by Jamal Hashim
BAGHDAD, March 19 (Xinhua) -- Ten years after the U.S. troops led a coalition and invaded Iraq to topple its then Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, the devastating conflict's enduring effects are still felt in the war-worn country and beyond.
Forcing their way into the country, the U.S.-led occupation forces promised a better life for Iraqis, but even now, many people here believe that there is still a long way for such promise to be fulfilled.
Iraqi political experts see that during the past years Iraq has been under pressure of mounting political, social and economic crises, which threaten to disintegrate the country.
Ten years after the invasion, division among the Iraqi main communities - Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds - has been deepening sometimes to a level close to the brink of a civil war.
"The degree of trust among the leaders of the Iraqi factions is almost zero. Such situation creates one of the most dysfunctional states in the history of Iraq," Sabah al-Sheikh, a professor of politics at Baghdad University, told Xinhua.
"The political division in Iraq is a major factor behind the sectarian and ethnic polarization, which in turn makes it almost impossible for any leader to rule the state," Sheikh said.
Since about three months ago, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has been facing regular mass rallies by the Sunni communities in some northern and western provinces.
The Sunnis complain about injustice, marginalization and claim that the Shiite-dominated security forces indiscriminately arrest their sons and torture them.
In addition, the Kurds in the north are also in conflict with the central government over oil resources and disputed areas outside the Kurdish autonomous region, which the Kurds want to incorporate into their domain, a move fiercely opposed by the Arabs and Turkomans.
Sunni and Kurds politicians accused Maliki of pursuing the policy of hegemony on power and marginalizing the government partners.
Many Iraqis welcomed the collapse of Saddam administration, whatever their feeling was toward the foreign occupation forces, because they thought they would restore their normal life after getting rid of UN sanctions and Saddam's wars.
But after ten years they are shocked that none of their dreams comes true, though Iraq now gains over 100 billion U.S. dollars a year of oil revenues.
"Iraqis thought they will get a better life after Saddam but they are disappointed as the post-Saddam governments spent about 600 billion dollars since 2003, without seeing tangible improvement in their cities and public services," Sheikh said.
"With such money (600 billion dollars) our cities could be the best in the region, but corruption, nepotism, bureaucracy and incompetence of the government institutions ruined the country," Sheikh concluded.
"The government spent 7 billion dollars to build sewage system for Baghdad by foreign and local companies, but the sewers either weren't built or were badly built," he said.
Late in January, one day of heavy rain flooded many of Baghdad neighborhoods and streets after the sewage system failed to drain the water, forcing hundreds of vehicles to stop in cold weather, while many other drivers found news routes or forge a head through the water at a very slow speed.
Iraqis are also looking for personal security and the rule of law after ten years of Saddam's fall, but again they feel they don 't have good security environment despite the violence has dramatically plummeted since its peak in 2006 and 2007 when sectarian fighting almost plunged the country into civil war.
"Security now is much improved than during the years of occupation and sectarian strife, but we still looking forward to better life in the future," Ali al-Shareifi, an expert in politics, told Xinhua.
Shareifi largely attributed the fragility of security after ten years of the invasion to the breakdown of the society, let alone the inefficiency of the security forces who are accused of being cruel and corrupt.
The persistence of hostility among Iraqi factions is stirring up sectarian and ethnic division and could strongly bring Iraq back to widespread violence, at a time the country is trying to fend off the spillover of violence from the ongoing conflict in the neighboring Syria, Shareifi added.
Violence and sporadic high-profile bomb attacks are still common in the Iraqi cities.
At least 48 people were killed and 167 wounded in a series of bombings and shootings in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad on Tuesday, an Interior Ministry source told Xinhua.
Several massive explosions, including at least 12 car bombs, ripped through crowded areas mainly in Shiite districts across the capital during the morning rush hours, the source said.
Unstable political situation, persistent violence and painfully slow rebuilding process are the main problems plaguing Iraq 10 years after the outbreak of war.
"The problems in Iraq are links to each other like the rings of a chain. Each ring affects and is affected by another ring, so if we don't open one ring we won't be able open the next one," said Dr. Saad al-Hadithi, a professor of politics at Baghdad University.
Despite all the obstacles, however, many Iraqis believe that Iraq still has a promising future, particularly after the government signed many deals with the world oil companies to boost the oil sector, which will by far turns Iraq to make the biggest contribution to the world oil production in the coming decades.
"The bright side of Iraq is that the country is anticipated to be the number one oil producing countries. I'm excited, and have to look forward to prosperity," Shareifi said.
Iraq is planning to double its crude oil production over the next three years, and has passed the production level of 3 million barrels a day for the first time in three decades.
In 2010 Iraq announced its proven oil reserves had increased to 143.1 billion barrels rising from the previous estimation of 115 billion barrels.