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A big day for Iraq

Leonardo Rocha | 20:00 UK time, Monday, 10 September 2007

We're off air now, but you can listen again here.

Today may mark the beginning of the end of the US-led operation in Iraq.

General David Petraeus, the US military commander in Iraq, will address the Congress this afternoon in Washington for a much anticipated assessment of the surge.

Not much has leaked from what he's going to say. But it's expected that General Petraeus will ask for more time for the surge to work, offering a token withdrawal of 4,000 troops or so in the beginning of next year.

We'll rise to the occasion, with a three-hour special (from 1700 to 2000 BST), joining forces with two other World Service programmes -- Europe Today and World Briefing.

It won't be the usual World Have Your Say, there will be a lot of reporting from the ground -- in the US and in Iraq.

But, more than ever, plenty of room for a global conversation on the surge.

Has the deployment of extra 30,000 troops earlier in the year worked? Are you in Iraq? Are you an Iraqi living abroad? Post your comments here and join the debate. Should the US pull out the troops.

Most people heard in a poll commissioned by the BBC, ABC News and NHK think the surge has made conditions worse in and around Baghdad.

Another poll, from the BBC World Service, says the majority of Iraqis wants the US-led troops to pull out immediately or within a year.

General Petraeus has sent a letter to all US forces at the weekend.

He admits the surge "has not worked out as we hoped". But says the US has made significant gains in recent months.

The number of attacks across the country has declined in eight of the past 11 weeks, reaching during the last week in August a level not seen since June 2006.

General David Petraeus

He and the US ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, will be testifying before the Congress today and tomorrow.

Once the testimony is finished, President Bush will deliver his report to the Congress and speak to the nation, probably on Thursday.

What particularly interests me is how the violence and the presence of foreign troops is affecting the daily lives of people in Iraq.

An article in The Independent opens a window to the absurdity of life in Baghdad these days: a city increasingly segregated, where a red mark on the wall means you have to leave your house or pay with your life.

The Iraqi capital seems to be less violent than it used to be, thanks in part to the presence of extra troops.

But for many Iraqis, the article says, the Americans have turned their land into a prison.

Is that the right assessment? Is that how you feel? Has the surge worked?

Send us your comments, post here on the blog.

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