April 15, 2008
SOME NEWS FROM BASRA: "Three weeks after Iraqi troops swarmed into the southern city of Basra to take on armed militiamen who had overrun the streets, many residents say they feel safer and that their lives have improved. . . . Residents say the streets have been cleared of gunmen, markets have reopened, basic services have been resumed and a measure of normality has returned to the oil-rich city. An AFP correspondent said three northwestern neighbourhoods once under the firm control of the Mahdi Army militia of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr -- Al-Hayaniyah, Khamsamile and Garma -- are now encircled by Iraqi troops who are carrying out door-to-door searches. Two other neighbourhoods once dominated by the Mahdi Army, Al-Qiblah in the southwest and Al-Taymiyyah in the centre, have been cleared of weaponry and many people have been arrested, military officials say." Not perfect, so far, but not the disaster we were hearing about from the media coverage of a couple of weeks ago.