22 March 2018

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03/16/2009 IRAQ

Iraq looks to future with "optimism." Economic crisis feared more than security

Violence and lack of security are not the main cause of concern. 85% of Iraqis call the current situation "very good or quite good." Sources for AsiaNews confirm the reopening of shops and businesses. The country must promote economic alternatives to oil, like tourism and agriculture.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) - Violence and lack of security are no longer the main cause of concern for Iraqis. This is the result of a recent survey, and is confirmed by sources for AsiaNews in the country. "An improvement in the quality of life is evident," confirms one Iraqi Chaldean Christian, but there remains the "concern over attacks in recent days in Baghdad," following which the government and the Presidency Council have opened "an official investigation" to discover the "causes and perpetrators of these actions."

According to a survey conducted in February by the BBC, ABC News, and NHK, for the first time since 2003 Iraqis say they are "more upbeat" about the future. The survey examined the responses of 2,228 citizens of the 18 provinces into which the country is subdivided: the main concerns stem from "everyday problems" like "the economy and work." In the matter of security, 85% of those interviewed call the current situation "very good or quite good," with an increase of 23% compared to last year. Only 8% say that security has worsened, compared to 26% in 2008. 59% say they "feel safe" in the area where they live, compared to the previous 37%.

"The improvement in the level of security," confirm the sources for AsiaNews, "is a concrete fact, but we must not let down our guard. The recent attacks in Baghdad are confirmation of this." Last March 13, a series of dynamite attacks killed one woman and wounded seven other people; on March 10, a suicide attack northwest of the capital killed or injured at least 60 people. "The new development with respect to the past is that the government and the Presidency Council have promoted a parliamentary inquiry into the reasons for the attacks. The intention is to understand whether these are due to a breach in the security system, or whether they were just isolated incidents."

For Iraq as well, the main causes of concern derive from the global financial crisis and the effort to revive the nation's economy: "Shops and businesses are being reopened. In Mosul," one local source recounts, "a car repair shop has been reopened, run by a Christian family. The demand for repairs is strong, and the spare parts are available. The people want to revive businesses that were abandoned because of the war. There is again talk of hospitals, schools, education, energy and raw materials."

In recent days Iraqi interior minister Jawad al-Bolani has stated that "the military operations against al Qaeda are over"; now the focus will shift to "targeted activity on the level of intelligence and the secret services," against the "leaders of the movement." The first victims of terrorism have been the Iraqi Christians, for whom "a sense of threat remains," because "the memory of the recent massacres" is still strong. "There is not absolute trust," confirm the Christians of Mosul, "but there is an undeniable sense of hope for the future."

In order to provide a new boost to the country's economy, it is necessary to guarantee high standards of security, so that "the big international companies may again invest in Iraq." "The economic crisis and the fall in the price of oil," confirm the sources for AsiaNews, "have aggravated the problem, but the country can rely on its natural resources and water reserves, on agriculture and archaeological and religious tourism: if the country is truly able to stabilize itself, the economy will also see beneficial effects over the long term."

See also

09/10/2008 IRAQ
Islamic fundamentalists: "expel Christians from Mosul"
Yesterday, a 38-year-old Chaldean was shot to death, but there could be a total of three victims. Men are driving around the city shouting slogans against the Christians, threatening more slaughter and violence. From the U.S. command, confirmation that Mosul has become the last stronghold of the al Qaeda militants.

27/10/2008 IRAQ - VATICAN
Chaldean bishop: appeal for Mosul, emptied of Christians
Urged by the appeal of Benedict XVI, Rabban Al Qas, bishop of Ammadiya and Erbil, asks prime minister al Maliki and the American forces to accept responsibility for the violence afflicting Christians, the result of an intolerant fundamentalism that has never been halted. A request to the Islamic world as well, that it condemn what is taking place in Mosul. Tomorrow in Erbil, a meeting of Chaldean bishops and of the Vatican nuncio.

23/10/2008 IRAQ
More violence in Mosul: father and son killed because they were Christian
Despite the hopes of the government and part of the population, the massacre of Christians continues in Iraq. The killing could be another signal for the Christians to leave the country. Prime minister al Maliki promises to "punish the guilty and their supporters."

22/10/2008 IRAQ
Chaldean bishop of Kirkuk: Christians being driven out of Mosul for political reasons
The prelate launches an appeal, calling upon all to defend the minorities in Iraq, and the Christian minority, the target of many attacks, especially in Mosul. For the bishop, the Christians are victims of a political game connected to the upcoming elections, and to the project for a Christian enclave in the plain of Nineveh. An appeal to the Christians of the West as well, that they denounce every act of violence and to demonstrate solidarity and fellowship.

27/11/2008 INDIA
India, long a target of terror (overview)
At least 600 dead since 2002: this is the tally of terrorist attacks that have struck the country over the past six years.

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