The high-cost Iraq war entered its sixth year on Thursday as US President George W. Bush was defending his decision to launch the invasion.
Grim reality despite high cost
With a cost of roughly 500 billion US dollars and lives of nearly 4,000 US troops as well as tens of thousands of Iraqis, the five-year-old war has left Iraq in shambles.
Statistics of the civilian casualties vary. Iraqbodycount, a website that follows the death toll count, put the number at nearly 90,000, but many other sources say hundreds of thousands have been killed, largely in sectarian or terrorism related violence.
Meanwhile, about 4.2 million Iraqis have fled abroad or have been internally displaced. Amnesty International said in a latest report that after five years of the US-led invasion, Iraq has become one of the most dangerous countries in the world.
The prospect of economy, another concern for Iraqis after security, is bleak. The country's unemployment rate is generally considered to be at 20 percent or much higher.
Hazem Sharif, 26, graduated two years ago from economy and management department of Baghdad University but he has failed till now to find a satisfactory job.
"At the beginning of the war, most of the Iraqi youths were optimistic because they thought after Saddam Hussein's statue had been toppled, a brilliant future was anything but certain for them," Sharif said.
"Nearly five years have passed, but nothing significant has changed and the image of certain future has gradually changed to be uncertain," he added.
Complaining the slow pace of rebuilding the war-torn country, the young man said the reconstruction "seems like a sick joke since even no one brick has been put to rebuild Iraq."