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After living in fear for months, liquor store owners in Baghdad are proudly displaying everything from Iraqi Asriya Arak to Johnnie Walker Blue Label whisky, a sign that peace and stability may return.So, after collecting these quotes - "We are not that worried now because security has improved", "I think I can operate safely here now. Things have quieted down a bit", "We are making money. We are happy", and "Violence has fallen to its lowest level in more than four years" - what perspective could an enterprising Reuters reporter add to news of falling violence?
Bombings, shootings and hand grenade attacks by suspected Muslim militants forced many alcohol salesmen to shut down but a security crackdown by US and Iraqi forces have made it possible for them to re-open along one of the capital's busiest streets.
"We are not that worried now because security has improved," said Samir Khaled, an employee of a shop that was shaken by a car bomb in December which killed three people in one of the capital's most heavily protected areas. It reopened a month ago.
Violence has fallen to its lowest level in more than four years, according to figures released by the US military at the weekend. Iraqi and US officials say they have al Qaeda in Iraq, blamed for the worst bombings in Baghdad, on the run.
"I think I can operate safely here now. Things have quieted down a bit," he said.
Before fundamentalists came along, alcohol merchants faced the whims of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
After attracting international condemnation for invading Kuwait, he began portraying himself as a pious Muslim to improve his image at home as economic sanctions ravaged Iraq.
In the mid 1990s he banned alcohol sales in hotels, bars and restaurants.
Even though the risks are higher these days, Khaled believes customers will brave the wrath of militants and take their time choosing from the spirits arrayed at his shop.
"We are making money. We are happy," he said.
That [falling violence] may offer an opportunity for enterprising liquor store owners... to generate business in Iraq, where a drink can offer an escape from suicide bombings, shootings and kidnappings.
A major bridge in Baghdad that spans the Tigris River reopened Tuesday with much fanfare, 13 months after terrorists bombed the landmark and killed more than 10 people.Iraq's Minister of Housing and Construction thanked the United States for its offers to help rebuild the bridge...
Standing beneath the al-Sarafiyah Bridge, schoolchildren waved their hands in the air, the bright floral corsages on their wrists punctuating their words, as they sang about their love for Iraq.
They provided entertainment for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and other high level officials at the reopening of one of Baghdad's major bridges.
Only 13 months ago, the scene at this landmark was the opposite of joyful. On April 12, 2007, a suicide truck bomber targeted the bridge, destroying 180 meters of its length, sending cars into the Tigris below and killing more than 10 people.
But Tuesday, the scene was festive.
Mr. Maliki said the idea was not just to open a bridge, but to send a message to an ignorant and sadistic culture that there are forces at work to stop such dark powers.
But she said the ministry refused the much appreciated offers of American assistance. She said it wanted Iraqis to show that they have the power and responsibility to rebuild their country.
To complete the re-opening ceremony, the prime minister and other dignitaries crossed the bridge, as an Iraqi flag hung down from the bridge's center and signs declaring "Reconstruction is Our Duty" decorated its sides.
The snowball is rolling downhill and picking up speed and more snow. I'd hate to be Zawahiri's bubba at the bottom of the hill soon.
Your reporting is first class GreyHawk. But I always knew America could do anything we set our best and brightest minds towards. You know. The ones serving their country in the US military, just like you, Sir.
Thanks, youngster. I appreciate your documentary efforts more than you will ever know.
SubsunkPosted by Subsunk at May 30, 2008 03:56 PM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(1) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)