While people around the world agree that the U.S. involvement in Iraq has created its current problems, Iraqi citizens are quietly admitting that a U.S. presence is needed for years to come.
From poll numbers to anti-war rhetoric, the majority is in agreement that the U.S. needs to get out of Iraq. Their current living conditions have worsened since the U.S. invasion over 4 years ago, and civil war is rife among previously peaceful citizens.
The average Iraqi citizen will quickly tell anyone who's asking that the Americans need to leave now. But with a careful glance around and a lowering of their voice, several Iraqis offered another story, saying that it was important for the U.S. to help the country get back on its feet again.
The NY Times shared several of these kinds of comments here:
Ahmad Umar al-Esawi, a Sunni worker in the city of Baquba:
The withdrawal of the occupation forces is a must because they have caused the destruction of Iraq, they committed massacres against the innocents, they have double-crossed the Iraqis with dreams,” said Ahmad Umar al-Esawi, a Sunni worker. “I want them to withdraw all their troops in one day.”
But, he added, dropping his voice: “There is something that I want to say although I hate to say it. The Americans forces, which are an ugly occupation force, have become something important to us, the Sunnis. We are a minority and we do not having a force to face the militias. If the Americans leave, it will mean a total elimination of the Sunnis in Iraq.
Just three months ago, Iraqi citizens couldn't say how long they thought the U.S. should remain in Iraq. Today, some are prepared to give a time-line of 3-5 years, probably closer to 5 years.
Sara al-Zubaidi, 30, whose father is Sunni and whose mother is Shiite, provided this time line:
“They will need five years,” she said. “The first year they need to prepare themselves properly to work with the Iraqi people, then they need a year or two years to start from the ground building the security services and then — ” she lowered her voice and looked around as if she was afraid someone might be listening, then continued — “they need to prepare a government for Iraq that is built not on a sectarian foundation, it must be a secular government. Religion has nothing to do with government, religion is in my heart.”
Those who were interviewed blamed the U.S. for the deteriorating conditions in Iraq, and therefore held the U.S. responsible for helping to get the country back in working condition. They feel the same way about the Iraqi government, since the U.S. helped set it up, they bear the responsibility for making it work for Iraq.
The NY Times disclosed: Contributing reporting were Khalid Ansary, Sahar Nageeb, Ahmad Fadam and Kareem Hilmi in Baghdad and New York Times employees in Diyala, Mosul, and Anbar.