Nuri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, announced his cabinet on May 20, saying security would be the priority for his government.

But some Iraqis are less sure the government will be able to bring Baghdad and the surrounding provinces under its control.

The prime minister's decision to delay the appointment of ministers to head the defence, interior and national security ministries is seen as a weakness.

Blogger Neurotic wife, a woman who works on reconstruction projects and lives in the Green Zone, makes no secret of her anger that the ministries have still not been assigned.

"Where is the darn government? The government is deciding who takes the defence ministry and who takes the interior one… People are getting killed left centre and right all under the eyes of the government!" she wrote on her blog (http://neurotic-iraqi-wife.blogspot.com/) on May 18. 

She believes security and unemployment are the most pressing issues.

Bloggers are divided over
al-Maliki's pledge on security 

"People are getting killed [and] you don't know why. First it was believed that it was sectarian violence, but then it became apparent that people are getting murdered for no apparent reason. Children shot dead... Women shot dead ... elderly shot dead. The unemployed are being paid by militias and gangs to kill people... It really has become a way of living," she told Aljazeera.net.

While she says she has always tried to apply an optimistic approach to her outlook on Iraq, her only hope is that the new government "change their tactics and get rid of all the militias and the so called Bin laden/Zarqawi loyalists then maybe, just maybe, there is light [at the end of] the tunnel".

"A dim one, mind you, but it's the only thing that keeps the Iraqis going," she said.

Bleak present

For Iraqi journalist and blogger Baghdad Treasure (http://baghdadtreasure.blogspot.com/), the light is growing dimmer.

In a May 9 post titled Black, he wrote of the bound corpses which continue to be discovered in Baghdad ditches, along highways and desert roads on a near daily basis.

"Starting from the black funeral banners that decorate almost every street, to the black smoke of explosions that rock the city's morning like fireworks every day and the black shrapnel that pave the roads, black became an everyday scene", he wrote.

Baghdad Treasure says the violence spiralled out of control after the bombing of the Askariya shrine in Samarra, north of Baghdad.

Security, or the lack of it, is
everyone's prime concern

"Militias turned the situation in Iraq into chaos as kidnappings and killings increased since that attack," he told Aljazeera.net.

"The prime minister should assign independent and unbiased people for the post of interior and defence ministries. These two ministries should be given to people of strong and honest personalities. They need to be strong to control the situation in an iron fist," he said.

He also urged the government to immediately address the issue of displaced Sunni and Shia families who fled their neighbourhoods for fear of sectarian violence.

Disbanding the militia

Nadia (http://talkingaboutiraq.blogspot.com/), an Iraqi blogger living in Sweden, believes that Iraqi politicians must first end their squabbles and prove to the populace there is unity in government before taking on the larger security issue.

"Disbanding the militia and promoting unity are all solutions that I want our new government to put into action. If they fail to do this, I believe they will never be able to increase security in Iraq," she said.

Thought Riot (http://thought-riot.blogspot.com/), an 18-year-old woman who has recently started blogging, also believes in-fighting risks derailing security efforts in the country.

"I'm not happy with the new government. It's more sectarian/ethnic than it should be. This is a country that needs to get rebuilt, not a pizza to slice up and eat," she wrote on May 20.

Salam Adil (http://www.asterism.blogspot.com/), an Iraqi blogger living in the UK, also believes the ethnic composition of the new cabinet is a cause for worry.

"The government is weak and the ministries are still handed out as rewards. More of a collection of feudal fiefdoms than a modern government," he told Aljazeera.net.

Crimes against civilians

But Wafaa' Al-Natheema, an Iraqi blogger (http://zennobia.blogspot.com/) living in the US and currently making a film on non-Muslim minorities in the Arab world, goes further, saying the government is itself implicated in some of the acts of terrorism which have plagued the country.

"I'm not happy with the new government. It's more sectarian/ethnic than it should be. This is a country that needs to get rebuilt, not a pizza to slice up and eat"

Iraqi blogger

"It has been involved with terrorism,and, in fact, has escalated terrorism for the mere fact that it has collaborated with Iraq's enemies and occupiers," she told Aljazeera.net

"The crimes against civilians, especially against women, children, the scientists and professionals of Iraq, and the atrocities committed against the people and the environment of the region... all these pressing issues need immediate action," she says.

She also says respect for human rights need to be upheld and enforced by the government.

New beginning
 
Nevertheless, some bloggers say Iraq is on the verge of a new beginning.

Omar (http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/), a dentist in Baghdad, takes a more optimistic approach.

"I do believe we have a good chance to correct our mistakes and build a modern state, and although the new government isn't a perfect creature, it is a positive step forward mainly because it is much widely representative of the population than the previous one," he wrote on May 21.

Omar is encouraged that the new government and prime minister understand security concerns are foremost among Iraqis’ demands.

"This is what people are expecting from him and his colleagues," he told Aljazeera.net.

"In his [al-Maliki] recent speeches he sounded very determined on fighting terrorism and putting an end to the extremely dangerous phenomenon of armed militias.

"In fact, I think that Iraqi army and police alone will not be able to handle this task but with mutual understanding and coordinated plans between the government and the multinational forces, I think the prospects will be quite good."

Tough challenges

Baghdad Treasure believes once the security issue is dealt with, other problems will quickly follow suit.

Salam Adil, 38, is worried about
the government's ethnic mix

He said that providing ample electricity and employment would keep armed Iraqis off the streets and reduce crime.

Omar also believes once law and order is restored, other sectors, such as the ailing oil industry, can be revitalised.

He says the parliament would also be able to revisit articles on human rights and personal freedoms within the new constitution and "work to amend these articles in a way that guarantees the greatest public support possible for this constitution".

For now, Iraqis are hoping and praying the violence will subside and life return to normal.

"I know that things take time, especially in this dire situation," Neurotic Wife told Aljazeera.net.

"So I pray and hope that things will get better, it has to ... there is no other way for Iraq."