Middle East

Operation New Dawn: Iraqi voices

Iraqi police officers stop a taxi cab for a security check at a checkpoint in central Baghdad
Image caption Iraq's police and army will formally inherit control from the US on Monday

Iraqis tell the BBC News website what they think of the US troop withdrawal underway and what it will mean for the country.

Nermeen Al Mufti, 49, Kirkuk, Journalist

Image caption Nermeen has always wanted the soldiers to go home

I don't think the Americans are taking this action for the sake of Iraq. They are doing it for President Obama, because he promised he would take the soldiers home.

And what are they handing over? There is still violence everywhere. The Americans have not rebuilt the country after years of war.

I was there at the beginning of the occupation, and I did not want the soldiers to come and I have always wanted them to go home. So I will be happy to no longer see the Americans on the streets.

These last few weeks have been very bloody in Iraq. Kirkuk was hit by one of the car bombs on 25 August.

Generally nobody can say they feel safe here. People get on with their lives, they go to work, they go to the market.

But still we know there could be an attack at any time. It is very sad to see so many people are dying in the streets during the holy month of Ramadan.

But of course I cannot compare this violence to that of Baghdad in the dark days. I left in 2006 when my neighbourhood had become hell.

It is strange that we have so many security forces but they don't seem to be able to protect themselves, let alone the people. Maybe some of them are too young and sign up as a way out of poverty. We need to instil in all of them real Iraqi values so they are focused on defending the nation.

I am also worried about the fact the politicians cannot form a government. Again they must start to think of Iraq above their own interests.

It is difficult to predict the future in Iraq but I still believe in the people. Many times we have risen from the ashes.

Dr Anees, 42, Baghdad

This is all propaganda because they have already been leaving for a while quietly without telling anyone that they're going.

People just want basic things in life like electricity, water, security and jobs.

The Americans have not provided any of those things, apart from security along psychological lines.

We felt safe because, since 2005, we could see helicopters and jet fighters and the planes - the drones that used to fly above - we could hear them and so we would know that they were combing the areas. And then all the hide-outs that were discovered in Baghdad had the same effect.

But for the last two months, we haven't had these signs - since June.

I live in an area that is generally safe.

In my area we haven't noticed anything different because for two years now we haven't seen the Americans in the streets in our neighbourhood.

Generally, my opinion was pro-American because I believed that they came to save us from the tyranny of Saddam.

In the days of 2003 we had hope. But now people don't care if they are here or not. We don't see them - they are in their bases.

I think they have washed their hands of our politicians because they are going so quickly.

But the politicians and the people are not ready for democracy. Because of our religious and social make-up, my country is very unique - each group defines democracy in a different way.

It's a very messy thing here.

Look at what happened when we had elections - it's been five months now and still they cannot agree.

I think the American withdrawal is premature but I can understand that they are because their domestic policy has changed and we have fallen down in the pecking order.

The Americans say they will concentrate more now on training and supporting the police and the army but it will take time.

Another worry is who controls the security forces?

The police is infiltrated by religious groups. They are very local compared to the army.

I think the army is neutral but the police is definitely not. But the problem with the army is that it is not very well armed or trained.

I work in a private hospital and we buy all our supplies.

The Ministry of Health is run very badly. They are supposed to supply the government hospitals - millions of dollars are going into this ministry but no-one is seeing where it goes.

Our healthcare system is in a devastating state and cannot even give basic care to people.

If someone came into our hospital wounded we would treat them for free but no-one has been wounded in the area surrounding our hospital for a very long time.

When the Americans are gone, I believe, it will be easier for the extremists. It is a moral boost for them becasue they will be victorious because they have kicked the Americans out.

But there is no victory, really.

Ali Nima, 25, student, Baghdad

The situation in Iraq has been really grim over the last month. This is partly because al-Qaeda wants to demonstrate they are still strong as the Americans leave.

But I think the main reason for the recent violence is that we still don't have government months after the election.

The Americans say the Iraqi security forces ready to take over from them and defend the country, and I think they are right. Of course they have made mistakes, but it is always possible to do so when there are so many wanting to attack.

I do not feel very safe in Baghdad. But I have been studying overseas for the last few years, so I am comparing the situation with Malaysia or Qatar. Others who have lived here all their lives say they feel safer than before.

There is still tension between Sunni and Shia people because of the blood that was spilled. But for some religious background is not an issue - in my group of friends we don't care about each others religion.

What we really need is leadership.

Without leadership we cannot develop as a country and overcome the problems we face. We only have a couple of hours of electricity in the day and a few at night. We need the government to get to sort out the basics - from traffic lights to the internet infrastructure.

The politicians need to get together and decide on a leader as soon as possible. I like both the potential candidates - Nuri al-Maliki led and Ayad Allawi, I just wish they could decide who was going to lead the country.