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Hope and fear: Journeys in the new Iraq

CNN's Nic Robertson

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• Interactive: Who's who in Iraq
• Interactive: Sectarian divide
Nic Robertson

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- On June 30, 2004, the United States plans to return sovereignty to the Iraqis.

As this critical threshold approaches, CNN's Senior International Correspondent, Nic Robertson, travels through Iraq to find a nation struggling with devastating violence, economic hardship, and religious and ethnic tensions.

In CNN Presents "Hope and Fear: Journeys in the New Iraq," Robertson follows six very different individuals, and hears their hopes and fears for the future of Iraq.

They include a major in the Baghdad police force who faces the risk of assassination every day and a Shia woman who has seen her husband murdered and her house bombed and is torn between loyalty to her homeland and emigrating for the sake of her six children.

He also spends time with a U.S. Army Colonel trying to bring security to one of Iraq's toughest districts with a mixture of aggression and conciliation (Full story); and he meets with a Shia cleric who wants Islam to have a far bolder role in politics and daily life, even if that means eroding the rights of women.

Robertson also travels north to Kurdistan, where a businessman, who until recently lived in exile, is weighing the prospects for investing in Iraq, only too aware that the Kurds have been betrayed before.

The last of the six profiles is of the heir to the Iraqi throne, who wants to mediate between the country's rival groups and bring the insurgents into the political process, but who also fears that civil war may not be far away and accuses the coalition of naiveté and arrogance.

"Once again Robertson has documented the human strife and daily hardships of Iraq in a way that few other journalists can.

"His ability to engage with ordinary Iraqi citizens and military personnel enables CNN's viewers to gain a better understanding of how everyone involved in the future of Iraq is coping with the on-going altercations and state of uncertainty in the country," says Rena Golden, senior vice president of CNN International.

Through the eyes of these characters, Robertson perceives much anger among Iraqis since liberation has given way to occupation.

Many are also apprehensive that persistent violence and the arrival of international terrorism in Iraq will kill any prospect of stability.

Additionally, he finds varied perspectives on democracy and the role of Islam, and grave distrust of American intentions.

And, despite glimpses of hope and remarkable perseverance, he hears widespread anxiety that violence and differing political and cultural opinions in Iraq may swamp its prospect of becoming a nation of prosperity and tolerance in the Middle East.

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