

This shuffling of demographic cards totally distorted the prices of property. Many were forced to sell cheap, especially if they were living in Sunni areas. Those who don't want to sell are left with nothing.

So, yes it's a mess. Maybe the article annoys me because it is true. This whole thing is too fragile.

The article mentions again and again that it's Sunnis who ended up with the icky end of the stick. While Shia neighbourhoods prosper Sunni districts look like ghost towns the article says. True again.. Maybe I hate it for being this blunt.

If I count the districts which are really seeing a return to this odd thing we are calling normality... they're mostly Shia ...

The militias might have disappeared but one of the main reasons why these Shia neighbourhoods are safer than other districts is because Shia political parties were allowed to have their own organised security and militia forces...

The Sunnis on the other hand were left to fend for themselves.

And between the Mahdi militias with their ominous slogan 'Our regular programme will resume after this break' and the other Shia security forces, the Awakening groups were too little and too late. The harm was done.

"Inside Iraq" is a blog updated by Iraqi journalists in and around Baghdad, working for the US group, McClatchy newspapers. This post was prompted by a car bombing in northeast Baghdad.

Image from blog 'Inside Iraq'

March 27:

"I just can not understand why the insurgents target the civilians. They are not security forces like us. They don't cause any harm to anyone. They just want to live."

With these words and with a strong will to control the tears, the policeman who escorted me to the scene of yesterday's explosion started the conversation. I couldn't give him any answer because the same question troubles my mind. The blast killed at least 16 people and wounded some 45. The death toll likely rose today.

I walked slowly down the street which was, until the explosion a lively street filled with men, women and children. I saw some of them but they were still under the effect of the explosion. Their faces tell the story of ongoing pain and suffering of Iraqis.

I took many photos of the place. I chose seven of them to tell the story of the ongoing pain.

"Last of Iraqis" lives on the edge of Adamiya, a Sunni neighbourhood in Baghdad. While he welcomes the increase in security and democracy, he is still wary of Shia power inside and outside Iraq.

Blog image for Last of Iraqis

22 March:

For sure things are improving, and one can sense a political maturation and some kind of quietness but is it peaceful yet? Is there peace in Baghdad?

No, no-one can say that Baghdad is peaceful, but I can say it's safer…Maliki and many other politicians are making new alliances based on ideology and political interests rather than sects and religion and this is a really, really great thing. You know that I always used to dislike Maliki but now I'm having second thoughts about him…

But let's not be too optimistic and naive to forget that these achievements are fragile and like my [daughter] Looli, a new born…let's not forget that a bombing started the sectarian violence (al-Askari shrine bombings).

I'm not saying that another bombing like that will lead to a civil war, but we also shouldn't forget that the US troops will be leaving Iraq (except for the logistics) by the end of this year and at the same time we have President Obama making what I see a mistake by trying to be friends with Iran!

The prospect of ex-Baathists gaining power once more is a worry for businessman Baghdad Connect .

11 March

Blog image for Baghdad Connect
One well-respected businessman was killed in al-Mansour district two weeks ago in a car bomb that meant to kill the head of the interior ministry - south region.

A car bomb in al-Karrada claimed the life of a loved teacher and children are again being kidnapped in al-Dawadi area.

The madness returns in the aftermath of the elections and the announcement of Obama's 'reasonable' withdraw from Iraq.

The latest news of Ezzat al-Douri's (Saddam's vice president) open letter to the ex-Baathists army officers to heed Maliki's call to return to their previous jobs is living proof that a plan is under way to strengthen the Baathists. This plan will rely solely on the outcome of Obama's direct talk with the Mullahs of Iran.

Ezzat's letter also calls for the university professors and the obsolete Baathists students union to "report back to duty!" in the new Iraq and to take part in the ever crystallizing scheme of 'prevalence'.

The green zone soon will no longer exist as such and the American embassy will be the sole symbol of the invasion power in the capital. Everything is moving at a "double cheese whopper" speed of pickles...

The Baathists are coming back," one professor said. "We need to build it up from the core; this is our way of doing business!"

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