April 20, 2010 / 11:19 AM / 10 years ago

Iraqis say Qaeda deaths will not improve their lives

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqis welcomed Tuesday the killing of al Qaeda’s top local leaders but said they were more concerned about the power cuts, lack of jobs and corruption that blight their daily lives.

An undated file photo released by the U.S. military shows Iraq's al Qaeda leader Abu Ayyub al-Masri. Al-Masri, also known as Abu Hamza al-Muhajir. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on April 19, 2010 that an Iraqi intelligence team had found and killed al Qaeda's leader in Iraq, Abu Ayyub al-Masri. REUTERS/U.S. Army/Handout

“I care more for public services than I care about these deaths,” government employee, Masri al-Dorra said.

“Killing them is like killing any other criminal to me. There are people who are worse than them in government offices who are working to spread corruption. This is another type of terror.”

Al Qaeda’s Iraq leader, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, and Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the purported head of its local affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq, were killed Sunday in a raid in a rural area northwest of Baghdad by Iraqi and U.S. forces.

U.S. officials said the deaths could be a major setback to the stubborn insurgency at a time when Iraq is emerging from the sectarian slaughter unleashed after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion but still struggling to end suicide bombings and other attacks.

Iraqis frequently greet claims by the Shi’ite-led government of military triumphs against or arrests of Sunni Islamist insurgents with skepticism because they are often proven wrong. But U.S. officials said they believed this was a major success.

Ordinary Iraqis, who suffer daily blackouts, struggle with a corrupt government bureaucracy, have few job opportunities outside the public sector and still live behind towering blast walls, said they hoped the streets would become a little safer.

“Of course, killing them doesn’t mean an end to terror, but this represents a big blow to them,” said Haider Mohammad, a government employee.

“Killing those people didn’t touch my life much. I live the same miserable life. Will their killing give me a better salary? Will it give me a house to live in? Will it decrease traffic?”

The deaths could be a significant boost to Shi’ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, however, as he tries to ensure his nomination as leader of the next coalition government following a March 7 general election that produced no outright winner.

“This will give the security forces a boost and will bolster confidence and derail terror. There will be a period of better security in general and people will feel psychologically safer,” said Hameed Kamal, a worker at a construction company.

“I think the killing of those terrorists will benefit Maliki and lift his chances of forming a government.”

Writing by Michael Christie; Editing by Lin Noueihed

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