Iraqis in Baghdad are cautiously welcoming the early transfer of sovereignty
to an interim government. The transfer is raising some hope that the government
will now have the power it needs to tackle the country's mounting security problem.
Like many Iraqis in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq, months of escalating violence
have left 21-year-old college student Nadim Mohammed frightened, and worried
about the country's future.
Mr. Mohammed says he is happy to see Iraqis in charge of the country's affairs
for the first time since Saddam Hussein was toppled almost 15 months ago. He
says his most fervent hope is that the new government will be able to quell
the violence that has caused so much death and misery for the Iraqi people.
"I think things are getting worse day after day and I can't see the light
at the end of the tunnel," Mr. Mohammed said. "Security and stability is my
first demand and after that, the economic problems of Iraq. They must do something
to improve all of that."
Iraqi prime minister, Iyad Allawi, who was sworn into office several hours
after the transfer of power, says the date was moved up because he believed
the security threat could be better tackled if Iraqis were in charge as soon
as possible. He says that bringing stability will be the government's number
But many Iraqis say they remain concerned about the large number of coalition
troops, who have been asked by the prime minister to remain in Iraq to train
and assist Iraqi forces.
There are currently about 160,000 troops from the United States, Britain
and other countries in Iraq. Some Iraqis, like 36-year-old electrical engineer
Salah Abdullah, blame the presence of coalition troops for much of the violence
in the country and say Iraq cannot be called sovereign until they leave.
"It is not complete independence from the occupation force because the occupation
force still exists on the ground," Salah Abdullah said. "I hope they will let
the new government work, not interfere in their business."
Still, others say they believe Monday's handover of power was a positive
step toward the goal of eventually having a democratically elected government
"It's a very big thing that we have our own government now and we're looking
for elections to have our selected government," said 24-year-old Ahmed Amid,
an employee at the Ministry of Communications. "Everything has a beginning
and I think we've started with the correct thing."
Coalition officials hope that will be the prevailing Iraqi view, and that
it will take the steam out of the insurgency and help bring stability to Iraq.