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Less than a month ago this tribute to surrender was the best reporting the New York Times could get from Basra:
Firsthand Look at Basra Shows Value of White FlagThough only a few weeks have passed, now you can read first hand reports from Basra by Deborah Haynes in the London Times:
Calling on my experience as a captain in the Iraqi Army before the 2003 invasion and essentially a war correspondent since then, I headed to Basra to see if I could make my way into the city and see what was happening there.
Gun battles broke out unpredictably, so I ran or walked when it was quiet, then dropped down and sought cover when I could hear shooting. After 45 minutes or so, I came upon the Rumaila Hotel in a central neighborhood called Ashar. Amazingly, it was open, with six or seven guests inside and a couple of employees. I was so exhausted I didn't think twice, just checked in.
The next day I moved around as much as I could. The common observation was this: There was nowhere the Mahdi either did not control or could not strike at will.
On Saturday I was talking with a colleague on my cellphone when a gun battle started right outside the hotel. It was so loud I couldn't hear the voice on the other end of the line anymore. I dived into a corner of my room and waited for it to end.
A while after the shooting stopped, some other residents of the hotel and I went outside. The street was littered with the shells of heavy machine guns where the Mahdi Army had fired toward another hotel, the Meerbad, where Ministry of Interior officials were staying, perhaps 50 yards away. We could see their pickup trucks, now full of bullet holes, in the parking lot of the hotel.
I decided to leave Basra. I took the white flag with me.
Young women are daring to wear jeans, soldiers listen to pop music on their mobile phones and bands are performing at wedding parties again.Or you can just look at the pictures.
All across Iraq’s second city life is improving, a month after Iraqi troops began a surprise crackdown on the black-clad gangs who were allowed to flourish under the British military. The gunmen’s reign had enforced a strict set of religious codes.
Driving through Basra in a convoy with the Iraqi general leading the Charge of the Knights operation, The Times passed Iraqi security forces manning checkpoints and patrolling the roads. Not a hostile shot was fired as the convoy turned into what was until the weekend the most notorious neighbourhood in the city. Hayaniya, a teeming slum, was a bastion for al-Mahdi Army, the main militia.
For the first time in four years local residents have been emboldened to stand up to the militants and are turning in caches of weapons. Army checkpoints have been erected across Basra and traffic police are also out in force.
The security forces have also torn down many banners supporting al-Mahdi Army as well as portraits of its leader, Moqtada al-Sadr, though some still remain in militia strongholds.
Thanks for this. I think the TimesOnLine is a pretty fair paper. As is the Telegraph. Thought it was funny how the commenters were calling the reporter "a cutie".Posted by Maggie45 at April 27, 2008 11:27 PM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(1) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)