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Normal Life Impossible in Bush's Iraq

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Living in Iraq is becoming absolutely impossible.

The numbers tell part of the story. The United Nations announced Tuesday that, on average, 100 Iraqi civilians died every day in May and June. According to the report, about 2,700 civilians were killed in May and 3,100 were killed in June. Two days later, the Iraqi government announced least 162,000 people have fled their homes over the past five months in an effort to escape the sectarian violence that has swept the country.

Amid the violence, the "Iraqi government" has been next to worthless.

On Monday, after a truck bomb killed at least 59 day-laborers in the Shi'ite holy city of Kufa, protesters attacked the Iraqi police.

According to Reuters, after the attacks, police at the scene were pelted with rocks by angry crowds, many of whom demanded that militias loyal to Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr take over security in Kufa. Protesters gathered around the blackened mangle of vehicles - bloodstained clothes scattered amid the debris.

"You are traitors!" some chanted at the police. "You are not doing your job!" "American agents!"

Few in Iraq are unsympathetic to the protesters.
Ali, an Iraqi Special Forces officer in charge of investigating the car bombing in Kufa, said he sympathized with the protesters.

"The police don't have any information about anything," he told me. "They're just kids. They don't really check anything at checkpoints. They just ask people where they are from and let them go without checking anything."

The U.S. military and Iraqi government are only increasing the numbers of police officers rather than their effectiveness, Ali said.

"Until recently, you didn't need any kind of education to join the police. Now, they changed it so you have to have graduated from middle school to apply to be a police officer," he noted.

Gatherings of poor laborers in crowded markets have become a favorite target of fighters who intend to inflict the maximum number of civilian casualties. Baghdad journalist Mo'ayyad al-Hamdani said despite the risk the poor in Iraq still must work in order to eat.

"Why do these workers stand in front of a truck and never suspect anything?" he asked rhetorically. "These workers may have been waiting in the street for more than a week to find work for just one day. So even the work that he's gonna find - it's not going to cover him for one or two weeks until his next day of work."

Those with means, however, are increasingly trying to flee the country. Over the last three years, more than a million Iraqis have fled to Jordan and Syria. Boston University Professor Shakir Mustafa grew up in Iraq and got his Ph.D. at Baghdad University.

Now he's trying to get his family out.

"My family couldn't care less about sect," he told me. "My family are Shi'ites, and they are not saying they hate Sunnis. They are just saying they want to get out because life has becoming impossible."

But Shakir Mustafa says as more Iraqis (and now Lebanese) try to flee, the neighboring countries are becoming less welcoming.

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Pacifica radio network reporter Aaron Glantz is author of the new book "How America Lost Iraq" (Tarcher/Penguin). More information at
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