by Jamal Hashim
BAGHDAD, March 17 (Xinhua) -- "We've got long and painful experience from bloodshed and chaos during the past 10 years. The Americans' promise for a better life is nothing but a little more than a mirage," Iraqi man Abu Ali said while chatting with his friends at a coffee shop in Baghdad's western district of Mansour, days before the 10th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion into Iraq.
A decade after the U.S.-led coalition forces swept Iraq and ousted the country's former leader Saddam Hussein, many Iraqis said they have not yet seen a better life and democracy as promised. To them, the progress of rebuilding their war-torn country has been painfully slow and a stable and prosperous Iraq is still far away.
"How can anyone in the world imagine that the government can rebuild the country when they spend billions of dollars and get results which are only worth few millions," said Abu Taha, one of Abu Ali's friends at the coffee table.
"It is corruption. This is the main disease of Iraq nowadays," the man said after gulping down the last sip of his tea.
Another man at the table, Abu Ahmed, said Iraq has been enjoying greater deal of freedom and democracy during the past 10 years, despite spreading reports about human rights abuses in the country.
"In my opinion, we have seen greater freedom and a little bit of democracy after 2003, but the country remains trapped in horrific cycle of human rights abuses, including attacks against civilians, torture of detainees and unfair trials," he said.
However, Abu Ali interrupted his friend ironically: "Give me justice and security, and take your democracy."
"Actually to me I didn't expect better than that, because from the beginning I was always saying better life is what we create by ourselves, not to wait for foreigners to bring it here," Abu Ali said.
Although life has been partially revived in Iraqi cities 10 years after the war, Ammar Hussein, a 48-year-old engineer, told Xinhua he feels disappointed at the few results in reconstruction compared to the large amount of money the government has spent since 2003.
"I am really disappointed that the post-invasion governments spent more than 600 billion dollars through the annual budgets since 2003 to rebuilding the country but we've only got few results," Hussein said.
Like Hussein, many Iraqis have overtly criticized their government, and some of them frequently took to the streets to demand better public services and protest widespread corruption, unemployment and a sharp rise in the prices of food staples.
In mid-2012, an Iraqi parliamentary committee said Iraq failed to rehabilitate the country's power supply although the government had spent about 27 billion dollars on the electricity sector since 2003.
"We still have acute shortage in electricity. Summer will come soon, and as usual we will see perhaps a little more than 10 hours a day," Hussein said ironically.