Middle East

US troops leave Iraq: your voices

After nearly nine years of war, the US military has formally marked the end of its combat operations in Iraq with a ceremony in Baghdad.

US troops watched the American flag come down - a symbolic moment.

President Barack Obama, who came to office pledging to bring troops home, said the US left behind a "sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq".

But those left behind in Iraq have told the BBC that the future of the country is still full of uncertainties.

Husni Shilani, Zakho

I'm an English teacher living in Zakho.

I am in the Kurdistan region in north Iraq on the border of Turkey.

Image caption The US Forces-Iraq colours were lowered before being put away in Baghdad

The past 10 years have led to a big change in the way Kurds are treated.

The US involvement in Iraq's affairs has also led to changes in the economic and political situation and I think this has generally been for the good.

Before, a person from the Kurdistan region would always be suffering or treated worse off.

Before the US came, I earned US$20 (15.38 euros; £13) a month, but now I earn around US$800 (615 euros; £515) - that helps me make a big difference to my lifestyle.

I also feel we are at a point where we are approaching democracy, especially in our relations with foreign nations.

There are people here who argue that the US came over merely to make sure they could make a profit, but we have to remember the US gave us a degree of freedom and for that I am grateful.

I admit we have still go a way to go, but I feel they have helped us.

Lubna Naji, Baghdad

Image caption Lubna still fears for the future of her country

I'm a practising Muslim Shia and a junior doctor at a struggling trauma centre in Baghdad.

There is a lot of apprehension and worrying in the atmosphere; there is this fear that the security situation may deteriorate at any second once the Americans leave, because the general situation in Iraq has always been unpredictable and unstable.

The fear of the unknown is the worst thing that we have to put up with.

A lot has changed in Iraq over the past nine years... things under Saddam Hussein used to be really really bad, and now they're still bad yet in a totally different way though.

It's really difficult to compare, but I can say that under Saddam's regime, there used to be the stability factor that we do really miss right now.

The security situation has improved remarkably over the years but it's still pretty fragile.

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Media captionLubna Naji talks to the BBC's John Simpson and R4 Today's John Humphrys about life in Iraq

But when it comes to massive corruption, unemployment, miserable basic services like electricity and water supplies, etc, there is still hardly any improvement seen, and that's really both frustrating and disappointing.

The thing that worries me the most is that we still do not have a totally functioning government despite the fact it's been almost two years since the elections.

If you have a powerful and stable government, then you can trust that they would act promptly if things were to go wrong after the US forces left.

But in reality, we're left with an incompetent government that is unwilling to act upon things.

I view the US military forces as occupiers and invaders, they occupied my country, tore up my homeland, messed things up really bad, and made horrific mistakes that can never be forgiven.

I am glad they're leaving but when it comes to my Iraq, it's not just the Americans who messed things up; no one is innocent and everyone has made horrible mistakes that have harmed this country really bad (the US occupation forces, Iraqi politicians, our neighbours, and even ordinary Iraqis themselves).

Iraq is currently going through a very tough situation, but there's still hope in a better tomorrow if all Iraqis become more invested in their country.

As long as we remain apathetic, we're doomed.

@Kassakhoon, Baghdad

Image caption Many took to the streets to show their delight that US forces are leaving Iraq

I have been writing about my life at my blog but I am still worried about my safety and so I post under the name Kassakhoon, the Arabic name for "storyteller".

Honestly, I feel sad about the situation. Iraq is fully messed up as this new Iraq was born deformed and one where Iraqis feel lost.

This occupation only brought us only politicians who care only about their pockets and don't see beyond their personal and parties' interests. They are not acting as statesmen who care about the whole country.

The US-led invasion has changed Iraq a lot. Iraq today is not only damaged and paralysed in terms of infrastructure, economy and so on which can may be fixed over the years, but it emerges from these nine years with a fragmented and divided society that cannot be fixed.

Iraq now has extremists from both Sunnis and Shia; it has an army of millions of widows, orphans, and displaced people.

We have now the culture of violence and not one group trusts the other.

At least before 2003, there was one bad guy, Saddam Hussein but now, each Iraqi has a lot of bad guys surrounding him and enemies not hesitant to harm with all means.

Today we have al-Qaeda in Iraq and the Mahdi Army who did not exist before.

Like the majority of Iraqis, my life is full of bitterness and uncertainties. There is little hope things will become better.

I'm still suffering with trying to secure my family's needs like electricity, water, and accessing better education and health services.

I'm still suffering while driving in the streets where I have to pass through the tens of check points every day which make the shortest and simplest errand hours to get it done.

The security concern is still top among the things we do think of every day - I still find it unwise to visit relatives or friends in remote areas mainly during the night.

The US and foreign troops have done nothing good at all for Iraq and Iraqis. I think the majority of Iraqis, including myself, knew that from the early beginning this would be the case.

Yes, some Iraqis - mainly the Kurds and some who worked with them - benefited from the occupation forces, but the majority of Iraqis have been in mayhem.

They should have said that the military can't rule a country like Iraq and that they should have pulled out immediately after the invasion; leaving Iraqis to decide their future.

Sunnis, Shia, Kurds and others are still not considering themselves as fellow Iraqis but, instead each one wants to rule the country on the way he or she sees the best and the others must accept.

This will only result in the division of Iraq into regions, and then smaller states because each one will find out later they can't rule all Iraq and that it is better to create his/her own region to be a leader of his people.