Good News From Najaf, Fallujah and Basra

A demonstrator waves an Iraqi flag during a protest in Baghdad October 6, 2007. Members of the Iraqi Democratic Nation Party held a rally in Baghdad on Saturday protesting against the federal system in Iraq which was proposed by the U.S. Senate. (REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani)

Iraqi American Haider Ajina sends this good news from Najaf and Fallujah today from the Iraqi media. The following is a translation of an article from Buratha News on 10/4/07:

Success for security operation in Nejaf during commemoration of the death of Imam Ali PBH

The streets of Nejaf city were flooded with almost two million visitors from all over Iraq and neighboring countries. They came to commemorate the death of Imam Ali Son of Abi Talib PBH (Son in law of the prophet Mohamed & founder of the Shiite branch) amidst strong security measures. Ahmed Duaail spokesman for the province said, the security operation was implemented successfully with no incidences and the public service side of the plan was also implemented successfully.

Brigadier Uthman Alghanum commander of the eight Iraqi Army Brigade and director of Military operations in Nejaf province said, ‘security forces dealt eagerly with all intelligence at their disposal to close all avenues which can be used by terrorist and criminals. Visitors praised the security and public services available during the length of their stay and on the roads leading to Nejaf from other provinces. Roads leading to Nejaf had many rest stations which provided places to rest and served Iftar (evening breaking fast meal during Ramadan) as well as medical attention to those who needed it.

The following is article from Voices of Iraq from Oct 2nd 2007:


Restless Falluja: a peaceful city in Ramadan

Anbar, Sept 30, (VOI) – Unlike its long history of bloody incidents and armed clashes, Anbar’s Falluja city is living a renaissance of peace and hope this Ramadan with a drastic decrease in incidents of violence encouraging local residents to live their lives as fully as possible.

Unlike previous years, the city’s mosques are crowded with worshippers invoking God to relieve their distress and restore stability to their war-torn country.

Sheikh Khaled Ahmed Saleh, an imam at al-Badawi mosque in central Falluja, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI), “We thank God that peace reigns over the city during this month. We were unable to perform Taraweeh prayers (evening prayers during Ramadan) in mosques over the past few years. But now we pray, go to the markets, and visit our relatives.”

Sunni Falluja is distinguished among other Iraqi cities by its numerous minarets and its shish kebab. It is for this reason that the 53-year-old Hajj Abboud al-Sudra calls it “the city of minarets and kebab.”

“A religious spirit is uppermost at such times in the city, which is known for its many mosques and high and shining minarets,” Sheikh al-Sudra said.

Among the most common activities held at mosques during the holy month are religious and cultural competitions. Following the Taraweeh prayers, competitions for Quran memorization and recitations are held at the Grand Falluja mosque.

An official from the Religious Endowments Department in the city told VOI said that two young men and a woman were the winners in the competition. “The awards were 5 million Iraqi dinars (4,048 U.S. dollars) for the first prize, 3 million dinars ($2,429) for the second and 2 million dinars ($1,619) for the third,” he indicated.

A few hours after the Iftar (the fast-breaking meal), residents of Falluja flow into markets and cafes, which remain open until a late hour in the evening.

Commenting on the growth in trade activities in the city, Yahia al-Badrani, an owner of Falluja Food Markets said that unlike previous years since the foreign invasion in 2003 there is an increasing demand for food products this Ramadan. Linking this to the stable security situation in the city, al-Badrani said that his market close at 11:00 p.m. to meet consumers’ demands.

Playing a prominent role in promoting the spirit of tolerance and reconciliation between those in dispute, religious clerics in the city make every effort to resolve quarrels and conflicts and restore peaceable relations

Haider Ajina comments:

The increase in security and gradual return to normal life was confirmed with a phone call from my dad in Baghdad last week. He said security in Baghdad in the many areas he goes to is substantially better and almost normal. Shops are open till late in the night for Ramadan, people are out on the streets, water is back and power is on for over 8 hours per day rather than 8 per week. The provinces have been getting 12-20 hours of electricity per day for some time now. The tremendous increase in the buying power of Iraqis since we liberated Iraq from the ternary of the Baathists has increased many fold. Many Iraqis have more appliance more cars etc.. In fact the number of cars owned and driven by Iraqis has more than quadrupled in the last 3-4 years. Imagine what this is doing to the demand for electricity and gas etc…

The Iraqi industry ministry has distributes loans to over 1600 factories in 38 areas in and around Baghdad creating over 17 thousand job opportunities. Phase two of this project is in Basra province with other provinces to follow. By the way the Iraqi parliament and the Iraqi ministerial chamber (executive branch) have both strongly rejected the non binding resolution issued by our congress to divide Iraq into three countries. This has been one of the few issues on which the Iraqi parliament has been unanimous. The hard work and incredible efforts of our men and women, especially in Anbar (and now spreading to Musul) province, is creating strong stability and enhancing reconciliation efforts in Iraqi.

Haider Ajina

There has been a tangible improvement in the security climate since British troops vacated their outpost in Basra. (Telegraph)

Bill Moore from the UK forwarded the latest good news from southern Iraq published in The Telegraph

The Tide is Turning in Basra

For after four painful years of missed opportunities and sacrifice, there are encouraging signs that progress is being made in helping the Iraqi people rebuild their country after decades of misrule.

The military surge undertaken by the Americans has seen a significant reduction in Baghdad and the surrounding provinces. Although accurate figures are hard to come by, coalition claims that the murder rate in Baghdad has halved since the surge began in June are being given credence by even
the most critical aid agencies.

The American military’s success in tackling the more militant insurgent groups has led to many Sunni tribal elders, who had given their tacit support to the insurgency, opting to cooperate with coalition forces in restoring security and political stability…

This significant change in Iraq’s political and security climate is also manifesting itself in the south, where the British military has had responsibility for administering four provinces since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s regime in the spring of 2003.

In the past few weeks there has been a tangible improvement in the security there, particularly since British troops vacated their last outpost in Basra’s city centre at the end of August. Crime in Basra is down 70 per cent, and rocket and mortar attacks against British forces – which were running at more than 90 a day in the summer – have been reduced almost to zero – as Mr Brown experienced for himself this week…

The collapse of the government’s infrastructure and security apparatus meant that this was always going to be a long haul. But, bit by bit, the building blocks have been put in place, starting with the new constitution, which was confirmed by a national referendum in late 2005, and followed by the election of the first democratic government in Iraq’s history.

…One of their biggest tests came in the summer when the pro-coalition governors of Muthanna and Qadasiyah provinces were assassinated. “We half expected the Iraqi provincial authorities to contact us and ask for assistance,” a senior British officer told me. “But in fact the Iraqis made it clear they did not want any assistance. They were adamant that they wanted to sort things out themselves. It was a very encouraging sign.”

In fact, the desire of Iraqis to conduct their own affairs has caused British commanders to undertake a radical re-evaluation of how they go about providing support.

Another crucial consideration was whether the Iraqi security forces were capable of filling the security void. And if the evidence of the past five weeks is anything to go by, the signs are encouraging. The effectiveness of the Iraqi security forces is such that, as Mr Brown intimated during his lightning visit, Basra should be handed over to full Iraqi control by the end of next month.

Counterterrorism Blog has more on the disastrous Sunni insurgency in Iraq.

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