The outgoing British ambassador in Iraq has admitted he is uncertain about the future of the country.
William Patey believes the situation in Iraq can get better
William Patey also said the Iraqi people had lost confidence in their police force, with some officers actively engaged with death squads.
Mr Patey told the BBC he moved between optimism and pessimism for the country, but the situation was not hopeless.
Meanwhile, the top British military officer in Iraq, Lt Gen Rob Fry, said the violence was likely to get worse.
Mr Patey, who took up his appointment in June 2005, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "You move from optimism and pessimism, it's a thin dividing line. What I don't have is a sense of hopelessness or despair.
"I think we can, however bad it gets and it has got, I think we can make it better.
"And it's really down to the Iraqis so I'll reserve judgement on that until I see how much progress is made in the coming weeks and months on the national reconciliation process."
He added: "There is some evidence that some members of the police are actively engaged with death squads and with militias, and taking orders.
"And clearly they need to be identified, weeded out, prosecuted. Undoubtedly, the Iraqi people have lost confidence in the police."
He said it would take some time for the Iraqi people's confidence in the police to be restored.
Lt Gen Fry told the programme there was more violence to come in Iraq.
"Anything that finally brings people to the table means that they will have to have gone through a process where their capacity to exchange violence has been worn down by the effects that that has," he said.
"I don't think we're necessarily at the end of that process yet, so I think that I would have to recognise that there's likely to be some hard pounding in this process yet to come."