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A decade on, stability eludes Iraq

A decade on, stability eludes Iraq
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A decade after US-led forces took control of Baghdad on April 9, 2003, sealing the ouster of Saddam Hussein's brutal regime, Iraq remains plagued by...

fir2A decade after US-led forces took control of Baghdad on April 9, 2003, sealing the ouster of Saddam Hussein's brutal regime, Iraq remains plagued by deadly attacks and never-ending political crises.

Remembered by the world for the iconic images of Iraqis pulling down a statue of Saddam in central Baghdad's Firdos Square - helped in no small part by an American military unit - the fall of the capital is a far more emotive day in Iraq than the anniversary of the invasion itself two weeks earlier.

Though the war itself was relatively brief - six weeks after foreign troops invaded, then-US president George W Bush infamously declared the mission accomplished - its aftermath was bloody and fractious. Caught between Shitte militia groups and Sunni insurgents, US and coalition forces paid a heavy price - some 4,800 foreign troops died in Iraq, more than 90 per cent of them American.

Iraqis, though, suffered even more. Britain-based NGO Iraq Body Count recently estimated at least 1,12,000 Iraqi civilians died in the decade. But sharp divisions in how April 9 is seen within Iraq - between those who remember it as the day the country was liberated and others who see it as the day it was occupied - have spurred the government to eschew any formal commemorations.

The anniversary does, however, come at a significant juncture in Iraq, barely 10 days ahead of provincial elections, the country's first polls since US troops withdrew at the end of 2011.

The credibility of the vote has been drawn into question as a result of still-high bloodshed and a cabinet decision for a partial postponement that means only 12 of the country's 18 provinces will go to the polls. Along with attacks on election hopefuls, violence remains a menace nationwide, with 271 people killed last month, the highest figure since August 2012, according to an AFP tally. (The Australian)

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