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Iraq's recent provincial elections have injected a strong dose of hope into the lives of Iraqis and led many to believe that their darkest days are behind them.

But a recent spike in violence has cast doubts over Iraq's future and reminded people of their bleak reality.

Political analysts believe 2009 may turn out to be a decisive year and will determine whether Iraq can make a clean break with its recent violent past.

A lot will depend on the political wisdom of people like Barham Saleh, Iraq's deputy prime minister, who is likely to play a crucial role in his country's ongoing saga.

In this one-on-one interview, Saleh offers his views on the political problems confronting Iraq.

This episode of Inside Iraq aired from Friday, February 20, 2009.

Source: Al Jazeera