Friday, March 16, 2007

Quote du Jour on the War

In a capital where public services barely function and five straight hours of electricity is a cause for celebration, Sadr City stands out. Some 2.5 million people, nearly all of them Shiites, live in the northeastern Baghdad community. Many of them lack running water and proper sewerage. Hundreds of thousands have no jobs and subsist on monthly food rations, a throwback to the international sanctions of the Saddam Hussein era.

Streets in some parts of Sadr City run black with sludge. Damaged power lines provide, at best, only four hours of electricity a day.

Many US soldiers were unprepared for what they found. During a patrol last week, troops brushed flies from their faces as they drove through rotting heaps of refuse and excrement that were piled outside houses. One soldier opened his Humvee's door and vomited.

Improving the quality of life for Iraqis - including those in Sadr City - is part of the American strategy, articulated by the new US commander, General David Petraeus. Once areas have been rid of insurgents, criminals and death squads, the US hopes to pump in cash to encourage small businesses and revive the local economy.

The plan is for the Americans and their Iraqi counterparts to stay in the neighbourhoods to keep the militants from returning. But first comes security: economic improvement will have to wait until the streets are safe.


Photo by CPT / Hat tip to Captains Quarters

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