Wednesday, June 06, 2007

More good news from iraq

Surge Creates Model Neighborhood in Former Baghdad Hot-Spot. Outdoor markets thriving, tradesmen go back to work. 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs Multi-National Division – Baghdad CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq, June 5, 2007 — Improved security in some areas of Baghdad has allowed life to flourish for some residents. Temporary barriers erected throughout the city have created what military officials call “safe markets” and “safe neighborhoods.” “Now we have a thriving market area that is starting to grow and a revitalization process that will make the Iraqis really proud and recognize that things have improved.” U.S. Brig. Gen. Vincent K. Brooks . Lt. Col. John Rudolph, the assistant chief of staff of civil military operations for Multi-National Division – Baghdad, said the market areas have benefited from the temporary barriers, keeping suicide car bombers at bay while allowing commerce to continue. The marketplace in the Rusafa District in what is known as “Old Baghdad” on the east side of the Tigris River is one of those success stories. “Shoppers feel much safer going into the market now and they’ve actually seen an increase in the number of local citizens using that market,” Rudolph said. “It’s a perception, an attitude that the stigma of the random violence has lessened.” The Doura Market is often a stop for visiting dignitaries to Baghdad in the southern Rashid District. The 1st Cavalry Division’s 2nd “Black Jack” Brigade Combat Team from Fort Hood, Texas, conducted the initial assessment of the area and started the revitalization project there. Doura Market, Rudolph said, went from an unorganized street market of only a few dozen vendors to a thriving market place with more than 200 sellers now. He said the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division from Fort Riley, Kan., now operates in Rashid, and even more improvements are under way. “4-1st Infantry is following up in their footsteps with a barrier plan just like Rusafa,” Rudolph said. “The shoppers there feel much safer in that environment. They’ve got solar-powered lights to provide security in the area. They have host-nation security forces doing random patrols of the area, and because of these security measures more shops have opened up.”Haifa Street in the city’s center, west of the Tigris River, was once a hot-bed of extremist activity. It was a battle ground for the 1st Cavalry Division when they operated in Baghdad in 2004-05, and again earlier this year. The battle ground is now a model neighborhood. "We’ve turned that around,” Brig. Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, the deputy commanding general for support with MND-B, said. “Now we have a thriving market area that is starting to grow . An Iraqi man creates table legs on a lathe in his workshop near Baghdad’s Haifa Street, May 15. The former hotspot has returned to a peaceful state. An Iraqi vender works on setting up the displays of fresh fruit on Haifa Street in central Baghdad, May 15. The area had been a hot-bed of violence and extremist activity, but is now returning to a peaceful state. U.S. Army photo by Lt. Col. Scott Bleichwehl and a revitalization process that will make the Iraqis really proud and recognize that things have improved.” All things start with security, Brooks said, but quality of life initiatives have been brought to life in areas of the Iraqi capital where the neighborhood and district advisory councils have worked in harmony for the good of their constituents. “It’s where people in the neighborhood, people in the district recognize that they have needs and they’re the ones who should represent the people in that area,” Brooks said. “Mansour has a very active district council that is functioning very, very well, and our recent security operations have enhanced that, so they feel more and more secure. “They still remain periodically threatened, though,” Brooks said. “You have to recognize that people who are performing well, especially in harmony, are often targeted by extremists who don’t want to see good governance to ever form here.” While on one hand, extremist elements are attempting to create chaos in the city streets and deter progress and quality-of-life initiatives, Brooks pointed in the other direction, to the American soldier, and attributes much of the progress made to date in the Iraqi capital to the dedication of troops putting their boots on the ground to interact with residents and local officials. “We wouldn’t have any of these successes, we’d have no progress if it weren’t for the contributions of our troops who are out there,” Brooks said. “We ask an awful lot of our soldiers who are deployed over here. Certainly, we know we put them into harm’s way to accomplish whatever mission we set out to do. But their energy, their passion, their willingness to keep trying in the face of deliberate setbacks at the hands of the enemy or at the hands of sometimes the Iraqis themselves, they’re out there every day and they keep moving forward.” A Multi-National Division – Baghdad soldier walks down central Baghdad’s Haifa Street as street vendors begin setting up their wares.

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