As U.S. Troops Depart, Some Iraqis Fear Their Own With the exit of American forces under way, some Iraqi security officials are wondering whether they can trust their government to fund the army and police as the U.S. military has. And the situation has some Iraqis wondering if they can rely on their own Iraqi forces to protect them.
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As U.S. Troops Depart, Some Iraqis Fear Their Own

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As U.S. Troops Depart, Some Iraqis Fear Their Own

As U.S. Troops Depart, Some Iraqis Fear Their Own

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. Im Robert Siegel.


And Im Michele Norris.

In Iraq, the American drawdown is on track and thats good news for U.S. troops stationed there who are eager to head home. But it's causing mixed emotions among many Iraqis who worry that their country might not be ready for life without American troops and American money.

NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reports from Baghdad.

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO: Major General Bahaa Noori Yaseen is the head of the Basra Brigade, which is under the direct supervision of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. In theory, he should be able to get whatever he wants for his men. He shows a visiting reporter around his pristine new headquarters.

Major General BAHAA NOORI YASEEN (Commander, Basra Brigade): This is the chow hall for the officers, for the policemen.

(Soundbite of conversations)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: The grounds are impeccable, the buildings newly painted. But the large facility is not the result of any money from Iraq's Ministry of Interior, rather the American military paid about $600,000 to refurbish the property.

Maj. Gen. YASEEN: I should be honest with you, you know the facts. I get everything from the American. What I need, I just ask the American and it's easy to get everything from the American.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: As the U.S. pullout picks up speed, Iraq's security services, which have been relying on Americans for years, are now being left in the lurch.

Maj. Gen. YASEEN: We are complaining from the shortage in the money, because we have no budget at all in our division and even in the federal police. If we want something we should ask, you know, the MOA to send us the money. And it takes a long time.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: General Bahaa has been in possession of this property for over a year, but it's still largely unoccupied. The generator donated by the Iraqi government doesn't work. And in any case, there is no money for fuel. And there's only about one hour of electricity out of seven from the city power grid. To get everything up to scratch, General Bahaa has had to dig into his own coffers.

Maj. Gen. YASEEN: By the way, I paid many times from my pockets.


Maj. Gen. YASEEN: Yeah.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Iraq earns billions of dollars in oil revenue a month. But still, the security services and other Iraqi agencies here still depend on U.S help. And thats not the only reason some here are beginning to miss the Americans. Many here say they mistrust Iraq's security forces.

(Soundbite of traffic)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: In the mainly-Sunni Baghdad district of Adhimiyah, Iraqis scurry from shaded patch to covered awning, trying to escape the oppressive afternoon heat. Recently, the leader of a local paramilitary organization called the Sons of Iraq was assassinated here.

Ziyad Tariq Nouri is a 33-year-old shop owner who witnessed the killing. He says he believes the security forces colluded in the murder.

Mr. ZIYAD TARIQ NOURI (Shop Owner): (Through Translator) Usually there would be an Iraqi army Humvee parked in front of the coffee shop where the victim sat. But on that day, the Humvee was not there.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Ziyad says Iraq's security services are now feared here.

Mr. NOURI: (Through Translator) When they search a house, we do not feel safe. When they detain someone, we panic because we don't know why our young men are taken or to where.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Lowering his voice, he says that security was better under the Americans.

Mr. NOURI: (Through Translator) Americans used to patrol this street and they would come asking what we need. Iraqi soldiers don't pay attention to us. They just talk on their cell phones, ignoring our needs.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: By and large, the U.S. withdrawal is popular here. American operations have left thousands of civilians dead or wounded. Most Iraqis still feel that their country is under occupation, even though tens of thousands of soldiers have pulled out over the past year.

But many here, like Ziyad, say its better the devil you know than the devil you don't. And there is a real fear about what happens after the last American soldier leaves.

Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, NPR News, Baghdad.

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