Shiite & Sunni Clerics Unite in Baghdad Against Violence

Shiite, Sunni and Sunni Kurd clerics united this week in Baghdad against violence.

Iraqi Sunnis and Shiites attend a conference under the motto ‘Unity of Muslims Expresses Unity of Iraqi People’, in which some 500 scholars took part in Baghdad, Iraq, on Monday, June 4 2007. Sunni and Shiite scholars took the floor calling for the unity and ending violence and blood shed in Iraq.(AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

And, here are a couple of items from Iraq translated by Iraqi-American Haider Ajina that you may have missed in the evening news:

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki orders military to strike with an iron fist whoever attempts to interfere in Iraq’s affairs

Baghdad – Voices of Iraq
Thursday , 07 /06 /2007 Time 12:10:35

Baghdad, Jun 6, (VOI) – The days of coups d’étate have gone with the downfall of the former regime said Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Wednesday, calling on Iraqi military apparatus to strike with an iron fist those who interfere in Iraq’s internal affairs.

“The days of ignorance, marginalization and despotism have gone. There is no place for conspiracy and we will not accept solutions other than those offered by democracy,” said the prime minister, who is also Iraq’s armed forces’ commander-in-chief, addressing the first conference of the commanders of the military divisions.

In a statement released by the prime minister’s media office, al-Maliki ordered Iraqi armed forces to deal firmly with those who interfere in Iraq’s internal affairs and undermine its stability.

“We tell the countries supporting them that the presence of a united Iraq and a federal government where representatives from all segments of the Iraqi people participate is in our interests and theirs,” al-Maliki added with reference to a number of countries whom he accused of supporting efforts to undermine stability in Iraq.

Al-Maliki indicated that signs of victory “are on the horizon,” noting “our will cannot be broken or sapped despite difficult challenges and foreign interference.”

Warning of creeping sectarianism, al-Maliki urged Iraqi armed forces’ commanders to reject division and work under the slogan of a united Iraq.

The conference was attended by Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Iraqi Defense Minister Mohammed Abdul Qader al-Obeidi, Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Babekr Zibari, and top Iraqi military officials.

Haider Ajina comments:

The Iraqi PM Almaliki is making it abundantly clear that terrorist and those who support them and try to undermine the political process in Iraq will be dealt with. It also sends a strong signal to Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia etc. and local political groups who support insurgent groups. Almaliki is able to back up his promise because of our presence and the effectiveness of the Iraqi security forces we have trained. The increase in security and the increase in our and Iraqi forces presence has given many Iraqi neighborhoods the feeling of security. This in turn has given the local residence the confidence to stand up and inform us and the Iraqi security forces about terrorists and criminals in their midst. Local residents feel the risk of retribution from the insurgence is diminished if not disappeared. More of this is evident in the next article.

Kurdish Sunni clerics listen during a conference by Shi’ite and Sunni clerics in Baghdad June 4, 2007. Several hundreds gathered in Baghdad to form a union of Arab Sunni and Shi’ites clerics in a show of solidarity which aims to stop the sectarian violence in the country. (REUTERS/Ceerwan Aziz)

And… Here is news on the prgress in Baghdad that you may have not heard:

Security efforts assist market re-openings, electricity supply
Tuesday, 05 June 2007

BAGHDAD — Iraqi citizens continued to benefit from the improved security measures here Monday.
Since temporary protective barriers have been raised to keep suicide bombers at bay within certain areas of the city, markets around Baghdad have resumed business and returned a sense of normalcy to the Iraqi population in local neighborhoods.

“Shoppers feel much safer [in the Rusafa District] going into the market now and they’ve actually seen an increase in the number of local citizens using that market,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. John Rudolph, assistant chief of staff of civil military operations for Multi-National Division-Baghdad. “It’s a perception or an attitude that the stigma of the random violence has lessened.”

Meanwhile, the Doura Market in Baghdad has also seen a significant difference.

According to Rudolph, Doura Market went from an unorganized street market of only a few dozen vendors to a thriving market place with more than 200 sellers.

Haifa Street was known as a “hot-bed” of extremist activity, but currently, it serves as a thriving market area.

“We’ve turned that around,” said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, the deputy commanding general for support with Multi-National Force-Baghdad. “Now, we have a thriving market area, which is starting to grow, and a revitalization process that will make the Iraqis really proud.”

While Iraqi locals have felt safe enough to venture outside their homes, extremist elements still remain.

“They still remain periodically threatened,” Brookes said. “You have to recognize that people who are performing well, especially in harmony, are often targeted by extremists who don’t want to see good governance ever come from here.”

While markets reopen for business, Iraqi locals are looking forward to other improvements such as electricity.

Intermittent electrical supply was not a new problem for the city’s population. Baghdad never had electricity flowing to the six million residents 24 hours a day. Electricity was a tool used by the Ba’athist regime to reward or punish the population.

“Areas favored by Saddam and his regime saw power longer throughout the day, but they still didn’t get power 24/7,” said Rudolph. “They had to use what they called the ‘generator men,’ who were entrepreneurs who had their own generators and supplied power to local neighborhoods for the ‘off power’ periods.”

More than $44 million, a quarter of civil military operations funds, are dedicated to 62 projects restoring power to Baghdad. However the provision of electrical power to Baghdad neighborhoods remains a function of governance.

According to Brooks, it would be the Iraqi government who will need to illuminate the Iraqi capital.

As electricity remains a top priority on top of economic revitalization, Fardh Al-Qanoon is expected to deliver the window of opportunity needed for Iraqi government officials to return Iraqi life to normalcy.

(Compiled from Multi-National Corps-Iraq news releases )

Haider Ajina comments,

Operation ‘rule of law’ or the surge as we call it is spreading to other areas of Iraq. On a daily basis terrorist, criminals are being arrested or killed in restive areas of Iraq. Sectarian violence is minimal, especially compared to the levels before the beginning of the surge. The surge is showing tremendous progress and increasing the hope of those who are benefiting of it.

Markets in many Baghdad areas are returning to vitality and crowds are coming to shop. The electricity situation is also showing improvement.

Haider Ajina

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