This was the desperate cry for help by email from a good friend who is an Iraqi TV producer in Baghdad. He's a Sunni and he's scared.

 

And while the debate goes on whether civil war has actually broken out in Iraq, for my friend and millions of Iraqis, life is terribly dangerous.

 

Three years ago the toppling of Saddam was meant to liberate a nation from tyranny.

 

For a while, it looked good.

 

By any standards last year's historic elections were a major triumph.

 

Euphoria

 

But the dismantling of the Iraqi Army in 2003 was a massive mistake and, as militia violence  flared, the initial euphoria of "regime change" soon evaporated.

 

The scars of war litter large areas
of the country

Now, three years on, Iraq's central heartlands are a bloody nightmare.

 

Baghdad's main mortuary says it receives 40 bodies a day.

 

The friend I mentioned tells me the number of actual murders a day is double the official body count. Many corpses are either not found or spirited away for burial without being registered in the grim statistics.

 

Once again the soil of Iraq - or Mesopotamia, as it was once called - is being soaked with the blood of its people.

 

But in the mire of despair you look for hope.

 

It's often forgotten the majority of Iraq is peaceful.

 

Different world 

 

The north of the country - Kurdistan - is a world away from the bloodshed further south.

 

Cities like Arbil and Sulaimaniya are teaming with potential foreign investors.

 

Kurdistan in the north is enjoying
a new found peace

Every day new high rise apartment blocks soar to the skies and new factories are ready to open their doors. In Arbil they're even building a new opera house!

 

Shopping malls are a feature of life in Kurdistan's big cities.

 

It's a different world.

 

And at the other end of Iraq: in Basra and across thousands of square kilometres northwards, despite some violence, life is generally peaceful for millions of mainly Shia people.

 

It's not until you get to the holy cities of Najaf, Karbala and the so called 'Triangle of death' in the mixed Sunni/Shia regions south of Baghdad that the real nightmare returns.

 

Much now rests with Iraq's politicians.

 

Destiny

 

Iraqis are looking for strong
leaders to restore security

Late in 2005 I spent a few days getting to know the prime ministerial candidate, Ibrahim al-Jaafari.

 

On a personal level he is a kind and thoughtful man who loves his country and is concerned enough about his image to actively work on his presentational skills.

 

He's clearly a man with a sense of destiny who wants to succeed.

 

But as a politician he has shown himself to be weak and at the moment that is not what Iraq needs.

 

Many Iraqis will tell you life was better under Saddam. In many senses, they're right.