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Four Years After Start of the U.S.-Led Invasion, Iraqis Give Their Views

Aired March 19, 2007 - 12:00   ET


ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR, YOUR WORLD TODAY: Four years after the start of the U.S.-led invasion, Iraqis give us their views on the state of their union.

TRANSLATOR: I miss him so much (INAUDIBLE) says. I'm dying to see him.


JIM CLANCY, CNN ANCHOR, YOUR WORLD TODAY: Families ripped apart by war. Why some Iraqis make the toughest decision of all -- to leave.

CHURCH: Zimbabwe's president hears cheers and turns a deaf ear to intense international criticism over a violent crackdown.

CLANCY: And the plane facts, the world's largest jumbo jet prepares to touch down on U.S. soil in two places from the first time.

It is 7:00 p.m. right now in Iraq, 6:00 in the evening in Harari (ph), Zimbabwe. Hello and welcome to our report broadcast all around the globe. I'm Jim Clancy.

CHURCH: I'm Rosemary Church

From Baghdad to (INAUDIBLE) JFK airport to LAX, wherever you're watching, this is YOUR WORLD TODAY.

Hello, everyone. Well, the mission was clear. The resolve was strong. U.S.-led troops would disarm Iraq and free its people and defend the world from grave danger.

CLANCY: Remember that? That was four years ago today. George W. Bush giving those reasons for war as combat operations were getting under way.

CHURCH: The U.S. called it shock and awe, hoping the firepower would help bring a decisive victory.

CLANCY: Well, time and history would prove differently perhaps with no end in sight. Opposition to this war has never been higher.

CHURCH: President Bush says he's determined to persevere using the anniversary to appeal for patience. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It could be tempting to look at the challenges in Iraq and conclude our best option is to pack up and go home. That may be satisfying in the short run. But I believe the consequences for American security would be devastating.


CHURCH: Now, when the bombs began falling, many Iraqis had high hopes of a better life. Now many just hope to make it through each day without falling victim to the relentless insurgent attacks. It's hard to get an accurate count of just how many lives have been lost, but the United Nations says nearly 35,000 Iraqis civilians were killed just last year alone. Now, a poll shows four out of five Iraqis have little or no confidence in U.S.-led forces. Most in fact think their presence is making the security situation even worse.


TRANSLATOR: We have not seen peace of mind or stability since the war. We suffer misfortunes and wars. The Iraqi people in general are being targeted without exception.

TRANSLATOR: Many people were happy to see Saddam's fall, but people are no longer happy as they've seen the country wrecked by violence, by terrorists and criminal groups.


CLANCY: Now the other side of all of this, families in the United States feeling the loss of loved ones who have died in the war or been severely wounded. With the U.S. military death toll now topping 3200, critics are demanding President Bush bring the rest of the forces home.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Four years ago we weren't happy. Today we aren't happy.


CLANCY: Now, from Washington to New York to San Francisco, protesters filled the streets, calling for an immediate end to the war over the weekend. More demonstrations are expected to come today, throughout the day.

CHURCH: Now, the staggering statistics and each one has a story of heartache attached to it. We're talking about the number of Iraqis who have fled the war or who have been forced to leave their homes. Kyra Phillips reports, it's a war that has divided a nation and many of its families.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): I miss him so much (INAUDIBLE) says. I'm dying to see him. Rabia (ph) and her son Bahaa are 800 miles apart. He in Cairo, his parents in Iraq. Bahaa, a successful doctor, made a life or death decision, to risk living in constant terror in Iraq or get his family out.

KARIM SUDANEE, FATHER: I miss the city (INAUDIBLE) looking to the sky (INAUDIBLE). It is very difficult to leave everything behind you and go, not knowing the future. It is very difficult.

PHILLIPS: But that meant leaving behind his career and his beautiful home. But most excruciatingly of all, Bahaa was forced to leave his parents.

BAHAA SUDANEE, SON: We are old people Karim Sudanee tells me. We can't afford to leave what we've gathered like money and a house. If we die, we've had a long life, and it will not be a big loss.

PHILLIPS: That decision broke their son's heart.

K SUDANEE: The hardest things in separation, that you are troubling you see the tears in the eyes of your mother. You can't hear it, and you don't know when you'll return.

PHILLIPS: There are more than two million Iraqi refugees now, forced by fear to separate. Many of them must choose between the life of an exile or the constant threat of war. Rabia sleeps with her Koran next to her head every night. Karim son waters his son's garden every day, both waiting for their son to come home.

K. SUDANEE: We are still trust that our nations (INAUDIBLE) and can solve all the problem inside the country quickly and so we can return again to our country.


CHURCH: That report from our Kyra Phillips who joins us now from Baghdad. Kyra, you've just been there for a matter of days now. A fresh pair of eyes on the ground in Iraq, what were your first impressions of a life of people there and how they deal with life there day to day?

PHILLIPS: Yeah, it really amazed me Rosemary. I was not expecting to see everything that I have observed thus far. When you're talking about refugees, you're talking two million people fled this country. They're living in Jordan and Syria. Then you have another 600,000 Iraqis that are displaced right here inside Iraq. I mean, Bahaa was lucky that he had the money to leave the country, even though he misses his parents and he wants his parents to be with him. When you talk about the displaced Iraqis in the camps, the displaced refugee camps, we had a chance to good there as well and they don't have an option. They don't have the money to get out of the country. They have to live in tents. They have to live in mud huts and they're just keeping their fingers crossed that the security question or the security situation gets better and that they'll be able to take on a job that makes more money and provide for their family. CHURCH: Kyra, did you find that they were able to talk to you openly about what they thought about this war and how their lives have changed from the time that Saddam Hussein was there to present day?

PHILLIPS: That's a great question because I asked every Iraqi the same question. I first asked them, how was your life under Saddam Hussein? They say it was better. It was safe. We could make money. We lived a pretty good life. But at the same time they said, but he was an evil dictator. He needed to go. He tortured people. He killed people without question. Now, fast-forward, going into the fifth year of this war, they say they want their freedom, they want democracy, but they want security and they just want to be able to get back to that normal life.

CHURCH: Indeed, it's an unpredictable life. Kyra Phillips reporting there from Baghdad, thanks so much. Jim?

CLANCY: Like you point out, fresh eyes looking at the situation there. Kyra, of course, covered the invasion as it was happening, but, at the same time, she's there on the ground in Baghdad telling us what it looks like today. We're trying to show you what it looks like not only in Iraq but back in the United States where the pain of war does resonate as far away as the community of Dearborn, Michigan. U.S. affairs editor Jim Dougherty takes us there and explains why.


JIM DOUGHERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sayed Hassan al Qazwini knows only too well what many of his fellow Iraqis went through before they came to Dearborn, Michigan. Fifteen of his relatives, including his grandfather, were killed by Saddam Hussein's regime. Qazwini is the imam of Dearborn's Islamic center of America, the largest mosque in North America. Dearborn now has the highest concentration of Arab-Americans in the United States, one-quarter of them Iraqi refugees from the 1991 Gulf war. At his mosque, the imam says there is a sense of anger and disappointment over this war.

SAYED HASSAN AL QAZWINI, ISLAMIC CENTER OF AMERICA: Imagine there were people who were waiting for this day in which Saddam was removed, for almost 35 years. People were desperately waiting for his removal and to see an end for his oppression and injustice. Just to counter another unbelievable scenery that is going on in their country, plunging in civil war.

DOUGHERTY: Iraq is constantly on the minds of people here in Dearborn. Many of them still have family in Iraq and they talk with them frequently by phone. Over the past four years, they've gone from joy over the end of Saddam Hussein to grief over what's happening right now in Iraq. Nineteen-year-old university student Suda Hassan says when she talks with her family in Baghdad, she can hear the fear in their voices. She says the U.S. should do more to put Iraq back on its feet.

SURA HASSAN, UNIVERSITY STUDENT: You can't just start a mess and walk out, you know. If you were going to go in and do it, you should have done it right. Since you didn't, you still have time to fix it. You can't just walk away from it.

DOUGHERTY: Warren Avenue in Dearborn, a street filled with Arab- American owned businesses. This cafe owner tells a different story. His four sisters live in the comparatively peaceful southern Iraqi town of Samawa (ph).

HASSAN JALIL AL BOUTIOUR, CAFE OWNER: Before Saddam say you kill people is too much, you kill people too much. Right now it's OK. Yeah.

DOUGHERTY: But try telling that university student Ghufran Al- Sheemary.

GHUFRAN AL-SHEEMARY, UNIVERSITY STUDENT: I think that when Saddam Hussein was in presidency, it was a lot safer and better for people because now the terrorism is just out of control and people are getting killed left and right.

DOUGHERTY: Iraqis in Dearborn, Michigan, seem to agree on one thing -- Iraqis should have more power to manage their own affairs. Listen to this Safaa Al-Atibi. He manages a food store but used to study law at Baghdad University. So the Iraqis should do it for themselves?

SAFAA AL-ATIBI, STORE OWNER: I think, yeah, sooner or later.

DOUGHERTY: Some Iraqi-Americans say they'd like to go back and help rebuild Iraq. Karar Alabbasi works part-time and is studying engineering, but he's worried.

KARAR ALABBASI, UNIVERSITY STUDENT: First for my safety, I guess.

DOUGHERTY: The Iraq that he and his family once knew, he fears, no longer exists. Jill Dougherty, CNN, Dearborn, Michigan.


CLANCY: Here on YOUR WORLD TODAY, we're going to be looking a lot more at both sides of this story, how things are developing from the White House to a talk radio station.

CHURCH: That's right. We've got some guests coming up. So stay tuned for that.

For the time now, we do want to check some other news that we've been following this day.

CLANCY: We're going to begin in Afghanistan. The Taliban claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that targeted a U.S. embassy convoy in Kabul. That attack wounded several embassy personnel, one of them seriously. An Afghan boy who was talking by at the time and he was killed.

The Taliban also releasing an Italian journalist who was kidnapped two weeks ago. Danieli Mastrajacomo (ph) was handed over to Italian embassy officials. He is reported to be in good health.

CHURCH: Stinging condemnations for Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabi for a recent string of beatings and intimidation against opposition leaders. A group of men severely beaten. Legislator (INAUDIBLE) airport. Now, the U.S. ambassador suggests police are now reluctant to carry out the crackdown so Mugabi is resorting to youth militias and agent from his feared intelligence force.

CLANCY: Six-party nuclear talks resuming in Beijing today after the U.S. agreed to release two North Korea, $25 million in disputed funds. This money was frozen at a Macau bank two years ago. That was following allegations North Korea was laundering counterfeit U.S. currency. Pyongyang boycotted the talks for more than a year after that.

CHURCH: The U.S. State Department has granted a visa for the Iranian president. Mahmoud Ahmadninejad will travel to New York to address the UN Security Council as it debates more sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program. The date of his trip has not yet been announced. It's also unclear how many people will actually be traveling with the president.

CLANCY: We're going to take our first break here. But coming up as promised, we'll have that look back after four years of war in Iraq.

CHURCH: That's right. The situation seems to have gone from bad to worse. We'll talk with an Iraqi journalist who knows all too well what war has done to his country.

And later --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He had ended himself to Pakistanis and we are very, very sad.


CLANCY: The world of cricket in mourning after the sudden death of Pakistan's coach Bob Wolmer (ph).


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: At this hour, American and coalition forces are if the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people, and to defend the world from grave danger.

CHURCH: Welcome back to CNN international and YOUR WORLD TODAY.

CLANCY: We're really working today to give you some perspective on events four years ago. That's when the U.S., of course, invaded Iraq. That was the president you saw a moment earlier announcing the start of the air war at least in Iraq. Expectations were high that the invasion would liberate the country. Still, after four years, the Iraqi people are having to live with daily bloodshed, kidnappings and a lack of security. One person who has lived this downhill spiral is Iraq journalist Aymad Al Rikaby. He's the founder of radio Dijla (ph). He joins us now on the line from London. We have talked numerous times Aymad over the past three or four years about how people are thinking in Iraq. As we describe what faces everybody, the lack of security day to day, with their families, your own family, there at radio Dijla came under the attack over the weekend. Tell us a little about that.

AYMAD AL RIKABY, IRAQ JOURNALIST: Well, Jim, two of our staff were kidnapped a couple of days ago. And this is the sixth case of kidnapping and killing, targeting the staff of radio Dijla. We still don't know anything about our staff and we're praying that they will be released some miraculous way.

CLANCY: Who is in charge? Where are the radio station offices in Baghdad? Who is in charge of that area?

RIKABY: Well, we are currently based in the bloodiest part of Baghdad. It's called (INAUDIBLE). It's in western Baghdad. The area was controlled for at least the last six months by al Qaeda and currently we think al Qaeda left the area and it's under an insurgency group called the Islamic army. But two days ago, since this kidnapping took place, the Iraqi army and the multi-national forces came to this area, which is one of the bloodiest areas and at the same time, a forgotten area.

I wondered why they didn't do anything about it for -- they should have done something about it a long time ago. But it seems that they are very serious now about this situation and since they entered this area, they have been facing fierce resistance from the insurgency in the area. There is a battle taking place at least once every hour, so it's a very, very serious situation.

CLANCY: Let me ask you -- radio Dijla talks to the people of Iraq, especially the people of Baghdad, one of the areas that's hardest hit. I'm just wondering what they have to say. What have they been telling you? How has their attitude changed since four years ago?

RIKABY: Well, a recent survey which was done by another organization, not radio Dijla and I think it's worth mentioning, because it's included over 5,000 Iraqis, shows that 46 percent of the Iraqi population don't want to go back to the days of Saddam Hussein, while 16 percent think that there is no difference between the past and the present, while 26 percent think it was better under Saddam Hussein. I believe this is a very representative survey, and I believe it represents also what the listeners of the radio Dijla think about the situation. We can't say it got better. We can't say it got worse.

The realistic description of the situation is that it got better in some areas and got worse in other areas. What we focus on all the time in the media is Baghdad and the troubled areas around Baghdad. We are talking about four provinces out of 18 provinces. So it's not really completely bad in Iraq. It's maybe very bad in some provinces, but I think it got better in other areas. If you go to northern Iraq, it's a completely different situation. It has nothing to do with the situation in Baghdad. People are enjoying a relatively good life. If you go to the south of Iraq, people under Saddam Hussein were deprived from electricity, a province like al Saria (ph) had electricity for only one hour in the day under Saddam Hussein. Now they have eight hours electricity. While Baghdad under Saddam Hussein enjoyed almost 20 hours of electricity and these days only two hours if not one.

CLANCY: All right. Aymad Al-Rikaby, our thoughts and our prayers go out to you and your staff members right now with several members of radio Dilja kidnapped at this hour. We can only hope for the very best. And thank you, as always, for sharing with us a perspective of the Iraqi people themselves.

CHURCH: We're going to have more on the situation in Iraq, including a conversation with the director of Iraq program at the U.S. Security Council later this hour.

CLANCY: But up next, New York police department officers are facing charges in the killing of an unarmed man on his wedding day.


TONY HARRIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone. I'm Tony Harris at the CNN center in Atlanta. More of YOUR WORLD TODAY in just a few minutes, but first, a check on story making headlines.

In the United States, the groom shooting case, the echo of those deadly gunshots ringing loudly in New York today. Criminal charges are announced against two of the police officers who opened fire on three unarmed men. Sean Bell died in a burst of 50 bullets. He was to be married just hours after the shooting. The case ignited outrage in New York. Manslaughter charges are filed against two detectives, Michael Oliver fired 31 times. (INAUDIBLE) shot 11 times. Detective Mark Cooper faces a misdemeanor endangerment charge.

Rescue teams stepping up their search today for a missing Boy Scott. Twelve-year-old Michael Auberry went missing Saturday during a camping trip to Doton (ph) Park in North Carolina. Yesterday searchers found footprints and the boy's mess kit. The search was scaled back last night out of concern for the safety of the rescuers. More than 100 people are looking for the boy today on the ground and in the air.


BRENT PENNINGTON, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE: We're concentrating now, again -- the trails have been covered multiple times. We've covered some of the high probability areas. We're concentrating on a more thorough search, what we call a grid search where we put people at closer spacing, work slower. Initially you get people out and cover the high probability areas as fast as possible and get as much terrain covered as possible. If that's unsuccessful, as it has been to this point, then you start slowing down a little bit and you start closing up the gaps and looking at those areas a little bit closer so that you can come up with a higher percentage probability that he is or is not there.


HARRIS: As temperatures dropped below freezing the last two nights, but Auberry has had some training in survival techniques and was dressed for the elements. Police say there are no signs of foul play.

The war in Iraq enters its fifth year. The invasion four years ago today starting with U.S. bombing raids over Baghdad on this anniversary. President Bush had this to say.


BUSH: It can be tempting to look at the challenges in Iraq and conclude our best option is to pack up and go home. That may be satisfying in the short run. But I believe the consequences for American security would be devastating. If American forces were to step back from Baghdad before it is more secure, a contagion of violence could spill out across the country. In time, this violence could engulf the region. The terrorists could emerge from the chaos with a safe haven in Iraq to replace the one they had in Afghanistan which they used to plan the attacks of September 11, 2001. For the safety of the American people, we cannot allow this to happen.


HARRIS: Can we do this? Let's go live to Los Angeles. I want to show you pictures of this Air bus A-380. What a great shot, coming into LAX, Los Angeles international airport, this huge super jumbo jet making its inaugural flight to the United States. Whoa! Steady, steady, steady. There you go. We should tell you that this particular flight originated in Australia. This plane operated Quantas Air and there are no passengers on this particular flight, just flight crew. It is in the Los Angeles area at LAX for tests today and the first test passed with a landing. Any landing is a safe landing and there you go. We have this huge A-380 Airbus on the ground safely, a little wobbly at Los Angeles international airport.

Acts of terror to tell you about now. Word of a confession. The Associated Press reporting a Pentagon transcript says a terror suspect has confessed to planning the USS Cole bombing. And the suspect, Waleed Mohammed Bin Attash (ph), being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. According to the report, he also confessed to helping plan the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in east Africa. Two hundred thirteen people died in those blasts.

Legendary music producer Phil Spector, accused of murder, his trial in the shooting death of an actress begins this afternoon. What to expect in court at the top of the hour in the NEWSROOM.

Meantime, "Your World Today" continues after a quick break.

I'm Tony Harris.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) JIM CLANCY, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome back to YOUR WORLD TODAY, seen in more than 200 countries and territories right around the globe, including here in the United States.

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: That's right. This is YOUR WORLD TODAY. I'm Rosemary Church.

CLANCY: I'm Jim Clancy. And these are the stories that are making headlines in YOUR WORLD TODAY.

U.S. President George W. Bush is appealing for patience on the fourth anniversary of the start of the Iraq War. He gave a brief statement on Monday from the White House, saying success is possible but it will take months, not days or weeks. Thousands of Americans, meanwhile, mark the anniversary by protesting the war, demanding U.S. troops be brought home.

CHURCH: The Taliban says they're behind a suicide bombing that targeted a U.S. embassy convoy in the Afghan capital of Kabul. The attack injured several embassy personnel. One of them seriously. An Afghan boy walking by at the time was killed.

The Taliban also released an Italian journalist who was kidnapped two weeks ago. Daniele Mastrogiacomo was handed over to Italian embassy officials. He is reported to be in good health.

CLANCY: Turning now to Africa. In Zimbabwe, the U.S. ambassador there suggesting perhaps an important shift. Police now reluctant to carry out a violent crackdown on opposition leaders. A crackdown ordered by President Robert Mugabe. Now a group of men did severely beat legislator Nelson Chamisa at the Harare Airport on Sunday. The ambassador believes Mugabe is now resorting to using youth militias or agents from his intelligence services to crack down on his political opponents.

At least 61 miners were killed when a methane gas explosion ripped through a Siberian coal mine today. The Associated Press is reporting it is among the deadliest mining accident in Russia in the past 10 years. Officials say at least 88 miners have been brought safely up to the surface and evacuation efforts for others are continuing.

CHURCH: All right. Back to Iraq now. And U.S. President George W. Bush asked the U.S. Congress and the country for more patience on this anniversary of the Iraq War. He'll get it from some, but it will certainly be a hard sell for many others. We want to bring in our guest from Washington now. Brett McGurk is the director for Iraq for the U.S. National Security Council. He joins us now.

You know, four years on. The people of Iraq are not looking at liberation, they're looking at dangerously high levels of lack of security and bloodshed. How do you explain to them that this war was necessary?

BRETT MCGURK, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: Well, I think, Rosemary, we have to focus on where we are now. And the president said, this might not be the fight we wanted, but it's the fight we're in and we have to succeed. We're focused on the new strategy that's in place. And, remember, it's very early.

The Iraqi people are starting to see some changes, but we're still at the input stage. The president heard from the prime minister today in a joint video teleconference about the inputs and the Iraqis stepping up to the plate. We're starting to see security gains in Baghdad. These are all very early indicators. They're not trends yet. But murders and executions are down by about 50 percent.

We're getting more tips from Iraqis than we ever have before. February set an all-time high. That's a sign of growing confidence among the Iraqi people.

But this is going to take time. This is entirely new strategy. It's fundamentally different than what we were doing a year ago. And patience is the word of the day.

CHURCH: This is an admission, though, these additional troops changing direction, it's an admission, really, that mistakes were made, isn't it?

MCGURK: The president has said, when he addressed the American people on January 10th, we have made mistakes and we've adjusted. This new strategy corrects for failures and it builds on successes. It builds on what has worked. It's a new security strategy. It's a new diplomatic strategy. It's a new economic strategy.

And it's a new -- our civilian teams getting integrated with our military teams, working with the Iraqi people, Iraqi security forces, and providing the space for the Iraqi politicians and political leaders to pursue the reconciliation process. It's going to take time, but the indicator we're seeing now are good. We like what we're seeing.

CHURCH: All right. If this new strategy and these additional troops don't work, what then? What's the plan?

MCGURK: Well, right now, Rosemary, we are focused like a laser on this strategy. Again, we are still at the input stage. Our reinforcements aren't going to be in place until June. Iraqi security forces are just getting into place. Our new commander has not even been there for a month.

So we're focusing on making this strategy succeed. It's a dynamic situation. We're looking at it every day, every week and every month. And we'll continue to adjust to make sure that we're on the track, that we continue to see positive indicators and turn those indicators into trends.

CHURCH: All right. Brett McGurk, thanks so much for talking with us. Appreciate it.

MCGURK: Thank you.

CHURCH: Jim. CLANCY: All right. We see there, as the war in Iraq drags on, many people, including the White House, say it's winnable. Public opinion, though, shifted the other way. Jonathan Mann gives us some insight on that.

JONATHAN MANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Some new polls are out and the easiest way to put it is that to the American public, the war in Iraq is looking worse and worse. Let's start with one number from a new CNN/Opinion Research poll.

Support for the war in Iraq has dropped 40 points in the last four years. Forty points. From 72 percent then to 32 percent now. The latest numbers work out nearly two to one, in fact. The 32 percent favoring the war outnumbered, vastly outnumbered, by fully 63 percent opposing it.

And it's not just the numbers. It is the trend, too, which tells us that time is working against the war. Back when the war began, remember I mention that it had 72 percent support. Well, a little bit later, in 2004, it was down to 48 percent support. Watch the numbers. It held through the next year to about 47 percent. But by the following year, 2006, it was down to 40 percent. Look at it now. The slide continues -- 32 percent.

Over the weekend, we saw evidence in the streets of several U.S. cities anti-war demonstrations and a counter protest in Washington, D.C. They weren't really massive gatherings, just a few thousand in each case, which is interesting, but they were in Washington and in other cities as well.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is my country and I love it and I thank God for the president and all the president that really stands for freedom. That's what it's all about, freedom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I respect their point of view, but, you know, we're going to continue to represent the majority of America.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anger, rage. I can't believe it's been four years already. It's going to go on for how many more years? I don't know.


MANN: Let me mention another poll that's also very revealing, rather. It is of Iraqis, not Americans. And it was conducted for a group of U.S. and European media. It found that only 39 percent of Iraqis describe their lives as good right now. That very basic measure is half. It was double that in November of 2005 -- 71 percent.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE, (through translator): We were in a good situation during Saddam's era. Our standard of living was good. The economy of our country was better than now. We, the Iraqi people, Sunnis and Shiites, were living together.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, (through translator): We had imagined that the situation would improve for the Iraqi people, but, in fact, the situation has worsened even more. There is no security now. Explosions, bomb blasts, killing and sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shiites.


MANN: There have been a lot of polls and different polls do find different things. "The Sunday Times" of London published an Opinion Research business poll which found that Iraqis say they are still better off than they used to be. It found that Iraqis actually prefer life right now to the lives that they had under Saddam Hussein by a margin of two to one. Go figure.

Back to you.

CLANCY: All right. We try to figure all of that out. And, you know, as we heard here a little bit earlier from Akman Alrikabi (ph), that talk radio station, it really depends on where you ask people. In the north, for the Kurds, it's very good. In the far south, for many of the Shia, the situation is much improved. It's in that heartland, that Baghdad.

CHURCH: That's right. Baghdad used to be great. Now it's quite the opposite.

CLANCY: Exactly.

We've got to take a short break.

CHURCH: When we come back, a father's plea.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please, let my son go, now, today.


CHURCH: A week with no word on the BBC reporter kidnapped in Gaza. We'll hear from his family.


CHURCH: And a warm welcome back. You're watching YOUR WORLD TODAY here on CNN International.

CLANCY: We're seen live in more than 200 countries and territories right around the globe.

And for days now, we have been watching closely the images coming out of Zimbabwe. The opposition, severely beaten, in hospital beds, gashes on their heads. Jeff Koinange tells us, this systematic crackdown is having far-reaching effects in a country that has been wracked by poverty and 1,000 percent or more inflation. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEFF KOINANGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): Twenty-eight- year-old Elizabeth Dube never imagined she'd end up making beds and washing dishes for a living. Just seven months ago, she was earning a good living as a teacher in her native Zimbabwe, something she had done for four years. But Zimbabwe's government is cracking down on teachers and other professionals. Elizabeth Dube fled to South Africa. The only work she could find was as a domestic.

ELIZABETH DUBE, FORMER TEACHER: Not seeing in a single day my dreams or in my fantasies did it ever cross my mind that I would ever be in like this situation at all. And I would say it's -- I only told my family for three months ago, (INAUDIBLE) I would say it was embarrassing for me.

KOINANGE: In South Africa alone, there are estimates of up to 3 million refugees from Zimbabwe. Many here illegally. Many more cross the border on an almost daily basis, fleeing growing repression by the government of Robert Mugabe.

MOEIETSI MBEKI, POLITICAL ANALYST: A deliberate strategy to show to the followers of the opposition that their own leaders cannot protect themselves, let alone protect the constituency.

KOINANGE: The latest crackdowns are nothing new for the Zimbabwe government under Mugabe. Not long after he came to power in 1980, there was trouble in Zimbabwe's south. Mugabe sent in North Korean trained troops and more than 20,000 people were killed.

But it's not just the crackdown on dissidents driving people out of Zimbabwe. The country's economy is getting worse by the day. Inflation is the worst in the world, around 1700 percent. And eight in 10 Zimbabweans are estimated to be out of work.

Life is not much better for those like Elizabeth Dube who have fled.

DUBE: Three years. Now I've never told any of my friends what I'm doing because I don't know how they would react to this. I believe it's embarrassing for me, but I'm making a living out of it. That's what I tell myself.

KOINANGE: But for people like Elizabeth Dube, there seems to be no end in sight to the misery and suffering. No end in sight to the brutal, political crackdowns in Zimbabwe, or an economy that cannot get much worse.


CLANCY: There we were looking at an embarrassed young woman, Elizabeth Dube. But the government isn't embarrassed at all. Jeff Koinange joins us now live from Johannesburg, South Africa.

Jeff, when you look at the situation, I understand the foreign minister called in some of the western diplomats. What happened? KOINANGE: That's right, Jim. And you know what he told them? He told them, any foreign government seeming to be supporting the opposition with financial means or diplomatic means will be summarily dismissed and expelled from the country. And in that very meeting, Jim, U.S. Ambassador Christopher Dell walked out. Increasing signs of desperation by the Mugabe government. Critics say he's like a cornered animal. Now all he has to do or he can do is lash out.

CLANCY: Now the opposition has gone to the airports. They wanted to get out. You describe people. What is the situation?

KOINANGE: Yesterday, Jim, just late Sunday, one of the opposition spokesmen, Nelson Chamisa, he was actually at the airport, arrived, in the departure lounge. Suddenly a pickup full of men jumped out, ran into the airport and literally started beating him up, despite other passengers who were departing trying to stop this malay (ph). Some of these thugs, if you will, with crowbars and other weapons, beat up Mr. Chamisa senseless. Apparently he has a cracked skull, is in intensive care in a hospital in Harare.

Other opposition members prevented from leaving. Apparently the government saying that they are facing some court hearings for apparently inciting violence at last Sunday's prayer meeting. A lot of desperation going on on the ground, Jim. World reaction has been outrage by what's going on in Zimbabwe.

But Mugabe continues his crackdown, Jim. According to some critics -- and we spoke to one of them -- you saw him in the piece, Moeietsi Mbeki, an outspoken critic of President Mugabe, who knew him back in the '70s and '80s, he says this is typical Robert Mugabe. This is what he knows best. He is cornered. He lashes out. And now he wants to annihilate the opposition.


CLANCY: All right, Jeff Koinange there from South Africa, in Johannesburg, talking about the story that is really gripping Africa right now -- what happens next in Zimbabwe?

And we should point out, the government has not allowed Jeff to get into the country to report on the situation firsthand. They've got a lot of restrictions. Have had now for more than a year on journalists.

CHURCH: Yes, that's a critical point to make.

All right, time now for a short break. Stay with us.

CLANCY: When we come back, a double loss for Pakistan in the World Cup of cricket. You're watching CNN.


CHURCH: Welcome back.

Well, it's been a week now since BBC correspondent Alan Johnston was kidnapped in Gaza. There's been no word, but his family is hoping the drama will have a happy ending as so many have before. Ben Wedeman reports.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): A father pleads for his son's release.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, ALAN JOHNSTON'S FATHER: Just let him go. It is not helping the Palestinian people. It's no way to treat a friend of the Palestinian people, which Alan is. Let him go, now, today.

WEDEMAN: The BBC's seasoned Gaza correspondent, Alan Johnston, disappeared last Monday and hasn't been heard from since.

SIMON WILSON, BBC: We would urge everybody with influence here to continue their efforts so that Alan may be reunited with his family and colleagues at the earliest opportunity.

WEDEMAN: Johnston's is the latest in a series of kidnappings which have turned Gaza into a place where many reporters fear to tread.

Last summer, two journalists for the American network Fox were held captive for two weeks. And earlier this year, a Peruvian photographer for the French news agency was held for a week. In September 2004, I was with CNN producer Riad Ali when gunmen pulled him from our taxi and held him for 24 hours. In this and every kidnapping until now, the hostages were released unharmed.

To this day, we really don't know who was behind Riad's kidnapping. At the time, senior Palestinian police and intelligence officials told me they had a pretty good idea who did it, but no one was ever arrested.

Though there are few secrets in cramped and crowded Gaza, in no kidnapping has anyone ever been charged, tried or jailed. To date, motives have been largely material, demands for jobs or cash, which doesn't explain the failed attack last Friday on a car carrying the senior U.N. official who heads a group that for decades has provided food, medical care, and education to Palestinian refugees.

JOHN GING, UNRWA: One million refugees that depend on us need our operation and that's why it's so urgent that security be brought under control.

WEDEMAN: The cost of chaos is high for everyone in Gaza.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Jerusalem.


CLANCY: In a world of sports, a story that first had the fans all sad, but then really mourning a tragedy. Cricket isn't a sport that's particularly popular in the United States. That's certain. But it's popular among hundreds of millions of people around the world.

Born in Britain, it has become the game in the Caribbean and places like Pakistan and India. But this day they mourn the death of this man, Bob Woolmer. The Pakistani national coach died in Jamaica on Sunday. Now this came less than 24 hours after a stunning and heartbreaking loss by his team to Ireland.

Fifty-eight-year-old Woolmer was found unconscious in his hotel room and rushed to the Kingston Hospital. His wife had said he had been under tremendous pressure and even more pressure, of course, after that loss. There was no immediate cause of death released.

World Cup cricket teams will be asked to wear black arm bands during their next matches as a tribute to Woolmer. A true giant in the game and highly respected.

CHURCH: He was, yes, absolutely. And interesting, and he was actually born in India and had English background and leaves a wife and two sons behind.

CLANCY: We're going to leave it there for this hour. I'm Jim Clancy.

CHURCH: And I'm Rosemary Church. And this is CNN.



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