Friday, August 31, 2007

Friday's good news from Iraq

Big improvements on Haifa Street in Baghdad, once a hotbed of terrorism. Quote: ""IF you saw any news clips of intense combat last January, you were probably watching the fighting unfolding on Baghdad's Haifa Street: 10 days of grim sectarian violence. Until we put a stop to it...Six months ago, terror ruled. The streets were empty of civilians. Shops were shuttered, facades were shot up, and hate graffiti covered the intact walls. Power was out, and the district was out of hope. The residents who could leave had already left. It would've been easy to write off Haifa Street. Instead, 1-14 Cav and their foster parent, the 2nd brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, switched gears. First, they won the fight. Next, they were determined to win the peace. AND the numbers in "AO Warhorse," their area of operations, reveal an impressive transition from a hellhole to a livable - if still understandably nervous - neighborhood: From 74 attacks on our troops in January, the violence dropped to 20 attempts in August. And they were minor attacks, compared to those of the past. Overall, murder rates in Baghdad are down by two-thirds, while attacks on the Iraqi police and civilians have declined for months. In fact, 2nd Brigade is now "out of the checkpoint business," according to its commander, Col. Bryan Roberts. With the Iraqi police doing its job, Roberts can muster as many as 34 combat patrols a day - the presence we always needed and didn't have."

Peace has also returned to Ramadi, a place in the Sunni triangle, again formerly a hotbed of insurgent anti-U.S. sentiment. But now a major police station, with the vigorous approval of the locals, is named after a U.S. marine. In east Baghdad, meanwhile, there's been another successful raid against terrorist insurgents by coalition forces. And in the Tigris River Valley.

Meanwhile, in Iskandariyah, over 500 citizens have joined a Concerned Citizens Program, which is helping to root out terrorist insurgents.

American commander in Iraq David Petraeus, in an interview with an Australian newspaper, hints at what he will tell the congress in September--that there has been major improvement in Iraq. Quote: "General Petraeus told The Australian during a face-to-face interview at his Baghdad headquarters there had been a 75 per cent reduction in religious and ethnic killings since last year, a doubling in the seizure of insurgents' weapons caches between January and August, a rise in the number of al-Qa'ida "kills and captures" and a fall in the number of coalition deaths from roadside bombings. "We say we have achieved progress, and we are obviously going to do everything we can to build on that progress and we believe al-Qa'ida is off balance at the very least," he said."