Iraqis Blame Government as Sectarian Violence Continues to Climb Up
23 December 2006
The security situation in Baghdad continues to deteriorate as sectarian violence grows. Yet ordinary Iraqis, be they Sunni or Shi'ite, say they are fed up with their government for not acting against militias and terrorist groups. They talked about the dangers they face in their daily lives with VOA's Margaret Besheer in the Iraqi capital.
Every day Iraqis are found bound, blindfolded and shot in the streets of the capital, while others are victims of bomb attacks. The acts are attributed to Shi'ite militias and Sunni insurgent groups, waging a war against each other that is claiming on average one hundred lives a day.
Twenty-six year old Saif, a Sunni, knows this pain personally. Earlier this year, his older brother, Khalid was kidnapped. His family looked for him, but found no trace of him. One day a relative called to say many bodies had been found on the side of road west of Baghdad. They went there and Saif recounts what they found.
He says there were many bodies and they checked 15 of them before they found Khalid. His hands were tied behind his back and he was shot twice through the heart and three times through the head. Saif says some of bodies had labels on them that said 'Sunni' or 'Shiite' or tags that said 'this man is a traitor who works for the Americans.'
Other Iraqis complain of intimidation by militias and insurgent groups that are trying to ethnically cleanse Baghdad neighborhoods. Residents are threatened and told to move or they will be killed.
Ali, a Sunni who lived near the Shiite enclave of Sadr City, says his family received such a threat a few months ago. It came by telephone one evening during dinner. He and his wife fled their home immediately and spent the night in their car in a parking lot near a coalition checkpoint.
Then there are the near-daily car bombs, suicide bombs and roadside bombs that claim both civilians and security forces.
Abu Ali, a Shiite, says he had to stay home from work for three days because he was so shaken after a car bomb exploded near him and bullets flew past his head. He says his wife also witnessed a car bomb explode. As a result they are afraid to leave their house very often.
Abu Ali, like many other Iraqis, blames the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for doing nothing to stop the violence. They say he and other political and religious leaders have personal agendas and allow the killing. They also blame regional players, Iran and Syria, for supporting armed groups inside Iraq.
Galib, a Shiite who was a captain in the army of Saddam Hussein, repeats a suggestion of many Iraqis. He says they want a new government headed by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. Mr. Allawi, a secular Shiite, was prime minister from May 2004 until legislative elections were held last December.
Galib says Mr. Allawi does not favor either Sunnis or Shi'ites. He says Mr. Allawi proved it when the mainly Sunni city of Fallujah rebelled in 2004 and he authorized an offensive against them, or when the Mehdi militia of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr had its uprising in Najaf and he authorized force against them as well.
"I think the government must be changed and the military must work for Iraq and not their parties," said Ahmed, a Sunni from northwest Baghdad. "I think it is difficult to change the government. They must bring Allawi. The year he was president for Iraq it was the best year since the American military came to Iraq until now."
Iraqis say they are tired of the daily violence and they just want to live in peace and security so they can provide for their families as they used to. But overwhelmingly, they say they want to see the government crack down on the illegal armed groups who are terrorizing their daily lives.
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