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The Christian Science Monitor with more news you probably already knew because of the intense media focus:
Racket of rebuilding fills Sadr City as gunfire quietsMeanwhile, the London Daily Telegraph reports from Tal Afar, a Sunni town near the Syrian border that was recently the scene of some of the most intense combat in Iraq this year:
BAGHDAD – On the streets of Sadr City where a year ago locals battled US troops, Lt. Col. Jamie Gayton is today a welcome man.
It's not so much that the residents of the sprawling slum, home to more than 1 million mostly poor Shiite Iraqis, have suddenly lost their wariness and suspicions of the American presence. But Colonel Gayton is the man with the money that is being used to slowly bury the open sewers, bring clean water to homes, and illuminate dark streets with new lights.
And because of that, Gayton, a ceaselessly smiling commander of the Army brigade responsible for reconstruction on Baghdad's east side, hears more cheers than jeers as he makes the rounds of completed or progressing projects.
"This is an area that was neglected by the former regime for 30 years, so the people are very grateful for what we are doing," says Gayton. "But at the same time, once they get a taste of some improvement, they can also get a little anxious for more progress or for things to go a little faster."
That description makes Sadr City something of a metaphor for America's reconstruction effort in Iraq. Nearly three years after Saddam Hussein's ouster, and with much of an estimated $21 billion in US reconstruction money spent, improvements are starting to bloom.
Iraqis in former rebel stronghold now cheer American soldiersBut other than that everything's no doubt going straight to hell. Except for those free elections.
Visiting the city, nestled near the Syrian border in the north-west of the country, there is no doubt that something has been achieved.
Unlike in Fallujah, another Sunni Arab insurgent stronghold, the storming of which by US marines was the defining campaign of 2004, there is actually large-scale rebuilding in progress.
While many of the citizens of Fallujah still eke out their existence in the ruins of their former homes, in Tal Afar the streets are full of building sites. New sewers have been dug and the fronts of shops, destroyed in the US assault, were replaced within weeks. Sunni police have been hired and 2,000 goats were even distributed to farmers.
More remarkably, the approach of an American military convoy brings people out to wave and even clap, something not seen since the invasion of spring 2003 that toppled Saddam Hussein.
And Kurdish northern Iraq - but that doesn't count.
Oh, and the the southern provinces are fairly quiet. So other than Tal Afar, Sadr City, the Kurdish north and the Shi'ite south it's all going straight to hell.
And some neighboring Arab countries are trending towards democracy...
A very nice collection of some of those pesky facts that are generally unreported. Thanks very much for gathering this stuff and passing it along.
OWCPosted by Owl Creek Observer at December 20, 2005 10:20 PM
I'm here in Taji, and apart from the fact that it's been quieter since the elections than it was before them, I'll have to admit that everything is here going straight to hell.Posted by David Earney at December 21, 2005 07:40 AM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(2) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)