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November 18, 2007

Who Are You Going To Believe, Harry Reid or Iraqis

How much better must things be getting in Iraq that even AFP is running a story on how normal life is in parts of Baghdad?

"Even two or three months ago we would have been afraid to come here at night," said 20-year-old Hussein Salah, an off-duty soldier, slurping a milkshake with his wife, Shihad, at the Mishmesha (apricot) juice bar in Baghdad's relatively safe Karrada suburb.

"Now we sometimes sit outside here till one or two in the morning. It is quite safe. The security situation is vastly improved," said Salah, the orange light from a nearby flashing palm alternatively brightening and dimming his clean-shaven face.

Declines in Iraqi civilian casualties and a sharp reduction in bomb and mortar attacks have sparked optimism that the capital is at last starting to revive.

US military commanders attribute the fall in violence to a "surge" of American troops on the ground, their decision to set up small military posts in neighbourhoods, and the increasing number of Iraqis joining US forces in anti-insurgent alliances.

Residents interviewed by AFP on the streets of Karrada were adamant, however, that the Iraqi government and the Iraqi army are entirely responsible for reining in sectarian bloodletting unleashed by the bombing of a Shiite shrine in Samarra in February 2006.

"We have the Iraqi government to thank for the peace in our neighbourhood," said fishmonger Muqdad Mohammed, 38, smoking "mazguf" (carp) -- a Baghdad delicacy -- netted in the Tigris river on an open fire at a street corner.

"Things are normal here" now

While it might be a little annoying that the story doesn’t really give credit to the surge, ultimately it’s better that the Iraqi’s take ownership for their country. That is the goal at the end of the day. Why, some might even call that ‘political progress’.

Of course, there are always reminders that things are delicate in Iraq and the enemy is a vicious and cowardly bunch.

A suicide bomber detonated his explosives as American soldiers were handing out toys to children northeast of Baghdad on Sunday, killing at least three children and three of the troopers, U.S. and Iraqi authorities said.

Still, things are undeniably improving in Iraq. Well, undeniable unless you are a Democrat and you’ve placed your bets with the terrorists.


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posted by DrewM. at 08:04 PM

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