Three hundred miles south of Baghdad, the oil-saturated city of Basra has been transformed by its own surge, now seven weeks old.
In a rare success [ed. puhlease, nothing rare about it. plenty of successful stories going on starting with The Surge], forces loyal to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki have largely quieted the city, to the initial surprise and growing delight of many inhabitants who only a month ago shuddered under deadly clashes between Iraqi troops and Shiite militias.~~~
“The circle of fear is broken,” said Shaker, owner of a floating restaurant on Basra’s famed Corniche promenade, who, although optimistic, was still afraid to give his full name, as were many of those interviewed.
Hopes for a similar outcome in Baghdad’s Sadr City district were undercut when an Iraqi armored unit was struck by three roadside bombs on Sunday, one day after a cease-fire there was negotiated. [ed. one bomb equals the undercutting of progress? give me a break]
The principal factor for improvement that people in Basra cite is the deployment of 33,000 members of the Iraqi security forces after the March 24 start of operations, which allowed the government to blanket the city with checkpoints on every major intersection and highway.
Borrowing tactics from the troop increase in Baghdad, the Iraqi forces raided militia strongholds and arrested hundreds of suspects. They also seized weapons including mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and sophisticated roadside bombs that officials say were used by Iranian-backed groups responsible for much of the violence.
Government forces have now taken over Islamic militants’ headquarters and halted the death squads and “vice ‘enforcers’ ” who attacked women, Christians, musicians, alcohol sellers and anyone suspected of collaborating with Westerners.~~~
At the College of Fine Arts, female students said they felt more, but not entirely, free to wear the clothes they liked.
“I used to be challenged for what I wear,” said Athari, a 19-year-old student wearing heavy makeup and a bright orange headscarf pushed high back on her head in the liberal fashion disapproved of by Islamic radicals. “Makeup was forbidden; short skirts were forbidden. I will not mention their name, but they were extremists. They are still here, but quieter now.”
Qais, a music student, spoke of his relief at no longer having to hide his violin in a sack of rice in his trunk.
Most of the students were Shiite, but one youth named Alaa said that he was a Sunni and that 95 percent of his relatives had fled Basra after sectarian killings, including that of his uncle. “I want to thank Mr. Nuri al-Maliki, because he cleaned Basra of murderers, hijackers and thieves,” Alaa said.
It was not an uncommon sentiment. In his city center office, Yahya, a wealthy businessman said he had just begun going onto the streets without his customary 10 bodyguards. Insisting that he was not a political supporter of the prime minister, he said he was nevertheless so grateful for the security improvements that he and colleagues had downloaded Mr. Maliki’s face onto their mobile telephones as screensavers.
This report comes the same day that Sadr signed over control of the Sadr city to the Iraqi government and they acknowledge that the elected government of Iraq is the sole legitimate authority in Sadr City and everywhere else in Iraq:
“We have signed the agreement today,” said Khalid al-Attiyah, the deputy parliamentary speaker from the main Shiite political bloc, United Iraqi Alliance.
Al-Attiyah said the cease-fire went into effect on Sunday and Iraqi forces will be allowed to enter the area as early as Wednesday and “take over the security there.”
The statement said “the government will decide on the number of Iraqi forces to be deployed in Sadr City to achieve security, in order to refrain from asking help from foreign forces,” a reference to the U.S. military.
“Any attack against residential areas, government offices and the Green Zone are prohibited from Sadr City or from another area,” the agreement said.
The cease-fire stipulates that Iraqi forces have the right to “impose the law and to pursue illegal situations.”
The MSM has been silent on the ongoing success in Basra and Baghdad, not surprisingly, but give some credit to the Times. They can no longer ignore how successful the operation has been even tho report had the glass half empty type feel to it they still acknowledged it. Amazing. No credit goes to Time tho since they obviously have their partisan blinders on with this piece in which they claim Sadr won this round. Um….yeah.
While its true that Iran has their claws into Sadr’s back, even WITH their backing he lost. He has been reduced to an insignificant force inside Iraq, which Iran must see, and are not happy about:
Iran’s hard-line newspapers on Monday called on Iraqis to oppose a strategic framework agreement that is being negotiated between Iraq and the United States and accused Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of caving in to American demands over the pact.
The Jomhuri-e-Eslami daily said in a front-page editorial that the agreement is a “capitulation the U.S. has imposed on the oppressed Iraqi people,” and urged Iraqis to turn to “a popular revolution” that would bring about the “expulsion of the occupiers” from Iraq.
The papers’ blistering criticism of al-Maliki is the first such public condemnation from Iran, which hosted Maliki during the reign of former dictator Saddam Hussein.
I’m thinking the Iranians are a bit worried about the developments aye?