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Nic Robertson: No real security in Baghdad

CNN's Nic Robertson
CNN's Nic Robertson

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BAGHDAD, Iraq -- It's back-to-school day in Baghdad -- but it hasn't been a resounding success. Schoolchildren staying home is just one of the problems in the Iraqi capital. CNN correspondent Nic Robertson reports.

ROBERTSON: A lot of the schools got ready to reopen in Baghdad but lots of the children are not showing up. The reason for that is many parents are afraid of the current security situation.

Further to that there was a surprise development in the city's security situation for U.S. forces in Baghdad, with the interim police chief Zuhir al-Naimi deciding to resign.

According to U.S. forces it was because he did not want to implement some of the changes he would have had to make, changes that would make the police force a more U.S.-style unit.

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An boy walks in an empty classroom of a school in Baghdad, Iraq, last week.

Naimi says he also did not want to enforce some new gun-safety measures inside the city for his police force.

When he resigned, he handed over several hundred thousand dollars and several kilos of gold that he said had been looted in Baghdad.

He said he was handing it over in good faith so U.S. forces can continue to train the police in Baghdad.

It is perhaps a quite surprising development that such a key person should already have differences with U.S. forces on how to run the city and decide to resign rather than go along with what the U.S. would like to see happen.

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Filling his shoes will be something that is quite urgent for U.S. forces as security in Baghdad is still far from assured.

It is going to pose some conundrums for Jay Garner, the retired U.S. general and Iraq's civilian administrator, as he tries to choose, and let the Iraqis choose, who should lead the different departments. Clearly there is some friction between how the U.S. forces and Iraqis should like them to run.

This will make the choice of people to put in those positions much harder.

If there are many more resignations like this it will send a very negative message to both sides.

On the humanitarian front the World Health Organization, World Food Program, U.N. Development Program and U.N. Children's Fund -- UNICEF all returned to Baghdad Saturday. A spokesman for the group said Iraq is still far from out of the possibility of a crisis.

This team will dedicate the work in the coming days to making a humanitarian assessment of the situation here. They are concerned there could still be a humanitarian disaster.


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