03/16/2009, 00.00
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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."

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