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April 18, 2008

AP: Basra's "Dark Ages" Lifting as Hard-Line [Sadrist Gangster] Grip Weakens

Except for the bracketed addition, that's the headine actually running on Yahoo.

CD shops sell love songs again. Some women emerge from their homes without veils, and alcohol sellers are coming out of hiding in the southern city of Basra — where religious vigilantes have long enforced strict Islamic codes.

The changes in recent weeks mark a surprising show of government sway — at least for now — after an Iraqi-led military crackdown that was plagued by desertions, ragged planning and ended in a virtual stalemate with Shiite militias in Iraq's second-largest city.

...

Two Associated Press employees in Basra interviewed several shopkeepers and other residents on the lifting of some lifestyle restrictions imposed by Shiite hard-liners. The AP also toured four districts around the city to observe the recent changes.

For years, militiamen and vigilantes have had nearly a free hand in Basra. They intimidated, attacked and sometimes killed residents who broke the strict social rules in the city — once known for its liberal lifestyles and nightlife.

...

Since the truce, government forces have continued raids and arrests, but in a more low key way. More than 400 militiamen and criminals have been arrested since the sweep began, the Interior Ministry said.

...

Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf told the AP the crackdown will continue till "Basra is back to its glorious joyful days."

The people in Basra "will forget the dark ages they lived during the past years. Basra will not be a sad city anymore," Khalaf said, speaking from the city.

Sounds like progress to me.

Thanks to Dave Price from Dean Esmay's site.


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posted by Ace at 04:24 PM

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