Violence is down 80-90% in Al-Anbar Province.
Anbar Province (the big yellow province in the west) will be turned over to the Iraqi government in the coming weeks. Only 18 months ago the media was reporting that Anbar Province was lost to the insurgents and Al-Qaeda. (Gulf 2000 Map)
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Two years ago, al-Anbar was said to be the most violent province in Iraq. It was a place where the insurgency in Iraq had begun and where the bloodiest battles took place. Today, thanks to the hard work and sacrifices made by the Marines, Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen who served in the area, it has become a model for the rest of Iraq.
Marines of 2nd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, have put in countless hours and have risked their lives every day to ensure their area of operations within al-Anbar Province stays that way until they leave Iraq and beyond.
“In the last year, violence in al-Anbar province has dropped 80-90 percent. The reason the province is the way it is now is a result of the hard work the Marines are putting forth every day along with their tactical patience and balance,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Jim M. Roussell, the assistant intelligence officer for 2nd Battalion, 24th Marines. “This battalion has worked very hard and has done an outstanding job in accomplishing its goals… and what we want to do is set up the unit that comes in after us for success”
With the reduction in violence, the extraction and refining of natural resources such as oil have begun to stabilize; furthering exportation and significantly increasing the country’s gross domestic product.
Iraq’s spending budget in 2007 was $41 billion and has increased to $70 billion for 2008, according to the Special Inspector General’s Quarterly report to the United States Congress.
“That means that, economically, once the violence is under control, this country will be just fine,” said Roussell, who is a lieutenant in the Chicago Police Department when not either drilling or deployed with the reserve battalion.
Although it cannot be said that the violence is under control, May resulted in 19 U.S. deaths, which is the lowest U.S. death toll in Iraq since the invasion five years ago according to Department of Defense reports.
“It just shows that progress is being made, but it’s not easy. It’s hard and time consuming,” Roussell said. “We’re trying to plant this difficult flower in the middle of the desert and it’s just beginning to bud.”
In other news…
Iraqi-American Haider Ajina sends word that– “Several Iraqi parliamentarians from different political blocs agreed that the the 2nd International Compact with Iraq (ICI), held a few days ago in the Swedish capital, were generally positive and supportive, with some describing the summit as a “significant step” towards reform.” InvestorsIraq has more on the compact.
Iraqi soldiers salute the new flag of the Iraqi democracy. (Buratha News)
And, here is more news from Anbar Province translated by Haider Ajina from Buratha News on June 10th.
Heet awakening council renames ‘Martyr Plaza’ and raises new Iraqi flag.
The Heet office of the Iraqi awakening congress changed the name of the ‘Clock Plaza’ to ‘Martyr Plaza’ and raised for the first time the new Iraqi flag in the plaza.
Chairman of the Heet office of the Iraqi awakening congress Tahsien Ali Alrishawi announced, in a press conference, “a decision was made to change the name of the Clock plaza to Martyr Plaza in commemoration and honor those innocent civilians and security forces killed in the suicide bombing at he plaza on May 31st. Amongst those killed was major Khalil Jezaa from the city police”. Alrishawi added, “a commemorative structure will be erected in the same place. The design of the memorial will be determined by a competition amongst residence of Anbar province”.
The plaza also features (for the first time) the raising in the center of the city of the new Iraqi flag approved by the Iraqi parliament earlier this year. Some residences of the city and province were still flying the old Iraqi flag.
Martyr Plaza is located at the main streets intersection of Heets. Streets coming together at this Plaza (or round about) head in five different directions. Most of the government buildings including town hall, court house, quick response unit, criminal investigations, anti-terrorism, census, and the main police station, are all located around this plaza.
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Haider Ajina comments:
This development is a sign of Iraqi national unity and reconciliation. The raising of the new Iraqi flag replacing the old Saddam era flag is most significant. Many residents in Anbar province (Heart of the Sunni triangle and a former haven for Baathists and Alqaida) still flew the old flag in defiance of the mostly Shiite and Sunni Kurd government in Baghdad. This defiance is now waning and many of the residents of these areas are joining in the overwhelming national reconciliation and national unity mood sweeping over Iraq.
UPDATE: IED attacks in Mosul are down by almost half from February compared to May.