Busting the Bad Guys East of Baghdad

Iraqi-American Haider Ajina sends the following two articles on the latest good news from Iraq:

East of Baghdad an Iraqi soldier marches through a field in Abu Bali during a sweep for insurgents in clearance missions. (Photo US Army Spc. Ricardo Branch)

This article was taken from MNF-Iraq

Pushing the bad guys out
Thursday, 27 September 2007

East of Ramadi, an Iraqi Policeman marches through a field in Abu Bali during a sweep for insurgents in clearance missions. Photo taken by U.S. Army Spc. Ricardo Branch 1st BCT Public Affairs.BAGHDAD — A year ago the area to the east of Ramadi was a haven for insurgents who attacked the city. These days much has changed in the surrounding rural lands of the east.

The once violent lands of the east are patrolled and guarded by the Abu-Bali Iraqi Police (IP) and Soldiers from Company A, 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment. Their latest mission was a joint operation, which gathered intelligence and pushed insurgents further from the city of Ramadi and its outlying towns.

“Today, we did routine clearance missions east of Ramadi,” said 1st Lt. Cory Sharbo, a platoon leader with Co. A, 3-69 Armor. “Normally we work alongside the IP, but today we’re only here to supervise.”

Sharbo, 25, from Pittsburgh, Pa., said that the area they patrol is much different than what people at home would normally expect when they think of Iraq.

“Everyone always thinks that it’s all desert,” Sharbo said. “Lots of the Soldiers look at this area we’re in with an almost Vietnam-style terrain with canals, tall grass and sweltering heat.”

During the operation, IPs scoured the surrounding countryside of Abu Waitha and began walking through neighborhoods greeting locals and asking if they needed any assistance. While they were meeting the locals, the IPs asked about terrorist activity in the area.

Sharbo said the mission was important because it served as a show of force for the IPs.

“Since we came into this area, the IP have shown lots of improvement,” he said. “They are more organized, able to do handle the different tasks required of a policeman and now handle detainees real well – they are running the show here…”

“The mission today helped a lot to cement the local support for the police and Coalition force efforts here,” Sharbo said. “The insurgents closed off all the business here and people were prisoners in their own homes. Now people can come and go as they please.”

For the Soldiers working in Abu Bali, serving with the Iraqi Security Forces and seeing the effects of their combined efforts on the people is a good feeling.

“Most of the success here is from the Iraqi Police,” said Spc. Dustin Dunckel, an infantryman with Co. A, 3-69 Armor. “They are from this area, and know the people and the land. By us building up a strong police force here, we’ve established a confidence among the IPs and the people.”

The missions the troops conduct with the Iraqi Security Forces are a far cry from the combat the troops experienced less than six months ago.

“When we first got here there were lots of improvised explosive devices, sniper and mortar fire here,” said the 26-year-old, Lansing, Mich., native. Dunckel added, “Working with the Iraqi Security Forces and patrolling the area has made this place safer now. The groups here are proud and stern Iraqis who I can trust to do their job well.”
(Story by U.S. Army Spc. Ricardo Branch, 1st BCT Public Affairs)

And, here is another story from the Iraqi News:

Life returns to normal in al-Mutanabbi St. after curfew lifted

Baghdad, Sept 23, ( Voices of Iraq) – Many Iraqi intellectuals and writers rejoiced at the Iraqi government’s decision lifting a long-imposed curfew on Baghdad’s al-Mutanabbi Street on Friday afternoons that aimed at putting an end to attacks against worshippers.

Al-Mutanabbi Street, named after one of the greatest Arab poets, was once the center of Baghdad’s intellectual and literary life. In March 2007, a car bomb was detonated in the poet’s street, killing 30 book merchants, buyers, and publishers, and wounding dozens others. The blast also destroyed many buildings and bookstores, including al-Maktabah al-Asriyya [The modern bookstore], the oldest of its kind in al-Mutannabi, in addition to al-Shabandar Café, considered by many as one of Baghdad’s most famous landmarks.

In an interview with the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI), Fadil Thamir, the head of Iraqi Writers’ Union, said, “The lifting of the curfew will help restore the cultural life to the street.”

The curfew put an end to all cultural activities and gatherings in al-Mutanabbi and prevented scores of Iraqi intellectuals from practicing their Friday morning habit of buying books from the street.

“The terrorist attack that ripped through the street a few months ago targeted the Iraqi mind and a great cultural symbol (the street),” Thamir indicated.

Suheil Najm, a translator and writer, said that Iraqi culture will flourish despite all security, social, and political complications. “The existence of al-Mutanabbi is an indication of Iraqi cultural cohesion.”

Meanwhile, Nasir Falih, an Iraqi poet, said that the lifting of the curfew that had been imposed on Friday afternoons demonstrates a remarkable improvement in the security situation in the capital.

“This means life has returned to normal in the street,” he noted.

Describing the street as “one of the main victims of the new situation in Iraq,” Ali al-Fawwaz, an Iraqi poet and critic, said that the street’s literary cafes have turned into a political battlefield, given its location in the hot spot stretching from al-Bab al-Muazzam neighborhood, al-Fadl, Bab al-Sheikh to al-Maydan.

“Restoring cultural life to al-Mutanabbi means restoring life to all of Baghdad’s streets and alleys,” al-Fawwaz concluded.

Haider Ajina comments:

Targeting Baghdad’s intellectual and literary center by the terrorists was aimed to break the spirit of the thinkers, poets and writers of Baghdad. The attacks tried to once again stifle intellectual freedom as the Baathists did. This has obviously not succeeded since the continued improving security in Baghdad is reviving al-Mutanabbi Street- Thanks to what we call the Surge or “Operation Rule of Law”.

The news from MNF-Iraq brings to light the improvement and success we are now having in training the Iraqi police IP. The Iraqi Army IA has been proving itself thanks to our training and back up and now the IP will have its turn to provide security. With the Iraqi Army taking over more and more responsibility we are able to focus more efforts on developing and training the IP.

I have noticed that very little coverage was given to the speech the Iraqi Prime Minister Noori Almaliki gave at the UN. In fact The Iranian President had more coverage.

The Iraqi PM started his speech by Saying (my translation), “I am honored to speak to you as the First head of a Constitutional Government Representative of a free Iraq and its people, who’s obligation is to advance democracy, peace, freedom and cooperation with the International community.”

What a great introduction and our Media reported little of it. How many heads of government in the Arab world can claim this same honor?

Why can the Iraqi PM claim this? Thanks to or men and women in Iraq tireless efforts, that is why.

Regards,
Haider Ajina

Related… Bill Roggio reports on Al Qaeda’s last bastion in Baghdad.

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