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Iraqis search for postwar jobs and security

As deadly danger fades, Iraqis are trying to rebuild their everyday lives.

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Suspended in limbo between a frightful past and an uncertain future, many Iraqis are growing more fretful with each passing day at the absence of a clear authority that might restore normal life.

For most citizens, the risk to life and limb has passed, now that the war and the mass looting that ensued are over. Now they are turning to more mundane, but deeply problematic concerns, such as where they will earn a living, and how they will educate their children. Running out of money and stored food rations, they have nowhere to turn for answers to such questions.

Starved of information in a country with no newspapers or trusted radio stations, they pluck at straws.

Crowds in search of work

Ali Kamal, a teacher, spent Sunday morning in a milling crowd of men at the Alwiyah Club in downtown Baghdad, filling out a job application he had bought on the street outside for 12 cents, a trivial sum for most Iraqis.

He had heard on the grapevine that the self-styled "Office for the Reconstruction of Baghdad," which has set up shop in the club, was lining people up with jobs. So he handed his form to a man by a sign that read "Education Committee," and was told to come back in a few days.

"Nobody is in charge here, or at least we don't know who is," says Mr. Kamal. "But there must be some hope."

He did not know that the provisional US authorities have refused to recognize the "office" on which he had pinned his hopes. Indeed, US troops went a step further Sunday and arrested its leader and seven other men, saying former exile Mohammed Zubeidi was "exercising authority which was not his," according to US military spokesman Capt. David Connolly.

Nor did Kamal know that the US Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA), which is supposed to be running Iraq, is still several days away from making initial contact with officials from the government ministries that might assign jobs, according to Maj. Gen. Carl Strock, a top aide to ORHA chief Jay Garner.

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