View Full Version : Iraq: Positive News

July 26th, 2005, 05:58 AM
Traveling overseas can definitely broaden your horizons (http://www.fltimes.com/Main.asp?SectionID=38&SubSectionID=121&ArticleID=8874), not to mention make you appreciate your home even more:

[Spc. Christopher] Bean, 20, of Port Gibson, finished up a year-long stint in Baghdad as a truck driver with the 594th Transportation Co., a 101st Airborne division. His time in the military has given him a different perspective on the Fourth of July.

“In Iraq, we’re not fighting for ourselves,” said Bean, from his home base in Fort Campbell, Ky. “We’re over there fighting so the Iraqis can have their own Fourth of July.”

One of the things that struck Bean most about his time in Iraq was the people themselves. Most of the Iraqis he met were proud to have the Americans there, he said, and watching them go through their daily lives made him appreciate the historic significance of our Independence Day.

“Being there really opens your eyes to what our forefathers went through to get the freedom we have today,” he said.
Nation-building is never quick and never easy; hard-work and heartache are today, and the results often only years if not decades ahead. But the Iraqi people, with the assistance of the Coalition, have commenced their journey, and despite all the hardships, every day is another step forward. Below, some of these often much under-reported and unappreciated steps from the past three weeks.

SOCIETY: According to the latest survey (http://www.almendhar.com/almendharen/details.aspx?nID=4152) conducted by the Euphrates Development and Strategic Studies Center in provinces of Karbala, Najaf, Babel and Baghdad, while the opinion is almost evenly split on the question whether the constitution drafting process will finish on time, 53% of those polled thought the performance of the presidency council acceptable, 20% considered it as very acceptable, and only 26% thought it unacceptable. 51% of respondents trust the government to some extent, 21% have very strong trust in it, while 27% of surveyed do not trust it at all.

The constitution drafting process (http://www.iwpr.net/index.pl?archive/irq/irq_130_1_eng.txt) is progressing well:

Although Iraqi lawmakers acknowledge that drafting a permanent constitution is one of the biggest challenges facing the country, the team charged with producing the document are cautiously optimistic that they will complete the job on time.

Lawmakers are up against an August 15 deadline to finish writing the constitution, a daunting task considering the disputes that have taken place so far even over who should sit on then 55-member drafting committee.

The drafting team now has to grapple with the controversial issues of federalism, the role of Islam in governance and the status of oil-rich Kirkuk.

“We hope that, God willing, things will go well and we’ll finish our work on time, particularly if we deal with the thorny issues in a way that satisfies all parties,” said Humam Hammoodi, head of the Constitutional Drafting Committee and a member of the ruling United Iraqi Alliance.

The committee, which was formed in mid-May, now meets every week and has divided into five groups each dealing with a different topic: the basic principles of the constitution, rights and liberties, laws and the formation of the state, federalism, and final principles.

“There are differing viewpoints among committee members, but this doesn’t mean there is no agreement at all among them,” said Sadi al-Barzinji, a committee member from the Kurdish Alliance. “Whatever the differences, they can be solved through democratic dialogue.”
As another story (http://www.iwpr.net/archive/ipm/ipm_279.html) reports, "Humam Hamoudi, head of the committee to draft the constitution, said rapid and intensive meetings are underway with Sunni Arabs regarding possible disagreements. The meetings are meant to prevent a delay in the drafting of the constitution. He added the draft will be done with by August 1, as was decided earlier. He said they have agreed on many issues but there are still some contentious points, like federalism and the authority granted to the region's rulers." The Shia establishment is onboard too: "Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, head of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), has arrived in Najaf to meet top clerics to discuss the status quo of Iraq and the drafting of the constitution. The clerics agreed upon having all the different Iraqi spectrums participating in the drafting of the constitution and the political process with out marginalizing any of them."

But the constitution drafting process will soon involve consultation (http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/2005/06/constitution-update_30.html) that goes well beyond the committee or even the National Assembly:

Baha' Al-'Araji, a member of the constitution drafting committee told Al-Mada paper yesterday that there are going to be 5 spots in each Iraqi province where citizens can find designated boxes where they can put their opinions and suggestion as to the process of writing the constitution.

Only Baghdad will be an exception due to its high population so there will be 5 spots in each main quarter in the capital.

One million "suggestion forms" are planned to be distributed nationwide soon and there will be specialized teams to read, sort the received forms and prepare summaries that will eventually be submitted periodically to the main committee.
He also mentioned-according to the paper-that the committee has already purchased air time on satellite channels and columns space on papers (ten in total) to publish/broadcast materials of value to constitutional education to help people get a better understanding of the process.
You can also read this short vox populi (http://www.iwpr.net/index.pl?archive/irq/irq_132_1_eng.txt) from the Iraqi street about the new constitution.

And there are other favorable signs (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/04/AR2005070400662.html) for bigger future Sunni engagement in politics:

Several Sunni Muslim clerics have prepared a decree calling on members of Iraq's disaffected Sunni Arab minority to vote in coming elections and participate in the writing of a new constitution, a prominent Sunni leader said...

Adnan Dulaimi, who heads the Sunni Endowment, the government agency responsible for Sunni religious affairs, said the framers of the decree, or fatwa, would seek the support of other groups in the fractious Sunni community. If broadly embraced, Dulaimi and other Sunni leaders said,... the decree could pave the way to full political participation by a segment of Iraqi society that boycotted elections in January and has scant representation in the current government.

The push for the fatwa, together with formal approval by Iraq's National Assembly on Monday of the addition of 15 Sunnis to the committee writing the new constitution, suggested that slow and often contentious efforts to bring Sunni Arabs into the political sphere were beginning to bear fruit.
In another report (http://www.iwpr.net/archive/ipm/ipm_282.html): "Sunni clerics in Iraq are preparing to hold a general conference by the end of this week. The conference will include edicts to allow participations in the political process, the referendum on the constitution, and the coming elections. There will also be edicts that prohibit targeting the supreme election commission members in Baghdad and other provinces. The conference will ask all Iraqis to reject sectarianism and ethnicity and to stop targeting the clerics and men of thought, especially the Shia clerics."

Meanwhile, in the National Assembly, free-ranging debates (http://www.azzaman.com/english/index.asp?fname=news%5C2005-06-30%5C10427.htm) make it the first for the Middle East:

Death or torture awaited members of the former rubber stamp parliament if they ever had the courage to criticize the former regime. Today the country’s elected deputies openly pour their wrath on government officials in open sessions which many Iraqis hail as harbinger of a new era.

It was not surprising therefore to see the deputies adding the presence of U.S. troops in the country to their agenda this week as well as corruption in government ministries and terror attacks.

“Iraq’s sovereignty is an issue of paramount importance … It is the responsibility of this assembly to take a decision whether to approve or reject the extension of the multinational forces in the country,” declared Abdulrahman al-Nuaimi.

While the deputies freely discussed the pros and cons of the presence of U.S.-led troops in Iraq, there were no calls for their immediate withdrawal under current circumstances.

More important for other deputies were issues related to the reports of massive corruption in government ranks and the escalating terror and insurgent activities in the country.
As the new habits of debate and openness grow, Iraqi democracy also continues to benefit from increasing ties with overseas. For example, another two cities are becoming twinned (http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/050628/phtu051.html?.v=9):

The IVC of Philadelphia announced today that it is participating in the U.S. Department of State's "Partners for Peace" project with Mosul, Iraq.

Through IVC, officials from Iraq's third largest city will visit Philadelphia to learn about democratic governance. Committees in both countries will work to improve humanitarian conditions in Mosul.

"The IVC of Philadelphia is eager to partner with Mosul's leaders and citizens to support their transition to a democratic society," said Nancy Gilboy, President of the IVC of Philadelphia. "We've spent 51 years administering democracy-building programs and the past eleven years working with the former Soviet Union. That experience means we can hit the ground running with Mosul. We have humanitarian aid waiting to be shipped and a committee of Iraqi-Americans and generous citizen diplomats ready to help. For years, citizens in the Philadelphia area have shared their professional expertise and opened their offices and homes to guests from emerging democracies. We now look forward to engaging them with this important Mosul partnership."
The United Nations (http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=14785&Cr=Iraq&Cr1=), meanwhile, is supporting Iraqi civil society:

With 4,000 new non-governmental and civil society organizations (NGOs) mushrooming in Iraq after the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s one-party rule, the United Nations is holding a three-day workshop for some 30 Iraqi human rights defenders in Amman, capital of neighbouring Jordan.

The workshop, from 27 to 29 June, seeks to strengthen the capacity of NGOs for advocacy work and human rights promotion at the national, regional and international levels, help to develop strategies for past, current and future human rights violations, and build a network for sharing information and developing collaboration.
USAID is meanwhile supporting the development of better financial practices (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/EGUA-6DNSBZ?OpenDocument) throughout Iraqi bureaucracy:

To assist the Government of Iraq (GoI) to meet generally accepted standards in budget execution, USAID is working through partners under the Economic Governance II program to implement a state-of-the-art Financial Management Information System (FMIS) that will provide tools for federal financial management. Under Phase I of the project, 57 FMIS sites will be established at Ministries, spending agencies, and governorate treasuries by the end of June 2005. Under Phase II, a further 128 FMIS sites will be put in place.

FMIS orientation and computer skills training courses have been completed at 55 out of 57 of the Phase I sites while hardware has been installed at 44 out of 57 sites. By June 30, it is anticipated that all equipment will be installed and tested at Phase I sites.
And the Japan International Cooperation Agency has commenced statistics and economics training (http://www.iraqdirectory.com/files/articles/article550.htm) in Amman, Jordan, of employees of various ministries and government agencies. Jordanians themselves are conducting environmental awareness training (http://www.almendhar.com/english_4324/news.aspx) for employees of several Iraqi ministries.

Out in society, after decades of censorship, Iraqis re-discover the escape of books (http://www.iht.com/bin/print_ipub.php?file=/articles/2005/06/27/news/bookshop.php):

In a narrow alley off Mutanabi Street, Baghdad's main book market, the Dar al-Bayan bookshop is full of dust and classics. Old men sip tea in the back and talk of times past, before dictatorship, when poets and intellectuals made life here bright.

On the street outside, the new Iraq presses in. Card tables covered with computer manuals, cell phone booklets and how-to guides compete for space on the sidewalk. A vast array of religious books, banned under Saddam Hussein, pack the stalls.

As Iraqis struggle to make sense of the chaos and violence that has consumed their lives over the past two years, books offer some solace.

"Reality now is very strange," said Mufeed Jazaery, who was Iraq's culture minister in the recently departed interim government. "People are trying to put their feet on the ground, but they find themselves still hanging in the air. Is it quiet, or will there be another storm? Is it black or is it white? Is it moving, and if so, in which direction?"

But as well as showing a changing Iraq, books also reveal a dividing line between those who grew up before the years of dictatorship - who reach for history texts to understand what has happened to their country - and younger Iraqis straining to find answers to more immediate questions about their lives in self-help and how-to books, romance and religious titles.
"Chaos and violence" might have indeed "consumed" Iraqis' lives over the past two years, but prior to that their lives were hardly examples of normalcy. The difference is that back then they didn't even have books for consolation.

In dealing with the legacy of the past and returning back (http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticle.asp?xfile=data/focusoniraq/2005/June/focusoniraq_June146.xml&section=focusoniraq) to the Iraqi people some of their stolen national wealth:

The 170 palaces of former Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein are to be turned into cultural centres, research institutes and libraries, Iraqi Culture Minister Nuri Farhan al-Rawi said...

"We have already put an appropriate request to the American cultural attache," al-Rawi told delegates to a UNESCO conference on stolen and illegally exported cultural objects.

At the present, most of Saddam's palaces are occupied by American and British soldiers of the occupation force in Iraq, al-Rawi said.
And in another aspect of dealing with the past, "the Human Rights Committee in Baghdad province council of has established a Social Liability Fund (http://www.almendhar.com/almendharen/details.aspx?nID=4105) to support the families of martyrs through designating a sum of 50,000 dinars for each family and 10,000 dinars for each child of the martyr families, who were executed during the former regime, in addition to the terror martyrs."

In media news, "the first independent broadcast station (http://www.ijnet.org/FE_Article/newsarticle.asp?UILang=1&CId=303035&CIdLang=1) in southern Iraq is on the air.

Al Mirbad Radio hit the air waves on June 20, the BBC reported. “Welcome and Good morning, this is Al Mirbad Radio, a new voice for Southern Iraq,” were the first words broadcast by the station. The BBC World Service Trust, the British network’s charitable arm, built and established the station in Basra with funding from the U.K. government.

In its efforts to develop more independent and skilled media, the trust also conducted training courses for 80 journalists earlier this year in Amman. The trust also trained a group of Iraqi engineers on installing and operating the station’s equipment.
Meanwhile, BBC (http://www.infosat.lu/Meldungen/index.php?msgID=16063) is gaining considerable audience throughout the country:

BBC World Service is the biggest speech radio station in Iraq, according to new audience figures released.

Weekly audiences in the country have increased to 3.3 million (22%) from 1.8 million weekly listeners (13% of the radio audience) last year - an increase of 1.5 million.

The independent surveys also show that 43 per cent of opinion formers in Iraq listen every week.

The increase follows the rapid establishment of BBC FM relays in key parts of the country, including of Baghdad, Mosul & Irbil, Kirkuk, Al-Nasirya, Basra, Al-Kut, Salahuddin and Al-Amara.
And yes - reality TV (http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/12077449.htm) finally made it to Iraq. And also yes - "May You See Prosperity and Deserve It", the show that follows a young couple in the run-up to their wedding is a huge hit. On a more serious level, read about the Italian contribution (http://www.adnki.com/index_2Level.php?cat=CultureAndMedia&loid=8.0.181499740&par=) to restoring Iraq's cultural heritage.

Lastly, improving security situation is having one unusual side-effect - it's getting easier to buy alcohol (http://www.iwpr.net/index.pl?archive/irq/irq_131_4_eng.txt):

Faisal Faris’ cart on al-Haifa Street looks like any other boiled beans stall, but it is actually a cover for a far more serious trading operation. A secret drawer hides Faris’ real commodity – alcohol...

But even though they still cannot openly peddle their goods, alcohol sellers say business has been improving in the last few months.

Faris said that Iraqis were buying more alcohol because the security situation in his area has improved, since Iraqi forces cracked down on the insurgents. Now that militant activity has died down, people are less afraid of being attacked if they are found to be drinking.
ECONOMY: America and Iraq are formalizing their economic ties (http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=politicsNews&storyID=2005-07-11T174906Z_01_N11483229_RTRIDST_0_POLITICS-TRADE-IRAQ-USA-DC.XML) with a view to even closer relations in the future:

The United States and the U.S.-backed government in Iraq have signed a formal agreement aimed at boosting economic ties between the two countries, the U.S. Trade Representative's office said on Monday.

The pact, which could lead to a free trade agreement between Washington and Baghdad, was signed during a meeting of the U.S.-Iraq Joint Commission on Reconstruction and Economic Development in Amman, Jordan.

The trade and investment framework agreement, or TIFA, establishes a joint council to work on a wide range of commercial issues, USTR said.
To help reform the economy, and to increase the flow of international aid, which has stalled in part because of the lack of such progress, the Iraqi government will be instituting a far reaching program of restructuring (http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/Story.asp?Article=115399&Sn=BUSI&IssueID=28096):

War-torn Iraq is working to reduce state hand-outs that consume more than 80 per cent of its gross domestic product in its drive to qualify for debt relief and IMF support, the central bank's chief economist said.

Mudhir Salih Kasim said in an interview Iraq is committed to phasing out subsidies built-up over decades as the oil-based economy became more centralised, especially under the rule of former president Saddam Hussein.

"These levels are unheard of in the rest of the world. The government realises the issue is very sensitive and could spark uprisings," Kasim said yesterday, referring to the potential for popular unrest as subsidies especially on food, fuel and electricity, were reformed...

"Iraq has agreed to restructure the subsidies system, not scrap it altogether, in meetings with donors and creditors. The reform will move the economy, even if there is no fall in the level of violence," he said...

Iraq expanded hand-outs and subsidies to help people cope with crushing sanctions imposed by the United Nations from 1990-2003, which contributed to the economic collapse of the country with the world's second largest world reserves.

This came on top of $120bn of debt mostly accumulated in the 1980s to finance an eight-year war with Iran.
Part of any economic reform effort will be a program of privatization of state-owned enterprises. USAID (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/Officials+predict+growth+of+Iraq+businesses+and+Ir aq+jobs+through+privatization__1111290.html?PHPSES SID=4a6642dec198d1fd841f85ba58b2b186) is there to help, laying groundwork: "Officials are working on improving Iraq's private sector through legislation. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Private Sector Development (PSD) program staff recently met with six members of Iraq’s Legislative Committee on Privatization to discuss privatization experiences in other countries that might have relevance for Iraq and ways of moving forward in order to strengthen the private sector. As a result of the meeting, PSD project staff will continue to provide the Legislative Committee with support in developing model legislation that can serve as the basis of privatization in Iraq."

Some privatization is already on the cards (http://www.azzaman.com/english/index.asp?fname=news%5C2005-06-28%5C10425.htm), as the government wants to reactivate government-owned factories, which constitute the bulk of Iraq's industry, but are currently laying idle:

The Ministry of Industry and Minerals plans to privatize 10 major industries, according to Usama al-Najafi, the minister.

“The ministry is prepared to turn 10 of the public sector companies over to mixed or private ownership,” he said.

He said the companies’ Initial Public Offering will be announced soon through the Baghdad Stock Exchange.

The public-owned companies include “two cement factories and pharmaceutical and iron and steel firms,” the minister said.

If the privatization goes through it will be the first time for the pharmaceutical and cement industries to be transferred to private ownership.
Meanwhile, the government will be spending $1 billion (http://www.iraqdirectory.com/files/articles/article570.htm) for the support of Iraq's reviving private sector. On a smaller, local scene: "The Karbala provincial council (http://www.iwpr.net/archive/ipm/ipm_281.html) has decided to allow foreign companies to invest in Karbala according to special conditions or partnerships. Council spokesman Ghalib al-Dumi said approval has been granted for investment in the fields of oil, electricity, and the sewage system. The council has already made agreements with some companies."

In banking news, 29 June saw the official launch of credit card (http://www.adnki.com/index_2Level.php?cat=Business&loid=8.0.182043214&par=0) in Iraq: "For the first time, we will have an Iraqi credit card, which is certain to increase trust between shopowners, creditors and customers, and to contribute to the development of banking in Iraq," said the director of the Central Bank of Iraq in the southern city of Basra, Zuhayr Ali Akbar." In other banking news, Al Rasheed bank is also now providing an option to customers of opening bank account in foreign currency (http://www.almendhar.com/english_4488/news.aspx). And two new private banks (http://www.iraqdirectory.com/files/articles/article573.htm) have been established recently:

Al Mansur Investment Bank, with a capital 55billion dinars (about 38 million dollars), and Tigris and Euphrates Bank for Development and Investment, with a capital of 25 billion dinars (about 17 million dollars)...

The announcement for the establishment of the two new banks comes a few days after the end of underwriting in two other private banks: Ashur International Bank and the Islamic National Bank, in which Iraqi investors and Arabs residing in the UAE have participated in establishing them, which gave them strength and increased the demand for underwriting in their shares.
To further help along the reform of Iraqi banking sector, USAID is conducting workshops (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/Lessons+for+Iraq+business+members+on+bank+lending+ expected+to+generate+Iraq+employment+and+Iraq+busi ness+growth__1111287.html?PHPSESSID=4a6642dec198d1 fd841f85ba58b2b186) for the industry workers. USAID is supporting the development of Iraqi micro-finance industry (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/EGUA-6DNSBZ?OpenDocument) through training of its professionals:

The PSD program recently provided financial analysis training in Amman, Jordan to 26 middle- and senior-level managers from two organizations in Iraq’s emerging non-bank microfinance industry. By the end of the one-week course, attendees improved their skills in conducting financial analyses, preparing financial performance reports, and making recommendations to improve the financial performance of their organizations.

The course was one of a series of training modules designed to move the organizations toward becoming sustainable non-bank credit, or microfinance, institutions that lend money to small businesses and farmers.

A stronger, non-bank microfinance industry in Iraq will help empower thousands of poor families to better realize their potential through savings and credit programs for small enterprises.
USAID is also assisting small businesses (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/Small+and+medium-sized+Iraqi+businesses+receive+grants,+training__1 111298.html?PHPSESSID=c0791c0de9a021f7721869d68da2 5e4a) throughout Iraq in an effort to boost the country's private sector:

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA) recently supported training events for Iraqi small and medium-sized enterprises and approved 14 small business grants...

Recent training activities included sessions for 31 small businesses in the non-permissible areas of Baghdad, Mosul and Kirkuk; and trainings for 13 consultants in Baghdad who will provide business planning services to Iraqi companies for the purpose of accessing credit under the Iraqi Middle Market Development Fund (IMMDF) and other credit programs.
And here are two success stories of Iraqi Stock Exchange: Warka Investment Bank (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/Warkaa+Bank+and+Mamoura++are+back+with+shining+col ors__1111281.html?PHPSESSID=71cdb3dfe70a3bcb30b675 26f874eacb), whose shares have increased in value by 287 percent in less than a couple of months, and Pepsi Baghdad (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/Another+five+percent+share+in+Pepsi+Baghdad+bought __1111280.html?PHPSESSID=71cdb3dfe70a3bcb30b67526f 874eacb).

Speaking of soft drinks, that old symbol of American imperialism is coming to Iraq: after absence of 25 years, Coca Cola (http://www.adnki.com/index_2Level.php?cat=Business&loid=8.0.181608676&par=0) is opening a bottling factory in Iraq to supply the local market.

In Baghdad (http://www.almendhar.com/english_4367/news.aspx), an old institution revives:

After years of absence, Al Nahr Street in Baghdad is back to life and to the women, who never left it all their lives until the end of the 80s of the last century. This street has turned into wholesale markets, after the Iraqi families found it hard to visit it, due to the bad economic conditions.

For those who do not know the street well, Al Nahr Street is also known as Al Nisa Street, or the street of beautiful girls, as the majority of its visitors are women for the fact that its stores are specialized in selling women's clothes and for its fame for having jewelry stores, gold and silver and other jewelry. Even if we have seen some men walking in this street, they are there to buy a gift or something for their wives or sisters.
German journalist reports that the northern Iraq is thriving (http://www.kurdishmedia.com/news.asp?id=7135):

Rashid Tahir Hassan’s office in the Kurdish Ministry of Finance resembles a small Kurdish memorial. On the wall behind his gigantic black desk hang two pictures of the legendary Kurdish fighter Mullah Mustafa Barzani in heavy gold frames; on the console underneath is a plate with his likeness. The room is adorned with photographs of Kurdish villages and the city of Erbil, the seat of the Kurdish autonomous region in northern Iraq. Hassan himself seems to embody the Kurdish mentality. When he has something positive to say, he looks melancholy. "Since the Fall of Saddam Hussein the Kurds have been born again," said Rashid Tahir Hassan, lowering his eyelids and pausing. He takes a sip from his glass of tea and glances out the window. Then he adds, "We no longer live from one day to the next; for the first time in our history we are planning for the future."

A glance out of the window of the Director General for Finance of the Kurdish regional government shows how far the future of Kurdistan has already flourished: around the Ministry of Finance, as in many places in the city, buildings are shooting up. Apartment buildings, offices, warehouses, it looks as if everywhere in Erbil is under construction...

Travelling by car from Erbil to Suleimaniyah, it’s difficult to believe that this part of Iraq has anything to do with the country known from the TV news. While car bombs explode daily in Baghdad and new mass graves are discovered around the so-called Sunni Triangle, the Kurds are experiencing a regular boom. Not only is Erbil under construction, but also in Dukan new roads are springing up, and in many villages vacation homes are being built. The demand for home ownership and the wish for improvement in the infrastructure are so great that the cement factory in front of the gates of Suleimaniyah has been put back in operation.

The clearest sign of the new boom in Kurdistan is the increase in salaries. Before the fall of Saddam Hussein a white collar worker earned 22,000 Iraqi dinar per month (around $148)--today 158,000, according to the Ministry of Finance. A clear sign of the upswing is the fact that Kurds have meanwhile become too expensive for some jobs. On the side of the road between Erbil and Suleimaniyah you discover tents with Iraqi and Chinese flags in honour of guest workers from China. Thirty-eight men from Beijing who speak neither English nor Kurdish nor Arabic are widening Kurdistan’s highway network. They sleep at night on cots in tents on the edge of the construction site. In Suleimaniyah you find more guest workers from their own country...

In the streets of Suleimaniyah, not only is there more security than in Baghdad but also more freedom than in the southern part of the country. You see women with and without headscarves, you see them in black garments or in jeans with tight t-shirts, you see them openly drinking beer in the afternoons. In restaurants and on the streets you hear cell phones ringing, whose rings sound like pop versions of eastern music.
Perhaps the most delicious irony comes from Nazar Kahailany, Kurdish dissident who was tortured under Saddam Hussein and fled to Germany 20 years ago: "We always believed that only communism would free us from Saddam Hussein. Now we’ve learned that we needed the Americans for that." Here's another report (http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/2005/07/hi-again-and-sorry-for-long-absence-i.html) from the booming Suleymaniyah, this time from an Iraqi blogger Omar: "I have to admit that this is the highest rate of construction one can find in the whole country and the streets and market places were so busy and crowded especially in the late afternoon and early evening."

A recent trade delegation to Great Britain from southern Iraq (http://icliverpool.icnetwork.co.uk/business/news/tm_objectid=15678121&method=full&siteid=50061&headline=leaders-of-southern-iraq-in-visit-to-forge-links-with-merseyside-name_page.html) was also at pains to remind the world that the situation there is very different to what the news coverage suggests:

The delegation included senior southern members of the Iraqi transitional government, politicians, lawyers and the editor of a newspaper in Basra.

All wanted to stress that the image of Iraq as a place of almost daily atrocities was based around events in Baghdad.

"People need to understand that Baghdad is hundreds of kilometres away and in the south there is peace, " said 'Abd al-Karim Mahmud Al-Muhammadawi.

One of Iraq's leading freedom fighters, he battled against Saddam's Ba'athist regime from the southern marsh region for 17 years earning him the title of "lord of the marshes".

Now he is a leading figure in the movement to re-establish southern Iraq as a commercial centre which capitalises on the region's wealth of oil reserves and a vast workforce.

"We are ready to do business and we want people to come to Basra, see that it is a safe and stable place with huge resources," he said.
The authorities have signed a contract with an American car company (http://www.almendhar.com/english_4369/news.aspx) to produce 90 thousand sedans, 130 thousand pickups and 10 thousand 4-wheel-drive cars a year. Meanwhile the number of old used cars is steadily decreasing throughout Iraq in favor of new models (http://www.almendhar.com/english_4379/news.aspx).

A new program is trying to bring back Iraqi expats (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/Iraqis+Rebuilding+Iraq+provides+jobs+for+experts__ 1111312.html?PHPSESSID=cfb94d4d9ac268ab747482cbcff cd7b8) and utilize their skills in new Iraq:

The third Iraqis Rebuilding Iraq (IRI) candidate recently traveled to Baghdad to start his 12-month assignment as Director General for Government Communications at the Council of Ministers Secretariat.

Al Asaadi came across the IRI program while he was searching the internet for possible job vacancies in Iraq through the different well-known recruitment agencies and channels, for he was an Iraqi expert interested in supporting his country by applying his expertise and skills to serve his fellow people.

Al Asaadi said that the IRI program was the only program that looked for Iraqi experts to take assignments in Iraq, and it was the only program that stressed having expert Iraqi citizens living abroad to take up assignments through the support of the IRI program.
More here (http://www.iraq-iri.org/).

In oil news, despite constant sabotage, oil exports in June have increased slightly (http://www.iraqdirectory.com/files/articles/article561.htm) over the May figure. In the south, "workers in South Oil Company are continuing in erecting and operating modern technological equipments, which were contracted to be supplied by Italian and French companies, in the very significant Majnoun oil well. This participates in doubling the current production (http://www.iraqdirectory.com/files/articles/article563.htm) to 100 thousand barrels a day, within the first stage of the local investment of the well."

A major expo (http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticle.asp?xfile=data/business/2005/June/business_June494.xml&section=business&col=) in a few months' time will link Iraq's oil and gas sector with expertise and investment from major international industry players:

A projected $ 35-40 billion (Dhs 128.55-146.92 billion) is up for grabs as contractors vie to participate in rebuilding the Iraqi oil sector.

OGS 2005, the premier Arab Oil and Gas Show which is to be held from November 7 to 9, 2005, at the Dubai International Exhibition Centre, is expected to be an important link between cutting-edge technology providers and investors in Iraq's resurgent Oil & Gas sector.

In the 12th edition of its showing, OGS will provide companies with a platform to network and discuss business prospects, innovation and issues related to exploration, extraction, processing, storage, transportation and security in the oil and gas industry. "With investment in Oil & Gas infrastructure growing exponentially all across the GCC region, investors are increasingly on the look-out for technologies and services that provide the optimum combination of high return on investment and competitive edge in a dynamic global market-place.
Iraqi authorities have also awarded their first tenders in a year (http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story.asp?guid=%7B0EFBD2C4-633B-4DEB-823F-566E9B4A1EE5%7D) to oil fields in Kirkuk, to ExxonMobil Corp., Total SA, Repsol YPF SA, and Tupras. Meanwhile, "eleven oil fields (http://www.adnki.com/index_2Level.php?cat=Business&loid=8.0.185260588&par=0) in southern Iraq, capable of boosting the country's production to three million barrels a day will soon be tendered to international investors." Says the oil ministry's spokesman, Asim Jihad, "We will seek foreign investments, that will allow us to develop our industry but without paving the way for foreign monopolies to take over."

There is also increasing oil cooperation with foreign countries, for example Iran (http://www.mehrnews.ir/en/NewsDetail.aspx?NewsID=203086). And with Kuwait (http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2005-07/12/content_3210134.htm): "Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) intends to renew its contract with Iraqi authorities... The contract which includes supplying Iraq with oil products is expected to be renewed by Aug. 1."

The U.S.-Iraq Joint Commission on Reconstruction and Economic Development has recently announced the development of the Iraq Oil Training Program (http://www.harolddoan.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=4401), a $2 million training scheme for the Iraqi oil and gas sector. Says the Regional Director Carl Kress: "The IOTP is a significant step forward in supporting the modernization of Iraq’s oil industry, bringing together the U.S. public and private sectors to deliver the best available training in the oil and gas sector – for the benefit of the Iraqi people in the rebuilding of this vital sector... We expect USTDA’s investment in this project will be supplemented by substantial U.S. private sector and university resources, resulting in immediate and medium term training and capacity building benefits for the Ministry of Oil.”

You can also read this story about the high-level debates (http://www.iraqdirectory.com/files/articles/article559.htm) about the future equitable management of Iraq's oil wealth.

In comunication news (http://www.forbes.com/home/feeds/afx/2005/06/28/afx2114447.html),

Iraq has announced that it will launch a bidding process for new mobile phone licences in July in London, five months before the licenses held by three main regional firms are set to expire.

'We will announce the opening of the process of bidding for the new mobile licences for Iraq... by holding a conference in London July 21-22,' Iraqi National Communications and Media Commission chief Siyamend Othman said.

Egypt's telecom giant Orascom controls Iraq's central region, while mobile phone operations for the south are managed by Atheer, a branch of the Kuwaiti firm MTC, and the north is in the hands of Asiacell, a consortium of Iraqi and Gulf firms.
As the report says, "communication experts predict there will be 5 mln mobile phone users in Iraq within three years and 8 mln within 10 years."

"Iraqna's staff members have been taken captive and harassed, its infrastructure sabotaged and its network constantly jammed during US military operations," says this report on Orascom's operation, yet the Egyptian-owned company has proven to be a success story (http://egyptelection.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=1735):

Iraqna's subscription fees are now as low as $17 compared with $70 a year ago, but service in certain areas goes down for days sometimes...

The company, which started in the Baghdad area and expanded to central and western Iraq and the southern port city of Basra, reported revenues of $63 million in the first quarter of 2005, up 200% from the same period one year ago.

Despite its problems, Iraqna's service has been popular in a country where mobile phones were virtually non-existent under ousted president Saddam Hussein...

As it seeks to hold on to its Iraq franchise, Orascom has sponsored the national football team, supported universities, helped people rebuild homes destroyed in the violence and funded a charity started by Kadhim al-Sahir, Iraq's best known pop star.
Orascom intends to invest $2.5 billion (http://www.iraqdirectory.com/files/articles/article574.htm) in the Iraqi telecommunications market.

In other communications news, Iraq's state-owned telecommunications company is launching (http://www.almendhar.com/english_4533/news.aspx) a new and improved long-distance and international call system. And Iraq is also regaining its rightful place in cyberspace (http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/afp/20050628/tc_afp/iraqrebuildinternetjordan_050628155642):

Iraq hopes to bolster its sovereignty by putting the country's official domain name on the Internet within weeks.

"We hope to announce very soon the return of Iraq's domain name '.iq' back on the Internet," Iraqi National Communications and Media Commission chief Siyamend Othman said on the sidelines of a forum in Jordan on developing his war-scarred country.

"We are at the final stages of negotiations for the return of '.iq' and we are quite optimistic that we can do so in the coming weeks," Othman added Tuesday.

Iraq is negotiating to get its place in cyberspace with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), an international, non-profit organisation that is responsible for Internet Protocol (IP) addresses.

The former head of the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, Paul Bremer, asked ICANN in 2004 to take ownership of '.iq', which was initially registered several years ago.

Business leaders in Iraq say the ability to create a presence on the Internet with websites ending in '.iq' will be a boost to commerce.
In transport news, the Baghdad-Basra service (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/23/international/middleeast/23flight.html) commences successfully:

Aboard Flight 15, over southern Iraq - The smiling flight attendants strode down the aisle of the Boeing 727 in crisp green uniforms, handing out cold cans of soda and pieces of cake.

But it was more than just the food service, a throwback to another age of aviation, that brought a sense of relief to the passengers.

Just minutes earlier, the plane had leveled off after a steep corkscrew ascent from Baghdad International Airport. It was cruising now at 23,000 feet. In one piece.

No smoke trails from surface-to-air missiles, no rocket attacks, no mortar hits.

"The flight will be good, God willing," Awadees Razoiam, 55, an oil geologist, said as he bit into his cake.

Such is the scene aboard the Iraqi equivalent of the New York-to-Washington shuttle - a 55-minute hop between Baghdad and the southern oil city of Basra that costs $75 for a one-way coach ticket. The flight, begun this month, is the first domestic service operated by state-owned Iraqi Airways since the American-led invasion.

There are no frequent-flier benefits and no free newspapers at the gate. But the flight allows quick and safe passage (relatively speaking) between the capital and the city at the heart of Iraq's economy, making it perhaps the most significant in-country transportation development since the war.
And up north (http://www.iwpr.net/archive/ipm/ipm_282.html): "The Sulaimanyah International Airport, SIA, is ready to open, according to Kamaran Ahmed, supervisor of the SIA. Ahmed said that this week, the airport will receive the first experimental flight, which will be a plane flying in from Baghdad. After that flight, the airport will officially open. The first official flight will come from Jordan, carrying Planning Minister Barham Salih and Transportation Minister Salam al-Maliki."

Meanwhile, on the ground: "On June 19, Iraqi workers finished construction on railroad stations (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jul2005/20050704_1941.html) in Balad and Baiji. These facilities will connect Salah al-Din with destinations throughout the provinces, bringing goods to customers and citizens in distant cities. Two important rail projects have already been completed in Kirkuk: the Kirkuk and al-Maraej stations have been rehabilitated. Throughout the rest of the nation, the Ministry of Transportation has more than 100 rail projects scheduled; 28 are currently being built, while 45 have been completed and are serving the people."

USAID (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/EGUA-6DNSBZ?OpenDocument)is assisting the growth of Iraqi agriculture through a variety of small scale projects around the country:

- The Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) and USAID’s Agriculture Reconstruction and Development for Iraq (ARDI) program will repair two culverts in Babil Governorate that carry water underneath roadways to irrigate farmland. The efficient use of water and functioning irrigation systems are especially important in southern and central Iraq, where there is less rainfall...

- Two media centers in northern Iraq are producing agricultural publications with funding from MOA and ARDI. Support for this activity is intended to increase the government’s capacity to produce high-quality publications that keep farmers apprised of best practices and issues in farming...

- At a workshop in central Iraq, the MOA and ARDI recently launched a summer rice demonstration activity which could benefit thousand of farmers. During the event, specialists outlined challenges faced by Iraq’s rice farmers and explained how the new project will address these needs...

- MOA/ARDI staff are also working to support apple farmers. An apple demonstration program, similar to the rice program, has designated several orchards around the country to demonstrate improved cultivation techniques.
RECONSTRUCTION: After suspending loans to Iraq in 1985, the Japanese authorities will be resuming the initiative, with a $3.5 billion (http://www.iwpr.net/archive/ipm/ipm_269.html) for the reconstruction work, chiefly in water and electricity. Saudi Arabia (http://www.arabnews.com/?page=4&section=0&article=65795&d=23&m=6&y=2005) will be extending soft loans worth $1 billion for reconstruction.

The United Nations is transferring $200 million (http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N24685771.htm) from the "oil-for-food"-financed weapons inspections account to the Development Fund for Iraq to help finance the reconstruction effort.

The Ministry of Municipalities and Works (http://www.almendhar.com/almendharen/details.aspx?nID=4104) has assigned 51 billion and 490 million dinars ($35 million) for administration and construction projects during the current year: "one billion and 750 thousand dinars [$1.16 million] were designated for tiling roads, 5 billions [$3.4 million] for asphalting in the provinces, a 1 billion and 600 million dinars [$1 million] for rehabilitating municipality buildings and departments and 850 million dinars [$0.5 million] for fulfilling the needs of the municipality departments of cleaning machinery... [and] 16.5 billion dinars [$11 million] to execute new commitments and finish former commitments."

Japanese authorities, meanwhile, are building and rebuilding roads in Al-Muthanna province (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/VBOL-6DTHSX?OpenDocument&rc=3&cc=irq): $862,000 to repair roads in Samawah ("The aid will enable the Department to carry out long-term repair of the damaged roads and to accelerate repair work. In Samawah, reconstruction activities are proceeding in various fields such as roads and electricity. Speeding up road repair in Samawah is expected to improve the traffic situation including alleviating congestion and activating even further the social and economic activities of the Samawah citizens."), $842,837 for Ar-Rumaitha ("With this aid, which will repair roads in the most severely damaged areas in central Rumaitha (a total of 10.57 km), it is expected to contribute to improving the lives of Rumaitha citizens and the welfare and stability of the community."), and $706,000 for Mutawag Al-Chibashi Road ("The aid, which will conduct emergency repairs (asphalt paving) of a part of the road (about 6.7km), is expected to improve the lives of the people in areas surrounding the road and to contribute to building and stabilizing the local community."). Here's more (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/VBOL-6E7GQ7?OpenDocument&rc=3&cc=irq) on Japanese road projects in southern Iraq.

In Baghdad, the authorities are completing another housing project (http://www.azzaman.com/english/index.asp?fname=news%5C2005-07-10%5C10436.htm):

A state-run construction firm has completed 70% of a major housing project in Baghdad, the Ministry of Housing and Reconstruction said.

The project in Sabaa Abkar consists of 48 buildings and is expected to cost $5 million.

The project covers an area of 72,500 square meters and includes a school, car parks and paved roads in addition to a 240-square meter market place.

The project is one of several currently being implemented in Baghdad and other Iraqi provinces.
USAID's Community Action Program, meanwhile, is helping small communities around the country help improve their local infrastructure. Currently (http://www.usaid.gov/iraq/updates/jun05/iraq_fs34_062305.pdf) (link in PDF), the CAP is assisting in installing water pipe, a water pump and a generator, as well as repairing the electricity network to provide potable water for a community of 1,100, 100 km outside Baghdad; in building a sports and recreation center in Wasit governorate; and in repairing 3 km of road in a community outside Mosul.

In new water and sanitation projects, good news for residents of one Baghdad district: "Reconstruction gained momentum in the Nissan district of eastern Baghdad, where major sewer and water projects (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jul2005/20050704_1941.html) broke ground in Kamaliya and Oubaidi. After completing a site survey, workers began on the project that ultimately will create a sewer network serving 8,870 homes in Kamaliya. The area has never had underground sewage lines and relies on slit trenches, which leads to sewage pooling in the streets. The project will cost about $27 million and will employ 600 local workers at peak construction times. As the sewer project takes shape, an existing water distribution system will be rehabilitated. About 5,435 homes are slated to receive connections to the water main."

In the district of Abu Ghraib (http://www.almendhar.com/english_4485/news.aspx), a new water project costing $450,000 will provide reliable drinking water to 40,000 residents.

Baghdad's municipal authorities are currently conducting talks (http://www.almendhar.com/english_4375/news.aspx) in Jordan with the representatives of the World Bank regarding the allocation of a $65 million grant for eight major water infrastructure projects in the capital.

And north of the capital: "On June 27, a water treatment project (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jul2005/20050704_1941.html) was finished in Kirkuk, which will provide 5,000 people from four villages with clean, potable water, while another began in the northwestern Ninewah province. Eight water projects are programmed for construction in Mosul, and 34 water projects are programmed nationwide. Seven of those are under way, and 18 are complete."

In Diyala province (http://www.usaid.gov/iraq/updates/jun05/iraq_fs35_063005.pdf), one USAID project has just been finished (link in PDF): "USAID’s work at water and waste water treatment plants in Ad Dujayl (Diyala Governorate) is complete and the facilities are now servicing the city’s 60,000 residents . Work at the water treatment plant was completed on May 26 and on February 27 at the waste water treatment plant. The new water treatment plant will ensure delivery of a safe dependable water supply to the city. Prior to the work, the water treatment plant operated well below capacity, providing only 33 percent of the potable water needed for the region."

And this joint effort is aiming to improve personal and agricultural access to water in rural areas (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/Water+repairs+to+benefit+7,000+Iraqis__1111289.htm l?PHPSESSID=4a6642dec198d1fd841f85ba58b2b186) of Iraq:

As part of efforts to improve the hydraulic infrastructure in Iraq's rural areas, the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) and the U.S. Agency for International Development's (USAID) Agriculture Reconstruction and Development for Iraq (ARDI) program are set to begin repairs of some discharge regulators – devices that help to limit and direct the flow of water through irrigation canals.

Improving the hydraulic system in Iraq is central to the MOA/ARDI mission of increasing agricultural production throughout the country.

In the center and south of Iraq, agriculture relies heavily on irrigation. But unfortunately most canals, drainage and hydraulic structures have not been properly maintained or replaced since they were installed in the 1980s.

As part of a new project recently approved by USAID, MOA/ARDI will commence repairs on a discharge regulator that provides water to 10,000 donums (2,500 hectares) of land in central Iraq’s Qadissiyah Governorate.

The increased ability to control water amounts will positively affect the livelihoods of 1,050 farm families who rely on the agricultural production from the adjacent land as their major source of income. In total, more than 7,000 Iraqis will benefit.
In electricity news, there will be more fuel (http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/2005/06/more-fuel-for-power-stations.html) for the power stations: "The ministry of oil is going to increase daily fuel supplies delivered to the ministry of electricity by 2 million liters to reach 4.5 million liters instead of the current 2.5 million liters of daily supplies. Officials from the ministry of electricity welcomed this step that will 'allow the ministry to operate some idle units and enable the production of an additional 1000 mega watts of electricity' and this will reflect positively on the amount of power available from the national grid." As Iraqi blogger Omar comments: "It's worth mentioning that the peak power production has reached the 5000 mega watts milestone earlier this month and it is planned to increase that amount to 6000 mega watts by the end of this months. I hope their plans are good enough to provide the electricity we need; we've tolerated 15 years of electricity shortages so far and I really don't mind waiting for another year or two if I'm sure that the guys in charge are really doing all they can to improve the situation."

Meanwhile, work at USAID (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/EGUA-6DNSBZ?OpenDocument) projects around the country continues:

Work continues on the installation of the V-94 combustion gas turbine at the Taza Substation in Kirkuk... The project’s Scope of Work includes the design, manufacture, delivery, installation, testing, and commissioning of one V-64 Combustion Gas Turbine (65MW nominal rating) and one V-94 Combustion Gas Turbine (260MW). Combined, these will supply 325MW to the national grid. The plant’s gas pipeline has also been extended by 15 kilometers to connect to a fuel source. Finally, plant operation and maintenance staff will receive training...

Work is continuing on the rehabilitation of two units at the Doura power plant in southern Baghdad. Although its four steam boilers and turbines are each rated at 160MW, all have been poorly maintained for many years, largely due to spare parts shortages. Its cooling systems are now severely damaged so its turbines can no longer be operated at full-load without risk of further damage from overheating. As a result, the plant has operated far below its full-load rating of 640MW.
Another USAID project is now starting to benefit southern Baghdad (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/New+expansion+of+Baghdad+power+plant+produces+elec tricity__1111286.html?PHPSESSID=4a6642dec198d1fd84 1f85ba58b2b186): "The new expansion of a power plant in south Baghdad is now producing electricity. The first firing of one of the expansion’s two combustion turbines — Unit 1B — took place a day ahead of schedule. On June 16, engineers synchronized Unit 1B with the grid and established a base load of 95 megawatts (MW). This plant expansion is producing megawatts for the Iraqi power grid before the critical summer peak."

Baghdad airport (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/Baghdad+International+Airport+to+achieve+100+perce nt+electrical+self-sufficiency__1111288.html?PHPSESSID=4a6642dec198d1 fd841f85ba58b2b186) will, meanwhile, soon benefit from another project: "Work is nearing completion on a project that will allow Baghdad International Airport (BIAP) to achieve 100 percent electrical self-sufficiency. The BIAP electrical system has an generation output design range of 18 to 22.3 MW and consists of three 33kV power transformers, 11kV and 400 V distribution systems, five diesel generators, and numerous smaller emergency generators."

The authorities are also launching a crackdown (http://www.azzaman.com/english/index.asp?fname=news%5C2005-07-01%5C10427.htm) to restore the integrity of the electricity network, as many Iraqis are illegally connected to the grid and do not pay for the access.

In the education sector, USAID (http://www.usaid.gov/iraq/updates/jun05/iraq_fs34_062305.pdf) continues to assist Iraqi schools (link in PDF):

A total of 504,458 Secondary School Student Kits have been distributed to students in 2,244 secondary schools in Iraq. This initiative is being coordinated through Iraq’s Ministry of Education (MOE) which will coordinate distribution of the remaining 20,542 kits. Each kit contains 10 Arabic exercise books, one English exercise book, one drawing set, one lab notebook, 12 pencils, four pencil sharpeners, four erasers, a ruler, and a calculator...

Ten thousand out of school Iraqi youth aged 12-18 will attend Accelerated Learning Program (ALP) schools beginning in the fall that will allow them to make up for two missed years of primary school in one year. ALP schools will be identified by each Department of Education and will receive special kits for classrooms, teachers and students. The program is being implemented by UNICEF with USAID support. Fifteen ALP resource persons are being trained this month in Amman; each will go on to train 17 trainers in each of the participating governorates. A total of 2,000 teachers country-wide will be trained to teach in the ALP schools, and 1,000 students will be enrolled in each participating governorate.
Meanwhile, on the local level, "the ministry of education has designated a sum of 30 billion dinars [$20 million] to establish 40 new schools in Nainawa province (http://www.almendhar.com/english_4523/news.aspx)... the current period would witness establishing 42 rural schools and demolishing 136 schools, built of clay, and replacing them with new schools. In addition, 72 suites would be added to a number of the schools of the villages and countryside in the province."

In higher education, USAID's Higher Education and Development (http://www.usaid.gov/iraq/updates/jun05/iraq_fs34_062305.pdf) (HEAD) program, is linking American and Iraqi universities to provide Western resources and expertise in rebuilding Iraqi higher education system. In most recent initiatives (link in PDF):

Health faculty members at Jackson State University (JSU) are developing curriculum and course materials that will be shared with two major Iraqi universities... The materials include a Comparative Health Systems course and comparative analyses of health systems in the U.S., UK, Canada, Iraq, Oman, and Egypt. Lectures, suggested reading lists, assignments and sample examinations are also included with course materials.

Also under the JSU and the Mississippi Consortium for International Development partnership, seven faculty members - primarily doctors and engineers - from several major Iraqi medical education institutes received minigrants for Several laboratories and libraries are being refurbished and reequipped under the HEAD partnership with the University of Oklahoma (UO).

Biology laboratory equipment was recently delivered to a Basrah university. A UO staff member will set up the equipment and train Iraqis on its use in June. Soil science, veterinary medicine and global mapping laboratories will be established at the five universities participating in the HEAD/UO partnership. UO recently established an advanced geography lab at a major Iraqi technical university which is being utilized by over 400 students, 100 of whom are women. At the new lab, students use modern GIS/GPS technologies to process satellite imagery to analyze changes in Iraq’s environment, climate and infrastructure. UO staff will be conducting workshops and instructing lab staff in the maintenance and use of the equipment and labolatories.

UO has also refurbished university libraries including the internet computer center and library at the University of Babil which officially opened in May.
The Simmons Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) and the Harvard University libraries will train Iraqi librarians (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/Knowledge+inForm,+Inc.+announces+participation+in+ program+to+help+modernize+library+systems+of+Iraq_ _1111296.html?PHPSESSID=c0791c0de9a021f7721869d68d a25e4a), archivists and information professionals "in the current practices of archives and preservation, automation, collection development, curriculum development, digital libraries, management, reference and organization of knowledge."

Meanwhile, the authorities have assigned additional 63 billion dinars ($43 million) for increased salaries (http://www.almendhar.com/english_4329/news.aspx) for Iraqi academics. More here (http://www.azzaman.com/english/index.asp?fname=news%5C2005-07-07%5C10435.htm):

The salary raise is good news for the university faculty whose members had to make ends meet with an average of 15,000 dinars a month (less than 10 dollars) under the former leader Saddam Hussein.

The new raise will see salaries of faculty with the title of professor rising up to $1,000.

It brings salaries at Iraqi universities close to those in neighboring Jordan, so far a magnet for the country’s brain drain.

Iraq has the highest percentage of people with higher degrees in the Middle East. According to official statistics the proportion of people with Ph.D.s in Iraq is higher even than in advanced countries.

Iraqi universities run their own post-graduate programs and 390 doctoral candidates are expected to join the University of Baghdad alone this year. There are 12 universities in the country running their own Ph.D. studies.
In health news, Iraqi doctors (http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/IRIN/1ecf61982c277fac26ee5026f368cee8.htm) are about to be offered greater incentives and rewards:

The Iraqi Ministry of Health (MoH) announced this week that they are going to respond to a request from doctors to increase their salaries.

"Doctors in Iraq are still receiving insufficient salaries and their work should be respected. We expect that in the coming month their salaries will be raised according to their positions," Jalil al-Shummary, deputy ministry of health, said.

Under Saddam Hussein's regime, doctors in Iraq received less than US $ 20 per month. After the war that ousted him in 2003, salary increases of up to $ 200 per month were awarded to doctors. The health ministry now hopes to offer further increments of up to 200 percent.
The World Health Organisation (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/KHII-6DT7V2?OpenDocument&rc=3&cc=irq) is providing supplies and equipment for various areas of Iraqi health system:

As of mid-June 2005, laboratory equipment, reagents/kits and consumables valued at US$1.87 million have been received in Amman, out of which US$1.5 million have delivered to the Ministry of Health Nutrition Research Institute Food Control Laboratory in Baghdad... Three truck loads of diagnostic kits, monitors and ophthalmology supplies and equipment were delivered into Baghdad this week by WHO. This delivery forms part of the integral support given by WHO to the Ministry of Health under the UNDG ITF Mental Health and Non-Communicable Disease Programme to strengthen health facilities with regards to the reduction and prevention and blindness.The WHO is also training Iraqi specialists:

Nine Iraqi technicians arrived in Cairo on the 25th June 2005 to start a period of intensive training courses at the Drug Control, Analysis and Research Centre in Egypt, which are due to last between two -- four weeks each...

37 participants from the Iraqi Ministry of Health the Ministry of Higher Education this week completed the first National Training Course on Management of Public Health Risks in Disasters and Complex Emergencies, being conducted by WHO in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre.
In other WHO contribution: "The World Health Organisation has pledged a sum of six million dollars to support a polio vaccination campaign (http://www.adnki.com/index_2Level.php?cat=Trends&loid=8.0.181450318&par=0) in Iraq, which the Iraqi health ministry has been bringing to all the provinces of the country... [According to ministry spokesman], 'the initial results demonstrate that the first four days of the campaign, had achieved success in 90 percent of the cases, but we hope that in the fifth and sixth day to cover 95 percent of the cases predicted for the first phase, regardless of the difficulties that the medical team has been facing in certain regions because of the ongoing fighting and high temperatures'."

In other recent health news: "On June 22, one of 167 medical clinic projects planned for the country got under way (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jul2005/20050704_1941.html). A $656,000 clinic in the Khanaqin district of Diyala province, in which Baghdad is located, is one of two programmed for construction in the district. Both are now under construction."

Lastly, the southern marshes (http://www.azzaman.com/english/index.asp?fname=news%5C2005-07-05%5C10432.htm) destroyed by Saddam are strongly coming back to life:

Water now inundates 3,350 square kilometers of Iraqi marshes which the former regime had drained and turned into desert, according to the Minister of Water Resources Abdulatif al-Rashid.

In a statement faxed to the newspaper, Rashid said his ministry has completed what he described as “two strategic projects” in the area which made the inundation possible.

Rashid said flooding the area with water was not the only goal of his ministry.

“The ministry is pressing ahead with efforts to reclaim the land, provide water for irrigation and boost agriculture,” he said in the statement.

“The ministry has succeeded in expanding the flooded areas which now form 40% of the southern marshes,” he said.

The news is a major success story for a government embroiled in corruption and a bloody war against mounting insurgent attacks.

Water now flows into scores of small rivers and streams the former regime had either blocked or filled with earth.
HUMANITARIAN AID: USAID is working with the disabled (http://www.usaid.gov/iraq/updates/jun05/iraq_fs35_063005.pdf) in one province (link in PDF):

USAID’s Community Action Program (CAP) partner working in As Sulaymaniyah conducted a ten day workshop for people with disabilities. The training covered two key areas: training of trainers, and advocacy and fundraising for associations of disabled people. Participants included representatives of the disabled community and staff from the CAP partner in the region.

Participants returned to their governorates planning to conduct presentations that would promote the rights of the disabled and demonstrate techniques to include persons with disabilities in the community. These presentations will raise awareness among community leaders and members about the issues disabled people in their community face. Commenting on the benefits of the training, one participant said, “The end of the ten-day training marks the beginning of a lifelong journey.”
Italians (http://www.adnki.com/index_2Level.php?cat=Security&loid=8.0.181540786&par=0)are making a valuable contribution to health system in Baghdad:

As insurgents continue the upsurge in attacks in Baghdad, the Italian hospital there is one of the few foreign hospitals continuing to treat Iraqi citizens, despite the deteriorating security situation and the incidents of foreigners being kidnapped. The hospital director, Dr Donato D'Agostino, of the Italian Red Cross, told Adnkronos International (AKI) that "the organisation was set up in Baghdad in April 2003 with Italian Red Cross employees as well as Iraqi support staff." Since then it has treated 21,000 gravely ill people and 11,000 emergency cases.

The hospital's work is spread over two main sections, one for burn wounds and one for children's illnesses, and also includes an emergency burns unit and a day clinic.

"There are beds for 150 patients a day and another 40-50 burn victims. We have twelve Italian staff and 95 Iraqis, including 60 doctors and nurses," said D'Agostino.
"The hospital, which is completely free, is run along European lines and we have trained Iraqis who will carry on our work when we leave Iraq," he told AKI.
Here's more (http://www.adnki.com/index_2Level.php?cat=Trends&loid=8.0.182949336&par=0) of Italian medical assistance:

A flight carrying a group of 50 Iraqis, including 13 people requiring bone-marrow transplants, their relatives and donors, on Friday left Baghdad for Rome, Italy where they will receive free medical treatment as part of an Italian government-sponsored programme...

During the programme's first phase, Iraqi patients will be treated by the Italy-based Mediterranean Institute of Haematology, while in subsequent phases, Iraqi doctors and other medical workers will receive training in Italy.

In term of the agreement, the Italy will support the creation of bone-marrow transplant facilites at hospitals in Baghdad, Mosul and Nassiriya.
A 14-year old girl (http://www.dailypress.com/news/local/dp-45591sy0jul06,0,3344444.story?coll=dp-news-local-final) continues to receive medical attention in the United States:

Still healing from her second major facial surgery, Eman Hashim will stay in the United States this summer, rather than return to her native Iraq this month, as planned.

The 14-year-old girl, born with a severe facial deformity, will live with a host family in Virginia Beach and will likely have a third surgery in September.

Her father, Khalid, plans to leave for Iraq on July 19 but will come back to Hampton Roads before the next operation, said Lisa Jones, a spokeswoman for Operation Smile. The Norfolk-based nonprofit group has paid for Eman to have surgery here two years in a row.
Every little bit helps (http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?BRD=1211&dept_id=169689&newsid=14833076&PAG=461&rfi=9) as local communities become motivated to help:

Graham Leonard, an East Tennessee native and former Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress, was asked by the Sevier County Democratic Club to share his experiences as an embedded journalist for the Beirut Star for five weeks this past spring. About 100 residents attended the town meeting held at Sevierville Civic Center...

While Leonard was "praising the positive work in Iraq of Tennessee's 278th National Guard," he mentioned in particular the great work the soldiers are doing to help the children of Iraq and their schools.

"Leonard asked if we were sending things to Iraq and said, 'Don't send them candy. Send school supplies - the schools are desperate for basic school supplies,'" said Anderson.

That statement became a call to action for the Democratic Club and its Young Democrats, and within three weeks, a yard sale had been organized to raise funds for the project in a nonpartisan, nonpolitical way...

The money raised bought 11 boxes of notepads, pens, pencils, crayons, markers, modeling clay, scissors, paper, construction paper, dry erase boards, tape and other items.

In addition, Donna and Joey Strickland, local business owners and members of the Democratic Club, personally donated three boxes of inflatable Frisbees, yo-yos and plastic rulers to send.
So you too can make the difference.

US troops in Iraq are overwhelmed by public support for one of their programs:

Task Force Baghdad Soldiers said they have been overwhelmed (http://www.blackanthem.com/News/2005070511.html) and overjoyed by donations Americans have been sending to a program designed to provide school supplies, clothes and toys to Iraqi children.

The Iraqi Schools Program, founded by Maj. Greg Softy in August 2003, is currently being managed by the Soldiers of 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd infantry Division. Softy was the squadron operations officer with 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Armored Division.

Iraqi Schools is a widely-successful program that links the American people at home with an actual neighborhood of Iraqis who need help. The enormous generosity of Americans has allowed 3rd Bn., 7th Inf. Reg., known as the Cottonbalers, to distribute vital school supplies, medical supplies and clothing to local Iraqis in need.

As of May 25, 42,682 packages had been received with 1,013,274 pounds of school supplies, clothing, and toys distributed in the West Rashid area of Baghdad.
There is also help from the neighbor (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/VBOL-6DSG6U?OpenDocument):

Syria has been supplying Iraq with water since mid-June in a show of solidarity with the Iraqi people "who are passing through very delicate circumstances", the state-run al-Thawra newspaper reported Tuesday, quoting Syrian Irrigation Minister Nader al-Buni.

Al-Buni told al-Thawra that Syria has supplied Iraq with 670 million cubic metres of water per second from the Euphrates River over the past two weeks, adding that the supply will continue for the next three months.
THE COALITION TROOPS: The troops continue to collaborate with local authorities (http://www.estripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=30024) to improve the conditions of local residents:

In the midst of rebuilding a nation, local leaders here also want to rebuild their image with their citizens and their potential voters.

Much like U.S. military leaders and supporters of the coalition forces here, Iraqi governors want their residents to read about more than suicide car bombings and watch news coverage that includes more than insurgent terror.

They want them to know they are working to stem the violence while fixing leaking sewer systems, collecting trash and figuring out ways to get more electrical power into cities throughout north-central Iraq.

“We know that terrorism targets everybody,” the governor of Kirkuk province, Abdel Rahman Mostafa, said at a press conference in Baqubah, in neighboring Diyala province. “It concerns a lot of people.”

The governors from Kirkuk, Diyala, Salah Ad Din and Sulimaniyah gathered Saturday for a bi-monthly meeting with U.S. generals whose troops patrol the same provinces. The governors condemned the violence and said they are working together to come up with strategies to beat the insurgents. But they also said they are working hard to collaborate on improvement projects, such as sewage, utility and school renovations.
As the report notes, "in Diyala alone, $207 million has been earmarked for 260 improvement projects ranging from building a hydroelectric dam to buying medical equipment for hospitals to repaving roads, according to Capt. Myers Smith, a project coordinator for the 3rd Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division, which is working with the New York guard in Iraq. A map in Smith’s office shows the hundreds of ongoing projects. Right now, the process of prioritizing, writing specifications, bidding and approving projects is a joint effort by the Americans and the Iraqis, Smith said."

The troops around Balad (http://www.blackanthem.com/TheAllies/2005062509.html) are trying to make a difference in every small way they can, while at the same time preparing the local authorities to take over more responsibilities:

Soldiers from Task Force Liberty are working to improve the way of life for Iraqis while also teaching them to develop reconstruction projects on their own.

Task Force 1-128 is helping local villages to facilitate projects that will aid them in getting clean drinking water, renovating their schools, improving their agriculture and receiving supplies for their medical clinics.

Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry Regiment, Wisconsin Army National Guard and Troop K, 3rd Squadron, 278th Armored Calvary Regiment, Tennessee Army National Guard, make up TF 1-128 and are actively working to train and prepare the local Iraqi security forces and government officials to take control of everyday operations in Iraq...

[Capt. Paul] Shannon said his Soldiers are not conducting large reconstruction projects; they are just trying to improve the villages a little bit at a time.

"It is not much," he said. "I am not building entire schools at this point. I am just fixing roofs that leak, providing fresh water tanks for the children, small things of that nature."

The Soldiers have been helping improve a water treatment plant, the roofs of a school and local clinic, but soon they will be turning these types of missions over to the city council and local security forces, Shannon said.
The troops are also engaged in an ambitious program of health infrastructure construction (http://www.defendamerica.mil/articles/jul2005/a070605dg4.html):

With its infant mortality rate for children under 5 a staggering 14.2 percent and 12.8 percent for children under 12 months old, Iraq needs much more than a temporary solution to its crippling dilemma.

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, these figures have risen sharply since 1991. Now, with the help of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Gulf Region South District (GRS) and the Project and Contracting Office (PCO), 150 new primary health care facilities, of three different types, are being built, with 60 scheduled to be constructed in the southern Iraq, according to Juan Vargas, PCO health program manager.

“This project was coordinated at the Ministry of Health in Baghdad,” said Vargas. “Project sites were based on demographics and needs. The ministry decided which type of clinic they wanted at each location.”

The $80 million program for the 60 southern clinics does not include administrative costs, according to Dr. Shah Alam, GRS program manager. The figure does include program and medical equipment costs.

“The nice thing about it is there is a real need for the clinic program and it feels good to know that something good is coming to the people.”

He said that each clinic would cost about $800 thousand to build, and another $500 thousand in medical equipment costs, bringing the total package for each clinic to $1.4 to $1.5 million.
Again around Balad, troops are working to improve the quality of drinking water (http://www.defendamerica.mil/articles/june2005/a062805la2.html) for the locals:

Turning on the kitchen sink to get a glass of clean water is not an option for Iraqis here, but Task Force Liberty soldiers are helping to change that by bringing fresh water close to their front doors.

The area has palm trees, green grass, fresh crops and a variety of water sources to include canals, lakes and streams, but the villagers still don’t have fresh drinking water. That is why the soldiers from Task Force 1-128 are installing water treatment facilities to turn these non-purified water sources into drinkable water...

[U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Jean] Briggs said they began the project by purchasing four water purification systems for the area and have been working with local Iraqis to run water lines to their homes.

“Task force commanders have been paying locals to lay down pipe from the water tanks and run it along the roads,” Briggs said. “We install spigots in front of each house.”

Providing clean water for the Iraqis is important Briggs said, but they hope someday the Iraqis will get purified running water in their homes.

“It is the best we can do right now,” he said. “It is a quick fix until we get to a point in this whole operation where we can install plumbing directly into the homes, but for them, it is a big step just to have it at the front door.”
Water is also on the mind around Yusifiyah (http://www.noticias.info/asp/aspComunicados.asp?nid=82345&src=0):

The Tigris River is the lifeblood of the Arab J'Bour village and other rural farming communities in Yusufiyah , Iraq . With that in mind, 48th Brigade Combat Team civil affairs Soldiers paid a visit to the Yusufiyah water pumping Station on July 4 to follow up on the progress of military engineering efforts there.

Thousands of families rely on the water supplied by the pumping station. A predominantly farming region, the need for water factors greatly into the community's ability to flourish.

Servicing a vital irrigation reservoir, the pumping station feeds from the only abundant water source, the Tigris River . Maintaining functionality of the pumping station has been challenging...

Initial surveys indicate 12 pumps are needed to supply the region, but current power availability levels only allow eight to operate. The plant has its own generators, but they are old and require constant repairs. Wiring problems are also an issue. A new generator was recently delivered to the site and the 48th BCT has arranged for two more to be delivered by mid-July. This will benefit farming efforts enormously.
As local apricot farmer Hamid says: "I thank you for everything... My dream is to one day visit your country and repay you for all of your kindness, God willing."

In Babil province (http://www.sunherald.com/mld/sunherald/news/local/12050330.htm), soldiers from Task Force 2-11 are helping the locals with a variety of projects to improve local areas:

Six Iraqi flags stand in a room where U.S. Army Lt. Andrew Browne meets with Hadi Bardi Khadum, an Iraqi contractor. For 45 minutes, Lt. Browne and Khadum discuss a project to clean irrigation canals in the North Babil province.

North Babil is a predominantly agricultural province located 30 miles south of Baghdad. Due to a buildup of sediment, vegetation, and pollution, many of North Babil's canals are unsuitable for irrigation.

Browne and Khadum plan to clean nine kilometers of the canals within ten days. Within 30 days, the projects Browne has assisted with will have cleaned over seven times that amount.

Over the course of the conversation, the two men look over a map of North Babil, they review a contract, and they discuss long-term effects of the project for the people of the province. With the assistance of an Iraqi translator, Browne and Khadum agree to a start date.

The meeting marks business as usual for Browne, who serves as Task Force 2-11 Armored Cavalry Regiment's Civil Military Operations (CMO) officer.

The CMO officer ensures projects in Task Force 2-11's area of operations are properly funded. Project funding is supported in-theater as a part of the Commander's Emergency Response Program.
Humanitarian missions (http://www.blackanthem.com/News/2005062701.html) continue, like this one:

On June 24, 2005, soldiers from Headquarters, Charlie Battery and Headquarters Colt Team of the 2nd Battalion 114th Field Artillery, headquartered in Starkville, Miss., commanded by Lt. Col. Gary Huffman, in cooperation with the Iraqi Army, conducted a Medical/Humanitarian Assistance Mission at the Al Talia School near Forward Operating Base Lima in Karbala.

Their mission, designed to provide basic medical and humanitarian assistance to the local population, resulted in the screening, treatment, and referral of approximately 250 people by a medical team that included doctors, nurses, and medics from Iraq and the United States in Karbala. Soldiers distributed 300 bags filled with food, water, and other supplies useful to a family household. During the operation the soldiers cooperated with the Iraqi Army in providing security and quick reaction forces. Prior to the mission they assisted with key planning and coordination that resulted in successful support for the Coalition and Iraqi Army Personnel involved in the effort.
Sometimes humanitarian missions combine (http://www.blackanthem.com/News/2005071001.html) health support with other humanitarian elements:

Soldiers from A Company, 3rd Battalion, 156th Infantry; C Company, 199th Forward Support Battalion; and 1st Battalion, 141st Field Artillery, all of the 256th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division held a medical clinic and distributed supplies at a school in the Hateen area of Baghdad July 5.

Maj. Kathy Champion, from Olympia, Wash., commander of A Co., 448th Civil Affairs Battalion, attached to 256th BCT, is also a physician.

"As long as I’m helping the Iraqi people I’m doing my job, whether I’m serving as a doctor, or as a civil affairs officer," she said...

The event was coordinated by leadership of A Co. 3-156th, and 1st Lt. Jeremy Falanga from Baton Rouge, La., executive officer for the company, said the collaboration of many elements, beginning with the Iraqi population, is what made the day a success.

"We set everything up through the local officials, and they spread the word to the community that we were going to provide medicine and health care today," he said.

He added that another group of Soldiers gave the citizens something to go home with.

"We also had the 1-141st doing Kids for Kids, passing out school supplies, school bags, and toys," said Falanga.

Kids for Kids is a program started in February 2005 by Soldiers from 1-141st FA. It began as a tasking from their higher command which they developed into the website, www.childrenofbaghdad.com (http://www.childrenofbaghdad.com/), asking for clothing, toiletries, and everyday necessities for Iraqi children. The site resulted in thousands of donations from the United States over the past several months, and it will soon expand even more.
This Indiana serviceman is on a mission to help Iraqi children (http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050710/COLUMNISTS02/507100429/1006/NEWS01):

The children had no shoes.

They were running and playing in glass, trash and even sewage, hoping the soldiers in the convoy would toss them a treat.

The sight of their small, bare feet deeply affected U.S. Army Capt. Doug Hedrick, Indianapolis, who was riding from Baqouba to Baghdad in Iraq.

"I sat in silence feeling overwhelmed with how many different ways these children need help," Hedrick said in an e-mail to fellow members of Grace Community Church in Noblesville.

Then it hit him -- what he calls God's intention for his tour of duty. Hedrick, 36, knew he wanted to take part in a humanitarian project. And there it was, as plain as -- shoes. He was going to help supply new shoes for Iraq's kids.

The soldier is a chaplain with a medic team. "Live a Life Worth Living!" is his motto on his e-mails.

Too often, the worthy life and attendant acts of kindness in Iraq are eclipsed by suicide bombers and other horrors. Too often we get only the stories and images that leave us discouraged or terrified.

Not today.

Hedrick's project is "Noah's Shoes." He is fascinated with the biblical story of Noah -- a time when "God decided to give the human race a future hope." The people of Iraq, he said, are in that same place, in a season of new beginnings.
Soldiers continue supporting Iraqi education system. In a southern province, the Army engineers have completed a school reconstruction (http://www.centcom.mil/CENTCOMNews/Stories/06_05/26.htm) program:

Headmasters at three mud schools took charge of their new brick and concrete replacement schools as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Gulf Region Southern District signed the schools over to the education minister in the Babil Province after local laborers completed the three projects May 15.

All three mud school replacement schools boast 12 classrooms instead of the usual six, according to Valerie Schaffner, Buildings, Health and Education project manager for the mud school replacement projects. The usual six-classroom design was geared to smaller rural areas, servicing about 100 students, and the schools in Babil - Yaum Al Huria; Al Masoodi and Al Ma’rij - serve 275, 370 and 590 students respectively.

“The cost was about $160,000 per school,” said Schaffner. “That includes storage space, student and teachers’ bathrooms, electricity for fans, a partially paved playground area and a security fence around the school.”

She added that, because of security risks in the area, no opening day ceremonies were be held. These schools will be getting some new furniture for the teachers and the headmasters’ offices.

Schaffner said that originally, 38 schools mud schools were to be replaced throughout southern Iraq, but that the number has increased to 40.

“We saved enough in negotiations to build two more, which we are now writing contracts for but are not yet advertised,” said Schaffner. “The $4 million program, funded by the Iraq Restoration and Reconstruction Funds, now is paying for 40 new schools, 36 of which are the standard six-classroom design and four – these three in Babil and one more in the Karbala Province – are of the larger, 12-classroom design.”
Meanwhile, Utah National Guardsmen are trying to help Iraqi schoolchildren (http://www.sltrib.com/utah/ci_2839053) and in the process win some young hearts and minds:

The children run along the edge of the road as the trucks rumble by. Hands outstretched, hoping for candy and small toys, they bend their fingers into awkward "thumbs up," "OK" and "V for victory" signs.

Many of Iraq's adults may long ago have grown tired of seeing American troops on their streets, but soldiers in the area of Najaf, about 80 miles south of Baghdad, say the country's children are different.

"Amerikee," the children yell, again and again, whenever they see passing GIs...

"They seem to love the Americans and we need to work with that," said Jolleen Larson, whose husband is a member of the 115th Maintenance Company of the Utah National Guard. "We want them to have more experiences of seeing Americans really trying to help them."

To that end, Larson and other Utah Guard family members have begun to collect supplies for two Najaf-area schools adopted by American soldiers, including many from the 115th.

The schools are small and simple. Built by the British in the 1930s, one was crumbling when the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit came upon it last year. The unit built a new building and furnished it with new desks and blackboards. In their off hours, soldiers like Rusty Larson are now building school furniture - desks for teachers, bookcases and other items specifically requested by the headmaster.
In other similar recent action: "U.S. soldiers from Task Force 1-128 and the Iraqi army took a day off from their normal security patrols June 28 and handed out school supplies, clothes and shoes (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jul2005/20050704_1941.html) in a few small villages during a combat patrol. The soldiers distributed more than 60 boxes of goods containing more than 100 pairs of shoes, assorted clothes and hundreds of pounds of school supplies such as pens, pencils, notebooks and paper to children and families in the villages of Albouhaswa, Ahmed Hajam and Jaafaral Jalaby."

The troops also try to supplement the work (http://www.military.com/NewsContent/0,13319,usaf2_062405.00.html) of the over-stretched and under-resourced Iraqi health system:

As the story goes, a good Samaritan helped an injured stranger along a well-traveled road in the Middle East more than 2,000 years ago.

Today, hundreds of miles farther east, reservists of the 433rd Medical Squadron are working with about 140 Airmen of the 59th Medical Wing at Wilford Hall Medical Center here, Army medics and Australians to help those who need medical care -- friends and strangers alike.

"We see everybody, Iraqi army, coalition soldiers and bad guys," said Col. (Dr.) Russ Turner, the 59th Aeromedical Dental Group commander deployed as commander of the 332nd Expeditionary Medical Group at Balad Air Base, Iraq. "We don't turn anybody away, because there is nowhere to go."
And in public health, the troops are also introducing programs to keep the streets cleaner (http://www.blackanthem.com/TheAllies/2005070101.html):

Along with human waste and other sewage, solid waste has inundated Baghdad’s streets for decades, contributing to sewer backups, disease, and a tainted water supply.

With the establishment of all-Iraqi contracted neighborhood dumpsters, trash collection and removal teams, and trash transfer points, the practice of littering the streets is slowly starting to change.

"We are working with the Iraqi communities to train them on proper trash removal plans," said Lt Col. Jamie Gayton, commander of 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division.

Trash removal was the focal point of essential service support for 1st Cavalry Division when they arrived in Baghdad in 2003, and has continued to be a priority for the 2nd Brigade Combat Team since early this year, Gayton said.
USAID provides grants for cleaning projects. As the report notes, "currently, there are 96 surface cleaning projects ongoing in the 2nd BCT area of operations, employing 6,800 Iraqis. In the second week of June, 946,000 pounds of trash were collected in east Baghdad – 418,000 pounds more than were collected six weeks ago."

The troops are also training Iraqi fire-fighters (http://www.centcom.mil/CENTCOMNews/Stories/06_05/27.htm):

Actions speak louder than words - particularly in Iraq. Such is absolutely the case, every morning, when Baghdad Fire Chief, Laith Abbas, gets out of bed and heads to work.

Each day, he faces the reality that there is a significant “price on his head” by those who would destroy efforts to build a democracy in Iraq. However, for the good of the country, there are those - like this intense, wiry professional - who strive each day, one difficult step at a time, to build their part of what they hope will soon become an active, viable democracy...

Recently, he took a moment from his hectic schedule to view fire fighting training by the teams from seven of Baghdad’s fire stations, representing slightly less than 10% of Baghdad’s total firefighter force. On this sweltering 120 degree afternoon, these activities were being conducted by Staff Sgt. Michael DiDonato, of the 443rd Civil Affairs Battalion in the Government Support Team, of the 3rd Infantry Division. Chief Abbas paused briefly from his “active observation” to note that “before the war, we had only empty fire trucks that did not work and no equipment.” And training in those days? “None,” conveys his rueful expression.

But such is no longer the case. “Sgt. D,” as the Iraqis he teaches fondly call him, cites that over the last nine months nearly 500 of Baghdad’s fire fighters have undergone various aspects of training. Some of the training that he has overseen includes first aid, drivers training, engine driven water pumping, drafting from a water source, advancing a hose line into a blaze, application of fire foam and thermo imaging camera work.
It's not just the American troops. Here's the latest Italian contribution (http://www.adnki.com/index_2Level.php?cat=Security&loid=8.0.183727658&par=0):

An inauguration ceremony has been held to open a bridge built by the Italian contingent in the Dhi Qar governorate in the south of Iraq where the force is based. The iron bridge - which is around 60 metres long and four and a half metres high - crosses a stretch of public water known as 'Saddam's river'.

Ahmad al-Shaykh, the vice governor of Dhi Qar, told Adnkronos International (AKI) at the inauguration ceremony, which was also attended by the commander of the Italian force in Iraq, that "the bridge, built in a remote agricultural area, responds to the needs of farmers, by making it easier for them to sell their produce."

"This project is part of a series of civil initiatives the Italian forces have offered the city in all sectors," he explained. The Italian troops also defused two bombs that had been planted close to where the inauguration ceremony was being held.

The Italian contingent in Iraq has also offered to pay for a green belt of trees which will be planted around the new Dhi Qar University, which is to be built in the western part of Nassiriya. The rector of the university, Riyad Shantah, told AKI: "the green belt will be ten kilometres long and will surround the university buildings to protect them from the dust of the city, which is a particular problem during the summer." He went on to add: "next year the university has decided to open a department for the teaching of the Italian language in the arts faculty and another faculty in the Jabaysh area in the lake district, which will be completely funded and equipped by Italy."
Lastly, not forgetting that the Iraqis themselves contribute in various ways to the Coalition effort, read the story of this Iraqi refugee (http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/0/AF5762FFAD89BB3485257035003306E0?opendocument) who has now returned to his country and works as a translator for the American troops in Fallujah.

SECURITY: Despite the perception of spiralling violence, the official Iraqi count of civilian and security casualties indicates that violence has actually decreased (http://www.news24.com/News24/World/Iraq/0,,2-10-1460_1730516,00.html) in June. While the numbers are still high, "in June, data provided by the Iraqi ministries of defence, health and the interior showed that 430 people had died in attacks and 933 were wounded, a drop of more than one-third from May's death toll of 672 dead. The number of wounded was down by 20%."

There is also some cautious optimism (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,161935,00.html) from military commanders in Iraq:

U.S. and Iraqi forces have "mostly eliminated" the ability of insurgents to conduct sustained, high-intensity attacks in Baghdad, the top U.S. commander in the Iraqi capital said Friday.

Maj. Gen. William G. Webster Jr. said in a video-teleconference interview from Baghdad with reporters at the Pentagon that offensive operations by U.S. and Iraqi troops in recent weeks had sharply reduced the number of insurgent bombings. But he cautioned against concluding that the insurgency has been broken.

"It's very difficult to know it's over," Webster said.

There were 14 to 21 car bombings per week in Baghdad before the May 22 start of the U.S. portion of the latest offensive, dubbed Operation Lightning, he said. That has dropped to about seven or eight a week now, Webster said, attributing the improvement to the disruption of insurgent cells and the availability of more and better intelligence.
There are also indications that terrorists are starting to lose the propaganda war (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4123882.stm) in the Arab media. While the US is still being blamed for the violence, Iraq's suicide bombers are getting increasingly bad press:

Al Jazeera - often accused by the Americans of stirring anti-US feeling - has adopted less of an "Us and Them" approach.

The militants are no longer referred to as the "resistance" but as gunmen or suicide bombers.

Eyewitnesses are shown denouncing them as "terrorists" - condemnations that are echoed by a parade of Iraqi officials and religious authorities.

One recent attack drew this comment from the al-Jazeera reporter: "Most of the time it's civilians who pay the price for the violence that has cost thousands of their lives".

Al-Jazeera's main rival, the Dubai-based al-Arabiya, has also shown little sympathy for the bombers - a recent report, instead, painted a favourable picture of British soldiers patrolling Basra...

In Iraq itself, two of the most widely available channels, al-Iraqiya and al-Sharqiya, have consistently portrayed the suicide bombers as trying to destroy the country rather than liberate it...

Iraqi papers have also increasingly expressed anguish and anger over the civilian toll, with one paper, al-Bayan, recently commenting that " terrorism had exceeded all moral limits".

Another Iraqi paper, al-Dustur, has called on Iraqis to wake up to the fact that they are the targets of terrorism and to unite to fight back against it.

In the wider Arab world, several newspapers have condemned the killings in Iraq - for example, the Saudi al-Jazeera - unconnected to the television channel - said that they were a "black mark on the whole Islamic world".
There are reports of conflict between Iraqis and Al Qaeda fighters - the so-called "red on red" fighting (http://news.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/07/04/wirq04.xml):

American troops on the Syrian border are enjoying a battle they have long waited to see - a clash between foreign al-Qa'eda fighters and Iraqi insurgents.

Tribal leaders in Husaybah are attacking followers of Abu Musab Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born terrorist who established the town as an entry point for al-Qa'eda jihadists being smuggled into the country.

The reason, the US military believes, is frustration at the heavy-handed approach of the foreigners, who have kidnapped and assassinated local leaders and imposed a strict Islamic code.
There are also reports that approaches by people connected with the insurgency to American authorities have doubled (http://today.reuters.co.uk/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2005-07-01T192319Z_01_BAU169782_RTRUKOC_0_IRAQ-INSURGENCY.xml) since the January election.

Meanwhile up north, "for the first time, hundreds of Qayara citizens of Mosul have demonstrated to protest the insurgency (http://www.iwpr.net/archive/ipm/ipm_276.html). More than 1,500 civilians and military personnel from different villages south of Mosul gathered in Qayara city to denounce the insurgency that is overwhelming Iraq. The demonstration comes at the initiative of clerics, Imams, and government officials who feel the necessity to announce their stance against terrorism. They want to prove that most Iraqis oppose terrorism, which will be defeated by the will of Iraqis."

Staff Sergeant Geoff Wagner (http://headlines.agapepress.org/archive/7/62005f.asp) is part of the 155th Armored Brigade of the Mississippi Army National Guard also sees positive trends:

He says thanks to the combined efforts of the American troops and Iraqi military and law enforcement personnel, the number of car bombings and other incidents involving improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are decreasing, and the terrorists are having a hard time finding recruits.

"Over the last two months," Wagner notes, "I can count probably ten terrorists who have blown themselves up trying to set IEDs. They're just not trained, and they're taking quick money, and there are just not enough people to actually perform the job."

Although the terrorist insurgents have been very active in the area where the 155th is deployed, Wagner says because of the activity of the Iraqi Army and the Iraqi police as well as the U.S. soldiers, much of that movement has dissipated since the U.S. troops got there. "Actually, we were taking anywhere from 15 to 20 bombing attacks in a week's time," he notes, "and now it's less than five. So the terrorists are moving out of our area, and they're having a lot of difficulty recruiting."
You can also visit this safest town in Iraq (http://www.azzaman.com/english/index.asp?fname=news%5C2005-07-04%5C10429.htm):

The raging violence and mounting insurgent activities in Baghdad and many other areas make it hard to believe that there is a violence-free spot in Iraq. But thank God there is at least one place with low crime incidence and almost no bombs.

That place is the city of Kut, 100 kilometers south of Baghdad and home to about 500,000 people.

In this city the nascent police forces have almost full authority. It is the place where the rule of law and not the gun prevails.

“We have a high degree of cooperation between the security forces and the citizens,” declared Latif al-Tarfa, the governor of the Province of Wasit of which Kut is the capital.

“I do not say there are no attempts to sow sedition and incite violence in the province but with the help of our residents we have managed to foil all of them,” he added.

“We are proud of our social coexistence which we have enjoyed for decades and would not let that be undermined,” he said.
In Baghdad, paradoxes (http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2002348640_iraqprogress26.html) of security situation:

During a week when insurgents killed at least 15 U.S. soldiers across Iraq, four American soldiers on a foot patrol through the middle-class Karada district of the capital felt secure enough to stop at a kebab stand for shawarma sandwiches, greasy slices of chicken wrapped in pita bread.

"I'm encouraging soldiers to perform more dismounted patrols and to have more face-to-face interactions with Iraqis," said U.S. Army Col. Edward Cardon, commander of a 3rd Infantry Division brigade that covers much of Baghdad. College student Degha Abdul Hamid drove a girlfriend to the lively Zayona commercial strip to shop for shoes and handbags, a previously unheard-of foray for the two single women since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq more than two years ago.

"It's better now, much better," Hamid, 28, said. "I feel safer and I stay out later."

Life these days in Baghdad is paradoxical.

On one hand, the level of bloodshed caused by the insurgency continues to increase. At the same time, with Iraqi police and soldiers maintaining an increased presence on the streets, controlling traffic and fighting everyday crime, many residents say they feel secure enough to attempt to lead more normal lives.
Read the rest of the article; there's plenty interesting anecdotal evidence there.

Speaking of Baghdad, Iraqi soldiers from the 6th Battalion of the 5th Division have now officially taken over (http://www.adnki.com/index_2Level.php?cat=Security&loid=8.0.182811276&par=0) from the American forces the control over security in the so-called "Green Zone", which houses most of the government and administration buildings.

And in Mosul (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jul2005/20050701_1931.html), Army Maj. Gen. David M. Rodriguez, commander of the Multinational Force Northwest, reports that the Iraqi troops are also making progress, with more troops coming onboard from training every month and insurgent attacks decreasing slightly. Meanwhile, "on June 1, in the first move of its kind (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jul2005/20050704_1941.html), coalition forces officially transferred full responsibility for security at a base in Dibbis to the Iraqi army."

Training of Iraqi security forces continues. NATO (http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/IRIN/b35b1d9822c28f9519178bbc2aaa7625.htm)is finally coming onboard to help with this task:

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) has announced the opening of a new training centre in the capital, Baghdad, for Iraqi security forces…

"We have reached a consensus that it will be a better way to serve the Iraqi forces with a better equipped and specialised centre inside the country," NATO spokesman Robert Pszczel said from the Belgian capital, Brussels.

The centre will be located in the Rustmiyah district, southeast of the capital. NATO advisers will be offering training and education on human rights law to Iraqi officer

"We expect that the centre will be fully equipped and ready for work at the end of September and as soon as it starts, it will be training more than 1,000 Iraqi officers annually," Pszczel added…

Sami added that more than 4,000 officers had already been trained by NATO in Iraq or in courses conducted outside the country.
Read this three (http://stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=29127&archive=true)part (http://stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=29959)series (http://www.estripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=29990) about the long and arduous task of building Iraqi security forces from scratch, including the construction of physical infrastructure:

Sonny Sebastian is running ahead of schedule, and he wants to keep it that way.

Sporting an orange hardhat, the 50-year-old Texan ambles from one building to the next to check the progress on the construction of a $16 million academy for the Iraqi Border Police. He talks with a foreman, points here and points there, and then moves on to another supervisor.

Originally scheduled for completion in August, the academy may open next month. Located in Sulaymaniyah in northern Iraq, the 22-building academy will include barracks, a dining hall, classrooms and an armory.

“The key to building in Iraq,” said Sebastian, a project manager for ECC International, a civilian contractor, “is to let them work the way they know how to work, with an emphasis on quality.”

There are hundreds of other major projects for Iraqi security forces that are either completed, in progress or on the drawing board. Of the $5.2 billion already allocated to Iraqi security forces, $1.7 billion has gone toward constructing or improving facilities, said Lt. Col. David Youngberg, an Army comptroller based in Baghdad.
At Forward Operating Base O'Ryan (http://www.defendamerica.mil/articles/june2005/a063005tj1.html) near Balad, "Coalition soldiers are working around the clock to make sure their Iraqi counterparts are ready and capable of protecting Iraq and its citizens":

U.S. soldiers from 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry are helping the country’s soldiers transition into overseeing the missions being conducted in their area of operations.

At the Iraqi army training facility here the soldiers are taught how to set up traffic control points, identify improvised explosive devices and vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, conduct personnel searches, distinguish between insurgents and civilians and how to react to enemy contact.

Task Force 1-128 soldiers from 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry Regiment, Wisconsin Army National Guard and Troop K, 3rd Squadron, 278th Armored Calvary Regiment, Tennessee Army National Guard are conducting the training.

The Iraqi army soldiers are doing well with their training said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. John Macullouch, an instructor with Troop K.

“I don’t feel that they will have any problems taking over the area,” Macullouch said. “We have spent a lot of hours with these guys.”
The latest to join in (http://www4.army.mil/ocpa/read.php?story_id_key=7540) the force:

The Iraqi Army activated its 5th Brigade, 6th Division during a ceremony at Muthana Airfield June 29.

Iraqi soldiers in the eight-week long program received tactical and strategic training to allow them to defend their country against enemy threats...

The brigade, made up of more than 2,500 Iraqi Soldiers, began training April 18 at Muthana Airfield. Soldiers from 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment and Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment worked with the fledgling Iraqi Soldiers.
On the police front, most recently, "the Iraqi Police Service graduated 172 police officers (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/Iraqi+Police+graduate+172+from+advanced+training+c ourses__1111305.html?PHPSESSID=cfb94d4d9ac268ab747 482cbcffcd7b8) from advanced and specialty courses at the Adnan Training Facility July 7... The courses consist of Basic Criminal Investigations with 66 graduates, Critical Incident Management with 30 graduates, First Line Supervision with 25 graduates, Violent Crime Investigation with 31 graduates, and Interview and Interrogation with 20 graduates."

Under the new agreement between the US Attorney-General Alberto Gonzales and Iraqi authorities, FBI and other American law enforcement agencies will help Iraqi police (http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1160401.cms) investigate high-level crimes such as murders and kidnappings, where the local police is lacking sufficient forensic expertise.

There is also training of Iraqi officers (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/Iraqi+Army+leaders+graduate+from+historic+course__ 1111261.html?PHPSESSID=de7c94b4ddde1bb728cd10ae247 5a297):

Soldiers of 2nd Battalion, 1st Iraqi Army Brigade graduated from the first organized Iraqi Army Leadership Training Course at Forward Operating Base Justice.

“This is just another important step forward and another first for this outstanding Iraqi Brigade,” said Brig. Gen. John Basilica, Jr., commander of the 256th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division. “The development of a professional noncommissioned officer (NCO) corps is critical to the combat readiness of the unit.

“This is the first of many courses that will be conducted to train the NCOs of the 1st Iraqi Army Brigade,” Basilica added. “What is especially important is the cadre duties were also shared by the Iraqis and thus their ownership of this program is established from the beginning.”
Benefits of close interaction can go both ways (http://www.usnews.com/usnews/news/articles/050701/01iraq.htm): "An interesting experiment is going on in the northeast corner of this city. Members of the Iraqi Army and the U.S. Marine Corps are sharing living quarters on a small base. The intent of the experiment is to help the Iraqi soldiers learn more. But it has had an unanticipated side effect: Some marines are picking up new skills. Pfc. Mark Britton has learned Arabic."

US Navy (http://www.estripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=29920) will be becoming more involved in the training effort in order to speed it up:

U.S. Navy leaders are ready to pluck more sailors off ships and deploy them to Iraq to bolster U.S. efforts in training Iraqi forces, the chief of the U.S. Navy Reserve said Wednesday.

“Are we going to take some sailors from the sea and put them ashore to answer this call?” Vice Adm. John Cotton said during an interview in Naples on Wednesday. “The answer to that is a resounding yes.”

Last week, Missouri Rep. Ike Skelton, the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, urged Pentagon leaders to add Navy and Air Force members to ground elements in Iraq to speed up training of Iraqi security forces.

“Our NATO partners have promised to lend their efforts to training Iraqi security forces,” Skelton said. “They must get more engaged and soon. We have embedded trainers in transition teams with the Iraqis. We must commit even more trainers to this effort.

“If that means moving more Air Force and Navy personnel to Army billets to free them up for this mission, we need to do this,” Skelton said. “We need to accomplish this mission as quickly as possible because time is not on our side.”

Cotton did not elaborate on when more sailors may be sent to Iraq, but he pointed out that the Navy Reserve already has added cargo handlers to ground missions in Kuwait. And reservists recently trained 450 customs inspectors who are operating in Kuwait and Iraq, Cotton said.
Speaking of navy, the Sector Guardian exercises (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/Iraqi+Navy+qualifies+patrol+boat+officers__1111278 .html?PHPSESSID=71cdb3dfe70a3bcb30b67526f874eacb) have recently tested the readiness of Iraqi Navy to protect oil installations. The exercises were part of qualifications for patrol boat officers. Iraqi coast guard (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/09/international/middleeast/09river.html) is also playing an increasing role on Shatt Al Arab:

The Shatt, as it is commonly called, is also the latest front in the Iraqi government's efforts to police the country's borders. The Iraqi coast guard has been newly reconstituted, with 400 men and 34 boats, most of them donated by the British government. The coast guard's most pressing mission is to fend off pirates and to clamp down on the smuggling of gasoline and scrap metal from Iraq; they also have more banal concerns, such as stemming the flow of Iranian pilgrims trying to cross into Iraq illegally by boat.Lastly, in an overview, you can read the reflections (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jul2005/20050707_1999.html) of Gen. Babakir Shawkat Zebari, chief of staff of the Iraqi Joint Forces, on how much the Iraqi forces have progressed over the course of the past year, and on a more personal note, the profile of one Iraqi soldier, Corporal Arkan Fawaz Mahmood (http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/0/E80E2C647A032847852570380020BCE7?opendocument), stationed outside Fallujah.

Security infrastructure also continues to be built for the Iraqi security forces. The Air Force Center for Environmental Excellence has recently announced the completion of construction of a new $770,000 recruiting center (http://sanantonio.bizjournals.com/sanantonio/stories/2005/06/20/daily38.html) for Iraqi military, police and border patrol officers. "The recruiting center is located in northeast Iraq, near the Kurdish town of Sulaymaniyah. The station will support the U.S.-led Multi-National Security Transition Command in Iraq, which is working to train Iraqis as security forces." Overall, the Center "has awarded $175.9 million in task orders (http://sanantonio.bizjournals.com/sanantonio/stories/2005/06/27/daily29.html) for work in rebuilding Iraq since January of this year. AFCEE has been working to rebuild security and justice facilities in Iraq as well as airports, water systems, military barracks, schools and municipal facilities. The U.S. Air Force and its contractors have made it a point to employ Iraqi workers, including engineers, architects and skilled laborers. Together, they employ between 3,000 and 4,000 Iraqis."

The enormous task of equipping Iraqi army (http://www.estripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=30038) also continues - as this report says, "everything from computers to clean underwear":

Capt. Julius Boyd is a supply officer for an impatient and under-equipped army.

Boyd, 36, of War, W.Va., is tasked with handing out the uniforms, guns, computers, night-vision goggles, trucks and the dozens of other pieces the Iraqi army needs. He’s trying to outfit an entire brigade, more than 3,500 soldiers, with enough gear to fight their own war.

“Come on! Come on! Come on!” he yelled Monday morning at a group of Iraqi soldiers who had come into Forward Operating Base Gabe for their daily pickup. “Move! Move! Move!”

The Iraqis responded, though few spoke English. They’ve learned the routine.

Almost daily, a group of Iraqi soldiers comes with three or four trucks to pick up supplies at Gabe. The soldiers are from the 2nd Brigade of the 5th Division of the Iraqi army, and they live on an adjacent Iraqi base.

Each day, Boyd has his inventory list of serial numbers and quantities to track just how much is going next door. It’s a test to make sure the equipment — all paid for with U.S. money — goes to the right soldiers within the designated units, Boyd said. As a part of an advisory team helping the Iraqis train their army, Boyd tracks the shipments by paperwork, makes the Iraqi officers do the same, then compares the lists.

Here’s a sampling of what Boyd has given out in the past 90 days: 4,430 uniforms, 2,016 helmets, 870 flak jackets, 123 handguns, 26,000 pairs of underwear, four copiers, three ambulances, 141 pairs of binoculars and 451 pairs of running shoes.

“We’re dressing them from top to bottom,” he said.

In all, $5.2 billion has been allotted for training and equipping Iraqi security forces.
The United Arab Emirates are purchasing from Switzerland 180 surplus M113 armored personnel carriers (http://www.swissinfo.org/sen/swissinfo.html?siteSect=111&sid=5910014&cKey=1120066061000) and will be donating them to the Iraqi armed forces.

In stories of increasing security cooperation from Iraqi civilians:

"An Iraqi army unit captured five suspected terrorists (http://www.blackanthem.com/News/2005063002.html) June 28 after an Iraqi citizen told the soldiers about a terrorist safe house in northern Baghdad's Rabi district. The Iraqi soldiers found two rocket-propelled grenade launchers and two RPG rounds in addition to the five suspects." As Lt. Col. Clifford Kent, a Task Force Baghdad spokesman says: "The Iraqi people are tiring of the insurgency. Both hotline and in-person tips have increased greatly... A big reason for the increase in tips is because of the Iraqi soldiers taking the lead during raids and operations. The Iraqis will talk to their own soldiers much more readily than to coalition forces."

Thanks to a tip from a local who led the soldiers to the location, the 116th Armor Regiment has secured the biggest weapons cache (http://www.defendamerica.mil/articles/jul2005/a070105dg1.html) in the Kirkuk province on June 29. Says U.S. Army 1st Lt. John Thew, B Company, 3rd Battalion 116th Brigade Armor Regiment: "We have found in one day, what usually takes four months";

In two separate incidents on June 29 and 30, Iraqi locals have helped the American troops find more than 4,000 pounds of high explosives (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jul2005/20050701_1928.html) located near Kirkuk Air Base;

"An Iraqi citizen’s tip helped Task Force Baghdad Soldiers find and disarm a roadside bomb in east Baghdad before terrorists could use it. The civilian told the Soldier he’d seen a five-gallon gas can (http://www.blackanthem.com/TheAllies/2005070311.html) lying in the median of a major highway at 9:30 a.m. July 2... The team investigated, found a 122-millimeter mortar round wired to a radio, and safely detonated the bomb"; another tip on the same day led soldiers to a suspicious vehicle which turned out to be a car bomb;

"On July 5, an Iraqi citizen told U.S. Task Force Baghdad soldiers he'd seen three men digging holes in the area of a subsequent roadside bomb attack against coalition forces. The man offered to lead the patrol (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jul2005/20050707_1991.html) to the attackers' houses and identify the men. Just before midnight, the soldiers searched two houses in the Risalah district of southern Baghdad and captured three men the Iraqi citizen identified as the men he had seen placing the bombs";

On July 7, a local resident in east Baghdad informed the troops about a roadside bomb. A day later, in two separate incidents also in east Baghdad, Iraqi citizens having observed terrorists placing a roadside bomb tipped off Iraqi police (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jul2005/20050709_2017.html), and provided information leading to an arrest of an illegal weapons dealer;

A civilian walked to the gate on a US base in Baghdad on July 9, and informed and the led the personnel to four unexploded rounds (http://www.blackanthem.com/TheAllies/2005071002.html);

"Task Force Liberty soldiers detained 13 people suspected of making and emplacing improvised explosive devices during a pair of raids in north-central Iraq July 10 and 11. Nine people were detained (http://i-newswire.com/pr35674.html) near Tikrit after soldiers from the 1st Brigade Combat Team received a tip from a civilian. Three of the people tested positive for contact with explosives, and the group was in possession of weapons, ammunition and IED-making materials".

Many security successes don't make the news at all. Iraq the Model blog has performed an invaluable service (http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/2005/06/sorry-for-inconvenience-scroll-down-to.html) of scouring the Iraqi media over a two-day period (25-26 June) to report these:

- 1st regiment/2nd commandoes brigade arrested 43 suspects in Al-Doura district while the 2nd regiment/1st brigade arrested 2 terrorists in Shu'la district.

- The interior ministry announced the beginning of operation lightning-1 in Babil province which is going to be a joint effort between the Army and the local police forces. The 1st wave of raids resulted in arresting 43 suspects and confiscating 10 vehicles used in terror attacks against Iraqi civilians and security forces.

- A force from the Iraqi army backed by Polish troops raided terrorists hides in the areas of Jibla and Rashad in the same province and arrested 8 terrorists and confiscated their Ak-47's.

- Police forces in Kerbala arrested 20 terrorists and confiscated 6 suspicious vehicles and disarmed 2 vehicle-born bombs.

- In Zangora area near Ramadi, Iraqi and American troops arrested a terror cell leader named 'Jbair Grayen Al-Jiblawi who's one of Zarqawi's aides in Anbar province.

- In the north, 3 members of the Ansar Al-Sunna army were captured in Mosul; one of the 3 terrorists carried a Saudi ID.

- In Tikrit, multinational forces arrested 3 roadside bombs-makers and in Kirkuk 10 suspects were arrested. The men are supposed to be responsible for some missile attacks in the city. Explosives' ingredients and blast capsules were found during the search of the arrest scene.

- In Abu Ghraib, Al-Muthana brigade arrested 19 terrorists and found amounts of weapons and detonation devices as well as vehicles that were prepared for performing terror attacks.

- In Al-Kasra neighborhood in Baghdad, IP men and American explosives experts failed an attack with a car bomb that was parked in the heavily crowded main commercial street in the district. A shop keeper was suspicious of a car that was left in front of his shop, the driver claimed that the car broke and that he's going to find a mechanic but the shop keeper didn't believe the story and called the police and it was found later that the car contained a large bomb that was a mix of artillery shells, TNT rods and gas containers. By 1 am, the area was evacuated and people were told to keep a distance from the car. The explosives experts detonated the car in its place as it was impossible to move it away. No casualties happened but there was some inevitable material loss in adjacent shops.

- In Tal-afar near Mosul, Iraqi and American troops killed 15 terrorists in clashes that took place yesterday.

- Police patrols in Dibis town arrested two terrorists while they were trying to plant a roadside bomb on the main street in the town.

- One of the most important successes was arresting one of Izzat Al-Douri's relatives along with 3 of his bodyguards.

- Iraqi TV announced Khalid Sulaiman Darwis (aka Abu Al-Ghadia Al-Soori) was killed during a raid as part of Operation Spear in Anbar province.
In other security successes:

"On June 17, Multi-National Forces in the Baghdad area conducted operations to capture a reported bomber who worked for the Zarqawi, Al-Qaida terrorist network in Iraq. Though the individual in question fled prior to the forces raiding the home, they did seize a substantial weapons cache (http://www.centcom.mil/CENTCOMNews/Stories/06_05/29.htm). Weapons and extremist items found at the home included: two S5K launchers; two S5K modified rounds; five rocket propelled grenades and seven RPG launchers; five PG-7 rounds; four PG-7m rounds; 16 PG-7 propellant charges; 11 AK-47s; more than 50 ammunition magazines; 5,000 rounds of AK-47 ammunition; three RPK machine guns and 5,500 rounds of RPK ammunition; six RGD-5 grenades, and nine AK magazine vests. Most of the weapons were found packed into four large bags. Twelve terrorist 'masks' and various extremist materials were also found at the home. Additionally, Multi-National Forces found a variety of bomb making materials and explosives in the home";

The death in an airstrike outside Qaim of Abdullah al-Rashud, one of the only three out of Saudi Arabia's top 26 most wanted terrorists (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4124446.stm) still at large;

Iraqi and Coalition Forces captured 16 terror suspects (http://www.dcmilitary.com/army/pentagram/10_25/national_news/35557-1.html), seized weapons and foiled bomb attacks against a police station and four other targets in and around Baghdad June Tuesday [21 June]. In northern Iraq. Task Force Freedom troops killed one terrorist and injured another after the two detonated an explosive device that struck a Coalition convoy. Iraqi and Coalition forces also detained five suspects and seized a weapons cache near Mosul;

The capture on June 21 of Muhsin Abu Sayf (http://www.adnki.com/index_2Level.php?cat=Terrorism&loid=8.0.183244204&par=0), a doctor and interprter attached to an Al Qaeda kidnap cell;

The shootout on June 22 in Baghdad's al-Jamaa neighborhood, which left dead five suspected members of Al Qaeda (http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-5094543,00.html) "apparently waiting to carry out suicide bomb attacks";

On 23 June, the total of 91 terrorists and insurgents (http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/2005/06/lightning-thunder-then-rain.html) were arrested throughout the country, including "4 wanted terrorists were captured in Tikrit and other 18 suspects in the north western sector... two IEDs makers were arrested also as well as 7 men suspected of being responsible for assassinating a member of Baghdad's city council.
In Mosul, two significant arrests were made when the security forces captured 2 of [previously captured Al Qaeda leader] Abu Talha's senior aides namely Abu Sarhan and Abu Nabhan who surrendered without any resistance... In Baghdad, 28 suspects were captured by Iraqi soldiers with support from American troops. In Baquba, 2 terrorists attempting to perform an attack with a vehicle loaded with explosives were arrested at an Iraqi army checkpoint south of the city. In Adhamiya, A'amil, Saydiya and Yarmouk neighborhoods in Baghdad, 20 terrorists and suspects were arrested during raids carried out by special forces teams of the interior ministry. In Al-Risala district south of Baghdad, a tip came from an Iraqi civilian lead to the arrest of 8 suspects who fled a spot from which the interior ministry complex was attacked. This arrest was done by task force Baghdad";

A concerted assault against a police station in Bagdad, involving 100 insurgents, beaten back (http://www.guardian.co.uk/print/0,3858,5223124-103550,00.html) by the Iraqi police on June 24, with 10 insurgents killed and 40 captured. "By 6.30am a police machine-gunner on the roof at Baya'a helped turn the tide, firing volleys which forced attackers to take cover and enabled his comrades to take better positions. Residents of the mixed Shia and Sunni neighbourhood made at least 55 phone calls informing the police of insurgent movements. Some fired on the attackers";

Six suspected members of a rocket cell (http://i-newswire.com/pr27283.html) arrested by Iraqi police in Kirku on June 25;

The arrest outside of Mosul on June 26 of Hilal Hussein al-Badrani (http://news.webindia123.com/news/showdetails.asp?id=91593&n_date=20050626&cat=World), the Saudi-born leader of the major Al Qaeda affiliate in Iraq, Ansar al-Sunna;

The arrest on 27 June of one of the senior Al Qaeda figures, Sami Ammar Hamid Mahmud (http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/D0A0E134-9BE9-436E-9308-33C63ED47B2F.htm), also known as Abu Aqil, thought to be responsible for kidnapping foreigners and Iraqis;

On June 28, soldiers in Baghdad followed 200 meters of a detonation cord (http://www.blackanthem.com/News/2005063002.html) from the site of an explosion to a nearby house and arrested seven men inside who were acting suspiciously. On the same day, near another blast site, another man was caught with $1,000 in sequential bills;

"Iraqi security forces detained eight suspected terrorists (http://www.blackanthem.com/News/2005063002.html) June 29 in eastern Baghdad during combined operations... Seven of the suspects were found with material used for the production and emplacement of roadside bombs. One had false Palestinian documents";

"Task Force Baghdad Soldiers captured nine terror suspects (http://www.blackanthem.com/TheAllies/2005070103.html), seized a weapons cache and disabled terrorist bombs before they could be set off during operations in and around Baghdad June 29";

"Task Force Liberty soldiers found and destroyed eight different caches (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jul2005/20050701_1928.html) in Kirkuk province June 29 and 30. Several hundred artillery and mortar rounds of various sizes were destroyed in the operation. Unexploded ordnance was found at several different locations around Kirkuk, including 162 130 mm rounds, 141 122 mm rounds, 100 152 mm rounds, 91 120 mm rounds and 26 82 mm rounds":

In the last few days of June, "US-led forces detained more than a dozen suspected militants (http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticle.asp?xfile=data/focusoniraq/2005/June/focusoniraq_June204.xml&section=focusoniraq) in a counterinsurgency sweep through the western Anbar province as part of a sustained effort to disrupt the flow of foreign fighters to Iraq... The raids have also netted several hundred mortar and artillery rounds along with explosives, rifles and two roadside bombs"; overall (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05182/531470.stm), 45 suspects were arrested (including forigners) and thousands of pounds of explosives seized;

"Multinational forces from 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team), detained 12 suspected terrorists (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jul2005/20050701_1928.html) and seized weapons in Mosul, Iraq, June 30"; nine more suspects (http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/aplocal_story.asp?category=6420&slug=Iraq%20Arrests) captured over the next two days;

The lockdown (http://www.estripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=30139) in late June of Buhriz, a town of 57,000, northwest of Baghdad, to ferret out the insurgents; more than two dozen suspects were detained and enough explosives confiscated to construct 160 car bombs;

"Iraqi Security Forces captured seven terror suspects (http://www.blackanthem.com/TheAllies/2005070202.html) June 30, all of whom are thought to be involved in plotting or carrying out attacks against Iraqi Police stations in central and south Baghdad";

"Iraqi Security Forces from the 1st Battalion, 1st Brigade, 1st Division and Coalition forces from the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, uncovered seven weapons caches, a car-bomb factory and a roadside bomb making factory (http://i-newswire.com/pr34657.html) late afternoon on June 30 in the Industrial area, northeast of the Saddam Mosque during a patrol to disrupt terrorist activity... The Iraqi Soldiers discovered the car-bomb factory with a vehicle rigged with explosives at an automotive repair shop in Ramadi. A bomb-making factory was located at a second location with 45 fully prepared roadside bombs inside";

On 1 July, American troops operating outside the town in Hit in western Anbar province defused 9 roadside bombs (http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2005-07-01-iraq-defused_x.htm) and arrested 10 suspects; "Some Marines took some time out to e-mail family and friends from an Internet room at the school where the trigger wires for the roadside bombs were found";

Three weapons caches (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jul2005/20050702_1934.html) discovered by Task Force Baghdad soldiers on an island along the Tigris River near the city's Al Rashid district on July 1; another two caches uncovered the same day in Al Rashid itself and in Abu Ghraib;

On 2 July, "soldiers of 1st Battalion, 155th Infantry, 155th Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), caught and detained three people (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jul2005/20050702_1935.html) suspected of emplacing improvised explosive devices northeast of Musayyib today. A patrol spotted a cordless phone with wires protruding from it in a hole in the road, military officials said. Explosive ordnance disposal team members discovered two 130 mm artillery rounds wired to a long-range cordless phone. The soldiers saw three people lying in a field nearby and detained them for questioning";

The capture on 2 July of one of Al Zarqawi's top aides, Abdul Hamid Mustafa al-Douri, the head of Al Qaeda in Salahudin province (http://www.newkerala.com/news.php?action=fullnews&id=4622); "Douri, a relative to Saddam Hussein's top aide Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri and a former engineer in Tikrit municipality, was suspected to be behind several car bombings on the Iraqi police and army";

"Iraqi Soldiers from Alpha Company, 4th Battalion, 1st Iraqi Army Brigade foiled a terrorist car bomb attack (http://www.blackanthem.com/TheAllies/2005070407.html) while patrolling in the Ameriyah district of west Baghdad at around 6:00 p.m. July 3"; on the same day, Iraqi police successfully fought off an attack on a police station, capturing a quantity of weapons and munitions in the process;

Forty suspects (http://www.blackanthem.com/TheAllies/2005070406.html) detained in a joint raid by Task Force Baghdad and Iraqi Army soldiers on July 3 in a area south of Yusufiyah;

"U.S. and Iraqi troops swept through a western Baghdad neighborhood on Monday, arresting about 100 suspected insurgents (http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-5118097,00.html) in a fresh crackdown near the city's airport" over the Fourth of July weekend;

"Task Force Baghdad Soldiers detained a suspected terrorist caught red-handed (http://www.blackanthem.com/TheAllies/2005070408.html) trying to detonate a roadside bomb, and captured two terror suspects trying to avoid a traffic control point in early morning operations July 4";

On July 4, a weapons cache (http://www.blackanthem.com/News/2005070403.html) was seized by the US troops in a house west of Risalah; stupidly (http://www.centcom.mil/CENTCOMNews/News_Release.asp?NewsRelease=20050703.txt) for the insurgents, the find was a result of a random knock-and-search operation and the house in question attracted attention because of the anti-Coalition writing on its walls;

One insurgent killed while attempting to place a road-side bomb in Tal Afar and five suspects arrest (http://www.blackanthem.com/TheAllies/2005070501.html) in Mosul on 4 July;

"Iraqi army soldiers detained 152 suspected terrorists (http://www.blackanthem.com/TheAllies/2005070505.html) July 4 during search operations in Baghdad. Coalition soldiers assisted the 3rd Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, in the early morning operation. Six Egyptians were among foreign fighters detained, officials said. Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, detained two people suspected of terrorist activity July 4at a checkpoint in eastern Mosul. Iraqi police discovered an anti-aircraft missile system near Diwaniyah on July 4. An Iraqi explosive ordnance disposal team and a coalition quick-reaction force removed the device, described as a portable, shoulder-launched, low-altitude SA-7A missile system";

Two weapons caches (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jul2005/20050706_1981.html) uncovers in western Abu Ghraib district on July 1 and 4;

"Terrorists fired upon Iraqi soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, patrolling in Abu Ghraib around 7:30 p.m. July 5. The Iraqi unit fought back and detained 12 of the attackers (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jul2005/20050707_1991.html). The soldiers positively identified one of the men as a known bomb manufacturer";

"U.S. and Iraqi soldiers conducted a cordon-and-search mission in the early-morning hours of July 6 to search for terrorist cells in western Baghdad... The result was the capture of seven detainees (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jul2005/20050707_1991.html), five AK-47 assault rifles, two pistols, up to 20 fully loaded magazines, and assorted weaponry and documents, including material for making identification badges for U.S. contractor Kellogg Brown & Root, and possible imagery maps of the area. Not long after the first detainee was positively identified, he provided intelligence of a nearby meeting site. Upon searching the specified location, forces arrested a man and a woman who were making false KBR badges";

On July 7, Iraqi and Task Force Freedom soldiers killed one terrorist and detained 24 suspects (http://www4.army.mil/ocpa/read.php?story_id_key=7558) during operations in Mosul; they also killed another one and detained further 16 suspects around Tal Afar;

"On July 7, Iraqi police patrolling in Baghdad's Ghazaliyah area stopped a suspected vehicle-borne IED carrying three suspected terrorists (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jul2005/20050709_2017.html)"; before the car could detonate, all three terrorist were killed in gunfire. "One compound guard reported he'd seen one terrorist trying to trigger a detonation device before being shot. Upon closer inspection of the vehicle, police discovered four 55-gallon drums connected to the car battery. The drums contained 600 pounds of homemade explosives";

"U.S. Marines said on Saturday [9 July] they had launched a new counter-insurgency operation, the latest in a series of sweeps designed to root out militant bases in Iraq's Euphrates valley. Operation Scimitar (http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=worldNews&storyID=2005-07-09T143330Z_01_N09431243_RTRIDST_0_INTERNATIONAL-IRAQ-DC.XML) involved about 500 U.S. troops and 100 Iraqis, making it about half the scale of Operation Sword and Operation Spear in the past three weeks. The military said the Marines had detained 22 suspected militants since the raid was launched in secret in the village of Zaidon 30 km (20 miles) southeast of Falluja on Thursday";

On July 9 in Baghdad, American and Iraqi security forces defused explosives (http://www.blackanthem.com/TheAllies/2005071002.html) outside the Kuwaiti embassy, arrested five suspects in Abu Ghraib district and one wanted terrorist in the business district, and disabled four roadside bombs;

"Kurdish security officials said Sunday [10 July] they had arrested suspects from six different terrorist groups (http://www.noticias.info/asp/aspComunicados.asp?nid=82341&src=0) that they believe help form wide insurgent training and support networks inside Iraq and have links with international terrorist organizations";

Two suspects arrested in a terrorist safe house in Abu Ghraib district of Baghdad on July 10; more suspects arrested while staking out (http://www.noticias.info/asp/aspComunicados.asp?nid=82784&src=0) and photographing a checkpoint; and a major bomb defused in central Baghdad;

Fourteen insurgents (http://www.politinfo.com/articles/article_2005_07_11_1826.html) killed by the US Army in two separate incidents in northern Iraq on July 10 and 11;

Thirteen individuals (http://www.noticias.info/asp/aspComunicados.asp?nid=82782&src=0) suspected of involvement in making and placing roadside bombs arrested in and around Tikrit on July 10 and 11;

The capture of Abu Abd Al-Aziz, Al Zarqawi's number one man in Baghdad (http://today.reuters.com/news/NewsArticle.aspx?type=worldNews&storyID=2005-07-13T003657Z_01_N12600652_RTRIDST_0_INTERNATIONAL-IRAQ-USA-CAPTURE-DC.XML), on July 11.

Psychiatrist Graham W. Hoffman (http://www.harvardmagazine.com/on-line/070529.html) joined the Army Reserve after September 11 and has completed his second tour in Iraq, “treating mostly 20-something First Infantry Division soldiers (and some Iraqis, too) for post traumatic stress disorder." Says Hoffman: "The Iraqi civilians were very nice to us again, even though Samarra had a lot of insurgents for much of my time there. And the kids love us, especially the little girls, who seem to feel all this democratic change will be good for them in particular. The whole ‘mission’ is starting to feel like Peace Corps work, albeit you still have to be well armed. I am a political left-winger on most things, but on the Middle East business I think we are doing the right thing, mainly because that’s what all these Iraqi civilians kept telling me. Not sure why you don’t hear that kind of stuff on the media, except that most civilians there would consider it suicide to say good things about Americans on-camera.”

Iraqi people are slowly regaining their freedom - and their voice. It's their Fourth of July, too.

July 26th, 2005, 06:39 AM
Wow. What a long read.

...I'll save it for later.

July 26th, 2005, 06:52 AM
Yeah, that place sure is another Viet Nam. ;)

July 26th, 2005, 09:21 AM
Not so good news....

Proposed chapter for Iraq's constitution likely to anger women

Associated Press
Jul. 26, 2005 07:30 AM

BAGHDAD, Iraq - A part of Iraq's draft constitution obtained by The Associated Press gives Islam a major role in Iraqi civil law, raising concerns that women could lose rights in marriage, divorce and inheritance.

The proposal also appears to rule out non-governmental militias, an area addressed Monday by U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad. Urging Iraqis to build national institutions, he said there is no place for factional forces that "build the infrastructure for a future civil war."

The civil law section, one of six to make up Iraq's new charter, covers the rights and duties of citizens and public and private freedoms. The language is not final, but members of the drafting committee said there was agreement on most of its wording. advertisement

Committee members have been rushing to complete the constitution so the Iraqi National Assembly can set the final wording by Aug. 15. Parliament's version would be put to a public vote by mid-October, and if approved, elections would follow by year's end.

The drafting panel's efforts got a boost Monday when its 12 Sunni Arab members ended a boycott, easing fears the document might be rejected by the ethnic community at the heart of the insurgency.

Sunni Arab support is crucial because the charter can be scuttled if voters in three of Iraq's 18 provinces reject it by a two-thirds majority - and Sunni Arabs are a majority in four provinces. Sunni Arabs make up about 20 percent of Iraq's 27 million people but dominate areas where the insurgency is raging.

A Sunni member of the constitutional commission, Saleh al-Mutlaq, told AP he and his 11 colleagues agreed to resume work after receiving government assurances that their grievances would be addressed.

Those concerns included better security after last week's assassination of two colleagues, which triggered the boycott, and for an expanded role for the Sunni Arab minority in the constitutional deliberations.

On Tuesday, Iraq's most feared terrorist group warned Sunni Arabs against taking part in the October referendum on the constitution, saying their participation would make them infidels - and therefore subject to the same treatment as occupation forces.

In a statement posted on the Internet, al-Qaida in Iraq slammed recent calls by some Sunni leaders encouraging the religious minority, which forms the core of the insurgency, to get involved in the political process.

Another Internet statement purportedly from the terror group said its "court" decided Monday to kill two Algerian diplomats kidnapped last week in Baghdad, but there was no word on whether the threat had been carried out against Ali Belaroussi and Azzedine Belkadi.

"This will be the fate of the other diplomats and representatives of the rest of the infidel governments. There is no fate for them except being killed," said the statement, which was posted and signed by Abu Maysara al-Iraqi, the al-Qaida spokesman.

Al-Qaida's attacks on those and other diplomats appear aimed at isolating Iraq's government from its neighbors as the leadership tries to make progress in political efforts and reach a consensus on the constitution.

Most worrying for women's groups has been the section on civil rights, which some believe would significantly roll back women's rights under a 1959 civil law enacted by a secular regime.

In the copy obtained by the AP on Monday, Article 19 of the second chapter says "the followers of any religion or sect are free to choose their civil status according to their religious or sectarian beliefs."

Shiite Muslim leaders have pushed for a stronger role for Islam in civil law but women's groups argue that could base legal interpretations on stricter religious lines that are less favorable toward women.

Committee members said they had taken account of women's concerns but were not planning to make changes, since the National Assembly will have final say on the wording.

Committee member Khudayer al-Khuzai said Muslims would be free to choose which Islamic sect they want to be judged by under the proposed civil law.

"We will not force anyone to adopt any sect at all. People are free to choose the sect they see as better or more legitimate. This is implemented in marriage, inheritance and all civil rights," he said.

Not all Shiite laws are disadvantageous for women. Many Sunni Muslims who have only daughters prefer to follow Shiite religious law when it comes to inheritance, since daughters inherit everything their parents leave. Under Sunni rules, daughters have to share their inheritance with uncles, aunts and grandparents.

While not specifically addressing militias, the draft chapter would permit Iraqis to form only political parties and would ban individuals from possessing weapons.

"There is no place for militias," said al-Khuzai, a Shiite. "We have even made it clear for non-governmental organizations that they should not have any secret or military activities."

Earlier Monday, Khalilzad spoke against militias - a clear signal to groups in Iraq's dominant Shiite Arab and Kurdish communities that have maintained armed groups.

Khalilzad, who took up his ambassador's post over the weekend, said the U.S. government believes Iraqis must focus on building strong national institutions.

"Regarding the militias, of course, our position is clear," he said. "We don't want to do anything that creates longer term problems for Iraq in terms of the problem of warlordism or the problem of building an infrastructure for a future civil war."

In other areas, the chapter obtained by AP would make the judiciary independent, require public trials, ban torture and require a judicial order to detain anyone. Child labor, which flourished in the 1990s after the United Nations imposed sanctions on Iraq, would be banned.

In other developments Tuesday:

• Two gunmen in a speeding car assassinated a top aide to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, police said in Baqouba, a religiously mixed city northeast of Baghdad.

• In Baghdad, gunmen fatally shot a police officer as he was driving from his home in the Shiite enclave of Sadr City, and a Health Ministry employee was shot multiple times during a morning attack in the eastern suburb of Maamil.

• Gunmen in southern Basra attacked a police patrol, killing a policeman and a civilian.

• U.S. troops exchanged fire with insurgents near the provincial government building in Ramadi, 70 miles west of Baghdad, witnesses said. There were no reports of casualties.

• The Iraqi government complained again that Syria is not doing enough to stop extremists from crossing the border to carry out attacks in Iraq. Syria insists it is doing all it can to stop infiltration by militants.

Dback Jon
July 26th, 2005, 09:34 AM
So women in Iraq will have less rights under the new government than they did under Saddam?? :shrug:

July 26th, 2005, 09:41 AM
Not so good news....

Proposed chapter for Iraq's constitution likely to anger women

Associated Press
Jul. 26, 2005 07:30 AM

BAGHDAD, Iraq - A part of Iraq's draft constitution obtained by The Associated Press gives Islam a major role in Iraqi civil law, raising concerns that women could lose rights in marriage, divorce and inheritance.

The proposal also appears to rule out non-governmental militias, an area addressed Monday by U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad. Urging Iraqis to build national institutions, he said there is no place for factional forces that "build the infrastructure for a future civil war."

The civil law section, one of six to make up Iraq's new charter, covers the rights and duties of citizens and public and private freedoms. The language is not final, but members of the drafting committee said there was agreement on most of its wording. advertisement

Committee members have been rushing to complete the constitution so the Iraqi National Assembly can set the final wording by Aug. 15. Parliament's version would be put to a public vote by mid-October, and if approved, elections would follow by year's end.

The drafting panel's efforts got a boost Monday when its 12 Sunni Arab members ended a boycott, easing fears the document might be rejected by the ethnic community at the heart of the insurgency.

Sunni Arab support is crucial because the charter can be scuttled if voters in three of Iraq's 18 provinces reject it by a two-thirds majority - and Sunni Arabs are a majority in four provinces. Sunni Arabs make up about 20 percent of Iraq's 27 million people but dominate areas where the insurgency is raging.

A Sunni member of the constitutional commission, Saleh al-Mutlaq, told AP he and his 11 colleagues agreed to resume work after receiving government assurances that their grievances would be addressed.

Those concerns included better security after last week's assassination of two colleagues, which triggered the boycott, and for an expanded role for the Sunni Arab minority in the constitutional deliberations.

On Tuesday, Iraq's most feared terrorist group warned Sunni Arabs against taking part in the October referendum on the constitution, saying their participation would make them infidels - and therefore subject to the same treatment as occupation forces.

In a statement posted on the Internet, al-Qaida in Iraq slammed recent calls by some Sunni leaders encouraging the religious minority, which forms the core of the insurgency, to get involved in the political process.

Another Internet statement purportedly from the terror group said its "court" decided Monday to kill two Algerian diplomats kidnapped last week in Baghdad, but there was no word on whether the threat had been carried out against Ali Belaroussi and Azzedine Belkadi.

"This will be the fate of the other diplomats and representatives of the rest of the infidel governments. There is no fate for them except being killed," said the statement, which was posted and signed by Abu Maysara al-Iraqi, the al-Qaida spokesman.

Al-Qaida's attacks on those and other diplomats appear aimed at isolating Iraq's government from its neighbors as the leadership tries to make progress in political efforts and reach a consensus on the constitution.

Most worrying for women's groups has been the section on civil rights, which some believe would significantly roll back women's rights under a 1959 civil law enacted by a secular regime.

In the copy obtained by the AP on Monday, Article 19 of the second chapter says "the followers of any religion or sect are free to choose their civil status according to their religious or sectarian beliefs."

Shiite Muslim leaders have pushed for a stronger role for Islam in civil law but women's groups argue that could base legal interpretations on stricter religious lines that are less favorable toward women.

Committee members said they had taken account of women's concerns but were not planning to make changes, since the National Assembly will have final say on the wording.

Committee member Khudayer al-Khuzai said Muslims would be free to choose which Islamic sect they want to be judged by under the proposed civil law.

"We will not force anyone to adopt any sect at all. People are free to choose the sect they see as better or more legitimate. This is implemented in marriage, inheritance and all civil rights," he said.

Not all Shiite laws are disadvantageous for women. Many Sunni Muslims who have only daughters prefer to follow Shiite religious law when it comes to inheritance, since daughters inherit everything their parents leave. Under Sunni rules, daughters have to share their inheritance with uncles, aunts and grandparents.

While not specifically addressing militias, the draft chapter would permit Iraqis to form only political parties and would ban individuals from possessing weapons.

"There is no place for militias," said al-Khuzai, a Shiite. "We have even made it clear for non-governmental organizations that they should not have any secret or military activities."

Earlier Monday, Khalilzad spoke against militias - a clear signal to groups in Iraq's dominant Shiite Arab and Kurdish communities that have maintained armed groups.

Khalilzad, who took up his ambassador's post over the weekend, said the U.S. government believes Iraqis must focus on building strong national institutions.

"Regarding the militias, of course, our position is clear," he said. "We don't want to do anything that creates longer term problems for Iraq in terms of the problem of warlordism or the problem of building an infrastructure for a future civil war."

In other areas, the chapter obtained by AP would make the judiciary independent, require public trials, ban torture and require a judicial order to detain anyone. Child labor, which flourished in the 1990s after the United Nations imposed sanctions on Iraq, would be banned.

In other developments Tuesday:

• Two gunmen in a speeding car assassinated a top aide to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, police said in Baqouba, a religiously mixed city northeast of Baghdad.

• In Baghdad, gunmen fatally shot a police officer as he was driving from his home in the Shiite enclave of Sadr City, and a Health Ministry employee was shot multiple times during a morning attack in the eastern suburb of Maamil.

• Gunmen in southern Basra attacked a police patrol, killing a policeman and a civilian.

• U.S. troops exchanged fire with insurgents near the provincial government building in Ramadi, 70 miles west of Baghdad, witnesses said. There were no reports of casualties.

• The Iraqi government complained again that Syria is not doing enough to stop extremists from crossing the border to carry out attacks in Iraq. Syria insists it is doing all it can to stop infiltration by militants.

What.... no attaboy. Surely the above post must be lies. Lets just go back to all the bad news. Now I see why media only reports bad news. No one wants to accept good news. :rolleyes:

I am not trying to pick on you UncleChris it just chaps my ass that most people can't accept there is some good going on.

July 26th, 2005, 09:53 AM
Not so good news....

LOL perfect example backing up what I was saying on the other thread. Also yet another reason why the left isnt taken seriously anymore.

What makes it even worse is that UC has no idea what Im referring too. :biglaugh:

July 26th, 2005, 10:10 AM
Not so good news....

Proposed chapter for Iraq's constitution likely to anger women

Associated Press
Jul. 26, 2005 07:30 AM

BAGHDAD, Iraq - A part of Iraq's draft constitution obtained by The Associated Press gives Islam a major role in Iraqi civil law, raising concerns that women could lose rights in marriage, divorce and inheritance.

The proposal also appears to rule out non-governmental militias, an area addressed Monday by U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad. Urging Iraqis to build national institutions, he said there is no place for factional forces that "build the infrastructure for a future civil war."

The civil law section, one of six to make up Iraq's new charter, covers the rights and duties of citizens and public and private freedoms. The language is not final, but members of the drafting committee said there was agreement on most of its wording. advertisement

Committee members have been rushing to complete the constitution so the Iraqi National Assembly can set the final wording by Aug. 15. Parliament's version would be put to a public vote by mid-October, and if approved, elections would follow by year's end.

The drafting panel's efforts got a boost Monday when its 12 Sunni Arab members ended a boycott, easing fears the document might be rejected by the ethnic community at the heart of the insurgency.

Sunni Arab support is crucial because the charter can be scuttled if voters in three of Iraq's 18 provinces reject it by a two-thirds majority - and Sunni Arabs are a majority in four provinces. Sunni Arabs make up about 20 percent of Iraq's 27 million people but dominate areas where the insurgency is raging.

A Sunni member of the constitutional commission, Saleh al-Mutlaq, told AP he and his 11 colleagues agreed to resume work after receiving government assurances that their grievances would be addressed.

Those concerns included better security after last week's assassination of two colleagues, which triggered the boycott, and for an expanded role for the Sunni Arab minority in the constitutional deliberations.

On Tuesday, Iraq's most feared terrorist group warned Sunni Arabs against taking part in the October referendum on the constitution, saying their participation would make them infidels - and therefore subject to the same treatment as occupation forces.

In a statement posted on the Internet, al-Qaida in Iraq slammed recent calls by some Sunni leaders encouraging the religious minority, which forms the core of the insurgency, to get involved in the political process.

Another Internet statement purportedly from the terror group said its "court" decided Monday to kill two Algerian diplomats kidnapped last week in Baghdad, but there was no word on whether the threat had been carried out against Ali Belaroussi and Azzedine Belkadi.

"This will be the fate of the other diplomats and representatives of the rest of the infidel governments. There is no fate for them except being killed," said the statement, which was posted and signed by Abu Maysara al-Iraqi, the al-Qaida spokesman.

Al-Qaida's attacks on those and other diplomats appear aimed at isolating Iraq's government from its neighbors as the leadership tries to make progress in political efforts and reach a consensus on the constitution.

Most worrying for women's groups has been the section on civil rights, which some believe would significantly roll back women's rights under a 1959 civil law enacted by a secular regime.

In the copy obtained by the AP on Monday, Article 19 of the second chapter says "the followers of any religion or sect are free to choose their civil status according to their religious or sectarian beliefs."

Shiite Muslim leaders have pushed for a stronger role for Islam in civil law but women's groups argue that could base legal interpretations on stricter religious lines that are less favorable toward women.

Committee members said they had taken account of women's concerns but were not planning to make changes, since the National Assembly will have final say on the wording.

Committee member Khudayer al-Khuzai said Muslims would be free to choose which Islamic sect they want to be judged by under the proposed civil law.

"We will not force anyone to adopt any sect at all. People are free to choose the sect they see as better or more legitimate. This is implemented in marriage, inheritance and all civil rights," he said.

Not all Shiite laws are disadvantageous for women. Many Sunni Muslims who have only daughters prefer to follow Shiite religious law when it comes to inheritance, since daughters inherit everything their parents leave. Under Sunni rules, daughters have to share their inheritance with uncles, aunts and grandparents.

While not specifically addressing militias, the draft chapter would permit Iraqis to form only political parties and would ban individuals from possessing weapons.

"There is no place for militias," said al-Khuzai, a Shiite. "We have even made it clear for non-governmental organizations that they should not have any secret or military activities."

Earlier Monday, Khalilzad spoke against militias - a clear signal to groups in Iraq's dominant Shiite Arab and Kurdish communities that have maintained armed groups.

Khalilzad, who took up his ambassador's post over the weekend, said the U.S. government believes Iraqis must focus on building strong national institutions.

"Regarding the militias, of course, our position is clear," he said. "We don't want to do anything that creates longer term problems for Iraq in terms of the problem of warlordism or the problem of building an infrastructure for a future civil war."

In other areas, the chapter obtained by AP would make the judiciary independent, require public trials, ban torture and require a judicial order to detain anyone. Child labor, which flourished in the 1990s after the United Nations imposed sanctions on Iraq, would be banned.

In other developments Tuesday:

• Two gunmen in a speeding car assassinated a top aide to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, police said in Baqouba, a religiously mixed city northeast of Baghdad.

• In Baghdad, gunmen fatally shot a police officer as he was driving from his home in the Shiite enclave of Sadr City, and a Health Ministry employee was shot multiple times during a morning attack in the eastern suburb of Maamil.

• Gunmen in southern Basra attacked a police patrol, killing a policeman and a civilian.

• U.S. troops exchanged fire with insurgents near the provincial government building in Ramadi, 70 miles west of Baghdad, witnesses said. There were no reports of casualties.

• The Iraqi government complained again that Syria is not doing enough to stop extremists from crossing the border to carry out attacks in Iraq. Syria insists it is doing all it can to stop infiltration by militants.

The title of this article is unbelievable. They only have one line in there about women's rights and all it says is that they are free to choose their civil status according to their religious or sectarian beliefs.

The whole rest of the article deals with the different factions not be allowed to have their own militias. Is that not a good thing? Talk about looking for negatives.

July 26th, 2005, 04:35 PM
Someone could write a million positive words and it's just words.

The real truth of it wont be known til we leave them to fend for themselves then we will see what happens.

We choose to fight for our freedoms, we died for it, we earned it.

These people didn't see fit to throw off a regime like Saddam and yet we think they can handle democracy?

We got mad about tea tax and started kicken some arse, they let rape gangs, gassing and general mahem go and didn't stop it.

What I'm saying here is that there are two sides to the story sure, there are positive things in Iraq, I acknowledge that, there were positive things in Vietnam done by our troops there too.

This is not Vietnam, the opposition is not that organized or well trained or funded so in that sense the whole comparison fails.

What dosen't fail though is a dismal record of fledgling democracy's that didn't earn it themselves.

Their constitution is heading towards funamentalist doctrine at a high rate of speed because that provides stability, rigid control is the answer to anarchy that they have now.

It's natural and it's a whale of a tendancy to just say piff it's gonna be ok.

July 27th, 2005, 05:14 AM
lol...someone just pointed out that I just set a record fer the longest post in ASFN history...no I didn't type it - it was a cutnpaste job gone wild.

Apparently the initial post is equivalent to 42 pages (with standard Word margins); 20,838 words; 107,906 characters (no spaces); 129,197 characters (with spaces); 153 paragraphs; 2,219 lines.

I think I'll put it in my blog file...

August 1st, 2005, 05:55 AM
More good news.

This fellow has been compiling these good news stories and should be commended for the effort to put it together.

The Battle to Rebuild
A roundup of the past two weeks' good news from Iraq.

Monday, August 1, 2005 12:01 a.m. EDT

A foreign reporter recently asked Monsignor Rabban al Qas (http://www.asianews.it/view.php?l=en&art=3774), Chaldean bishop of Amadiyah and Arbil, whether there is any good news coming out of Iraq. "Twenty-three Iraqis are killed every day in Iraq," the interviewer observed. "Nearly two years after the fall of Saddam Hussein, there is no security as yet. Is there still hope in Iraq?" To which the monsignor replied:

What the media portray is true: explosions, killings, attacks. But if you see how much order, discipline, transport, displacements, and work have improved, there is a change for the better compared to one or two years ago. Now people understand there is a government, the structure of a new state. Thousands and thousands of allied and Iraqi soldiers are present. There is a constitution which is being drawn up, laws are being enacted. The presence of authority is recognised. This was not the case before. And Al-Qaeda integralists and terrorists coming from abroad seek to penetrate Iraq precisely to destroy the beginnings of this social organization.

A war for the future of Iraq is going on, but that war is being fought not only with guns and explosives. Terrorists and insurgents are killing soldiers and civilians and sabotaging infrastructure, and the Iraqi and coalition security forces in turn are hunting down the enemies of the new Iraq. But every step towards self-government, every new job created, every new school opened, is a small victory against those who would want to turn Iraq's clock back three--or 1,300--years. Below are some of these stories that often get lost in the fog and smoke of war.


With the constitution drafting process progressing on schedule, voter registration (http://www.almendhar.com/english_4792/news.aspx) for the constitutional referendum will start early this month, seeking to enroll those who failed to sign up before the January election as well as those who have turned 18 since then.

Sunni leaders (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/EVIU-6EAH27?OpenDocument&rc=3&cc=irq) are calling for their people not to repeat the mistake of boycotting the election:

Some 300 leaders of Iraq's alienated Sunni Arab former elite called Thursday [14 July] for participation in the next elections, due in December, after a boycott of January polls left the community largely unrepresented in parliament.

"I'm calling on my brothers . . . to participate in the political process," Adnan al-Dulaimi, spokesman for the General Conference of Sunnis, told participants at a Baghdad meeting.

His comments were echoed by Sheikh Ibrahim al-Nima, a leading Sunni cleric from the main northern city of Mosul.

"We can blame ourselves from staying away at the last elections. It was a big mistake," he said.

"Participating (in the next elections) means we shall exist. If we don't participate there will be no existence for us."

A leader of the hardline Salafist movement, Sheikh Zakaria Mohi Issa al-Timimi, also endorsed taking part. "We will be very active in our participation in the elections in order to mitigate the damage inflicted on Sunnis today," he said.

There's plenty of foreign support for the constitutional process. Bob Rae ( m/servlet/ArticleNews/TPStory/LAC/20050722/IRAQRAE22/TPNational/Canada&hl=en), a former premier of Ontario, is one of the Canadians currently in Baghdad under the auspices of the Forum of Federations to share the experience of federalism as Iraqis draft their constitution:

Mr. Rae said that, in this environment of continuous violence, carnage and horror, the determination of the Iraqis to bring democracy to their country is overwhelmingly impressive. "You come away from it all with tremendous admiration for the courage of the people who are sticking at it and moving forward, going forward, and dealing with some very difficult issues. "They are sophisticated, professional, political people who are picking up the pieces at the end of a dictatorship, and they're doing it in the most difficult of circumstances--this terrible attack on the civilian population."

The European Union will be channeling €20 million (http://www.irna.ir/en/news/view/line-16/0507181287184311.htm) ($24 million) through the United Nations in support of the constitutional process. The fund will go to the following areas:

Provision of European experts to work with the Constitutional Committee of the Iraqi Transitional National Assembly and with other institutions and actors in Iraq
Media and Public Information
Civic education and promotion of public debate, and participation in the referendum
The U.S. Agency for International Development (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/EGUA-6EESF6?OpenDocument&rc=3&cc=irq) is also assisting:

USAID organized trainings for 164 facilitators who will conduct hundreds of Constitutional Dialogue sessions throughout the country in the coming weeks. These facilitators are all members of 150 NGOs participating in USAID's Constitutional Dialogue Program designed to facilitate constituent involvement in the constitutional process through civic education and public input. Between June 20 and 24, trainings were conducted in Erbil, Dohuk, and Baghdad for facilitators from 75 NGOs based in Babil, Baghdad, Diwaniyah, Dohuk, Hilla, Karbala, Kirkuk, al-Najaf, Ninewa, and al-Wasit.

USAID is also carrying out other initiatives (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/EGUA-6EMLEK?OpenDocument&rc=3&cc=irq) to help along the constitutional process and to improve the work of the National Assembly:

USAID is . . . helping the Iraqi National Assembly's (INA's) Constitutional Committee adopt systems to enable public input on the constitution. In June, a USAID-sponsored Civil Society team and a few Iraqi NGOs participating in the Constitutional Dialogue Program met with the Constitution Committee's Outreach Unit to design a work plan to receive public input. . . .

USAID provided training to 42 INA members on the legislative drafting process. Training topics included creating and introducing a bill; its reading stages; the supporting role played by the legal staff; the form and content of a law; legislative reviews; the role and use of amendments; and reasons why public input is important to the overall legislative process. USAID also provided training to 37 INA members on advocacy and lobbying for legislators working in a democratic system.

Iraqis, too, are getting involved. Civil society groups have commenced a program called "the project of constitutional dialogue (http://www.almendhar.com/english_4609/news.aspx)" to raise awareness of the constitutional process. A conference (http://www.almendhar.com/english_4635/news.aspx) on "the new Iraqi constitution and the anticipated challenges" has been held in Najaf. And in another initiative:

A series of workshops have been held in Iraqi ministries for female employees (http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/IRIN/6d7a141568706225a6d8f77f37f78a8f.htm), aimed at raising awareness of the new constitution, so that they are able to make an informed choice when voting on it in October.

"The workshops aim to help women understand how the drafting of the constitution will take place, explaining the basic fundamental principles: human rights, women's rights, federalism and legislation," director of the ICWRE, Jennan Mubarak, said. The workshops have been organised by local NGOs, the Iraqi Centre for Women's Rehabilitation and Employment (ICWRE) and the Civil Alliance For Free Elections (CVAFE).

Democracy is also growing from the bottom up, in some cases also with help from overseas. Another two cities working to formalize a sister city (http://www.blackanthem.com/News/2005071701.html) arrangement are Florida's Kissimmee and Iraq's Zafaraniya. There's also cooperation between Utah and Babil (http://sltrib.com/utah/ci_2890672):

[Salim Al-Musilmawi, governor of the province of Babil] is part of a five-member Iraqi delegation visiting Utah for five days. Aimed at teaching them how democracy works on the local level, it is the first exchange of Iraqi and U.S. state and municipal officials.

South Jordan Councilwoman Leona Winger and Mayor W. Kent Money showed the Iraqis how public works and safety, planning and zoning and other aspects of local government operate.

Money described touring the South Jordan City Council chambers with the Iraqis. He said they were surprised to learn that the most important people don't sit at the elected officials' table. Instead, the most important people are the citizens who sit in the audience.

"That is a new concept to them," the mayor said. Money credited Winger with the idea of inviting the Iraqi delegation to visit South Jordan. Winger founded the nonprofit organization, New Hope Humanitarian, this month. Its goal is to establish a long-term relationship with the Iraqi people that will promote democracy, economic development and women's rights, among other things.

USAID's Local Governance Program "is working with local government officials and civic institutions to form local government associations (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/EGUA-6EMLEK?OpenDocument&rc=3&cc=irq) (LGA) that will act as lobbying and advocacy organizations that represent the interests of the local government to other government officials and the public."

Britain's Department for International Development is working to assist Iraqi women (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/EVIU-6EMBWV?OpenDocument&rc=3&cc=irq):

£6.25 million [$11.3 million] Political Participation Fund - Through the PPF, money has been targeted at increasing women's participation in the political process, particularly in the run up to the recent elections. Several women's NGOs have received funds to run workshops, provide training, conduct media campaigns encouraging women to vote, and carry out other work to promote political awareness. £5 million [$8.7 million] Civil Society Fund - DFID is funding links between international and Iraqi women's organisations to strengthen the ability of local groups' to address the needs of Iraqi women. International NGOs have conducted rights awareness and leadership training, fostered links between women's groups, and organised an international NGO conference on women and foreign exchanges for Iraqi women leaders.

A new news agency (http://www.ijnet.org/FE_Article/newsarticle.asp?UILang=1&CId=303117&CIdLang=1) is about to be launched:

With some help from U.S. nonprofits, Iraqi journalists are planning what they say will be their country's first independent, national news agency.

The English name of the agency will be the National Iraq News Agency, or NINA. To get the agency up and running, the journalists are getting training and financial support from U.S.-based nonprofits funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Nicole Chartrand-Tresch, a technical officer for USAID in Iraq, told IJNet that the goal of the support is to help the agency--which would be a commercial enterprise independent of the government--become self-sufficient.

The America's Development Foundation (ADF) is overseeing the project as part of its Iraq Civil Society and Media Support Program. The International Research and Exchange Board (IREX) is providing the training and consultation to the journalists. Joachim Raffelberg of IREX is in Baghdad overseeing the media component of the civil society program, Chartrand-Tresch said. Kadhim Al-Rikabi, the program's media manager, told the London-based Arabic newspaper Asharq Alawsat that the journalists are being trained in preparation for the agency's launch.

But they will have some competition (http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/07/18/business/inews.php):

Iraqi journalists are getting a chance to show their résumés around.

The charitable foundation of the Reuters news agency plans to announce this week that it is turning a grass-roots Iraqi news Web site into the country's first independent commercial news service.

The Web site, Aswat al-Iraq, or Voices of Iraq, has relied on 30 freelance workers, help from three independent Iraqi newspapers and feeds from the Reuters Arabic-language service, to publish hundreds of articles a month in Iraq.

Now the site, www.aswataliraq.info (http://www.aswataliraq.info/), will become a full-fledged news wire, managed and staffed by Iraqi journalists in Baghdad and operated independently of Reuters. It will use $800,000 from the United Nations to create a newsroom and to base reporters in each Iraqi province. When the service goes live in a few months, it will feed breaking news to both Iraqi and foreign news outlets.

USAID's Local Governance Program (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/EGUA-6EMLEK?OpenDocument&rc=3&cc=irq) "assisted the Babil Provincial Council (PC) in brokering a deal to make a location available for the satellite based Al-Iraqia TV to house its regional activities. In return for access, Al-Iraqia TV will merge its operations with Babil TV including hiring its nine staff members. The PC is hoping this agreement will encourage Al-Iraqia TV to cover their local government activities more extensively."

Read also about Al Mahaba (http://www.almendhar.com/english_4559/news.aspx), the recently launched radio station targeting women.

Baghdad's public libraries (http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2005-07-14-baghdad-books_x.htm?csp=34) are also trying to revive:

Driven away by bombs, dispirited by shelves emptied by looters, visitors to the public library in Baghdad's Khadamiya district are now starting to return.

There's still work to be done. Stolen books and looted furniture must be replaced. But seeing the return of readers is inspiring enough for Alya Abdul Hussein, a librarian here for 20 years.

"This library, like any public facility in Iraq, suffered," Hussein says.

The Khadamiya Library is one of eight public libraries open in Baghdad, down from 19 operating before the start of the war more than two years ago. Fighting, looters and neglect closed most of the others. Muhammed Qassim, a Ministry of Municipalities and Public Works official, says the government is trying to reopen more libraries with grant money from the United States and other countries.

And in sport, Iraq has crowned the first postliberation soccer champion (http://today.reuters.co.uk/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=sportsNews&storyID=2005-07-15T193248Z_01_YUE570353_RTRUKOC_0_SOCCER-IRAQ.xml):

More than 15,000 soccer fans braved the bloody mayhem caused by 10 suicide bombers across Baghdad on Friday to see the air force team al-Quwa Jawiya crowned Iraq's first champions since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

Many drove half the length of a nation ravaged by war to reach the capital's Shaab national stadium from Basra, only to see their port authority side Al-Meena lose to two second half goals.

For organisers of a tournament that pitted teams from rebel strongholds like Ramadi and Samarra against powerful clubs from the capital once favoured by Saddam's elite, the fact that it went ahead at all for the first time since the U.S. invasion of 2003 was a triumph. "A lot of people didn't think we'd be able to stage a championship at all," said Hussein Sayeed, chairman of the Iraqi soccer federation and a former captain of the national team.

August 1st, 2005, 05:57 AM

"Iraq's Economy on Long Road to Recovery (http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=10&categ_id=3&article_id=17083)," reads a headline in Lebanon's Daily Star:

Recent foreign aid and trade agreements provide hope that Iraq's economy, plagued by years of sanctions and violence, is on the road to recovery. Despite almost daily news of grisly atrocities, there have been a number of encouraging signs recently for Iraq's emerging economy.

GDP growth was estimated at 54 percent in 2004. This year is also expected to be strong, with GDP growth predicted at 34 percent.

Iraq's "New Dinar" currency, introduced in 2003, has been performing strongly, appreciating by about 25 percent against the dollar in the past two years. As the fledgling government works toward drafting a constitution, a formal request for WTO membership is also pending.

But as the report goes on to say, challenges are many, including high unemployment.

Last year, the Ministry of Industry issued 7,661 licenses (http://www.almendhar.com/english_4808/news.aspx) for new businesses: 2,896 in the construction sector, 1,520 in food, 200 in textiles, 667 in the plastic and chemical industries, and 1,336 in mining and resources. This year, Adel Karim, a deputy minister for industrial development, has announced the government's intention to start the privatization program (http://www.forbes.com/business/businesstech/feeds/ap/2005/07/17/ap2142000.html), with cement, brick and pharmaceutical factories being transferred into the private sector as a first step.

The government is also cutting taxes (http://www.azzaman.com/english/index.asp?fname=news%5C2005-07-13%5C10440.htm) to boost economic activity:

Iraq has slashed income tax to 15% from 49% and substantially increased the minimum sums individuals can earn net of tax.

The progressive tax system replaces a 1982 law under which individuals had to pay 49% of income beyond certain salary brackets.

The current tax system is progressive. It starts with 3% up to a maximum of 15%. . . .

Parents' income is only taxable if together they earn more than 4.5 million dinars. Besides, there are allowances of 400,000 dinars annually for each child. Previously, annual incomes beyond 1.6 million dinars were taxed. . . . Companies have seen their taxes slashed from 35% to 15%.

USAID, meanwhile, is helping to lay the groundwork for Iraq's bid to join (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/EGUA-6EESF6?OpenDocument&rc=3&cc=irq) the World Trade Organization:

Thirty board members of Iraqi business associations and thirty mid-level government officials attended a series of workshops in Baghdad to learn about the challenges of World Trade Organization (WTO) membership and its impact on their organizations. The workshops were sponsored by USAID's Private Sector Development program. Iraq is applying for membership in the WTO, along with Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Iraq's Inter-ministerial Committee on the WTO is reviewing a document that, if approved, will be submitted to the WTO to begin the accession process.

The Iraqi dinar (http://www.iraqdirectory.com/files/articles/article614.htm) continues to be a success story:

A market-driven monetary policy has reduced the Iraqi dinar's vulnerability to political upheaval and is keeping the exchange rate stable, Central Bank Governor Sinan al-Shabibi said.

A $5 billion build-up of central bank foreign reserves, after its assets were mostly looted following the 2003 invasion, has helped maintain the rate at 1,465-1,475 dinars to the dollar, Shabibi said.

"We are very comfortable with the present exchange rate," said Shabibi, who was on a visit to Jordan.

"It is a boost to the donors because it introduces predictability, stability and maintains the external purchasing power of the currency," Shabibi said, referring to billions of dollars of international aid flows for reconstruction. Despite the postwar violence that has badly delayed economic recovery, the dinar remained stable for more than a year compared with violent fluctuations during Saddam's rule, when it was battered by wars and crushing UN sanctions.

Shabibi also sees the banking sector reviving:

Foreign banks, allowed to enter Iraq in 2003 for the first time in decades, are opting to buy stakes or enter partnerships rather than set up subsidiaries in the present unstable security climate, Shabibi said.

Among the banks with licences are HSBC, Standard Chartered and National Bank of Kuwait. . . .

Regional bankers say Jordan-based Arab Bank and Lebanon's leading Audi Bank are also actively seeking a foothold in Iraqi market. . . .

Joint ventures helped raise the capital base of the country's local banks and bring much needed technology, management upgrades and exposure, he added.

Iraq's 30 private banks, mainly small deposit banks, had to develop their lending if they were to progress, Shabibi said. "The balance sheets of banks need much development as far as lending but not on the deposit side. They have a lot of liquidity but their problem is their lending policies," he added.

Adham Kareem, general manager of the Kurdistani Central Bank in Arbil, talks about the growth of the banking sector (http://www.almendhar.com/english_4701/news.aspx) in Kurdistan.

Kurds are developing stronger economic ties (http://www.kurdishmedia.com/news.asp?id=7297) with the home of their large diaspora:

The Kurdistan Development Corporation, a joint investment initiative between the Kurdistan Regional Government and international business people, announced the opening of a branch in Munich, Germany. . . .

[Siggy Martsch, KDC Director for Germany] said: "Serious interest in Kurdistan by German companies is already evident; Siemens are working successfully on the ground and Vossing Engineering have just won a contract to design a sewage system for Erbil city. Our office in Germany will further promote the region and facilitate business for the German companies that are bound to follow." Earlier this month KDC facilitated a 2.4 million dollar deal between the Kurdistan Regional Government Ministry for Municipalities and German company Vossing Engineering to design a sewage system.

The second Iraqi-German Economic Conference (http://www.almendhar.com/english_4713/news.aspx) recently took place in Munich. Also in Kurdistan, one businessmen is investing heavily (http://www.adnki.com/index_2Level.php?cat=Business&loid=8.0.187796572&par=0) in the local economy:

The Kurdish Autonomous Region is getting a new hotel. The 28-floor luxury hotel, which will be built in the town of Suleymaniya, is part of a 60 million dollar tourism project led by Kurdish businessman Faruq al-Mullah Mustafa. He is also behind the creation of the first Iraqi mobile network, and announced other big investments such as a big cement company, and the first ever cable-car in Iraq, connecting the hotel to a nearby mountain.

Also in Suleymaniya: The Sulaimaniyah Aadministration [sic] of Iraqi Kurdistan has started implementing a residential project called the New City (http://www.iwpr.net/archive/ipm/ipm_292.html). The project will consist of 358 apartments, along with services and facilities such as parks, sport stadiums, swimming pools, computers and the Internet. Prime Minister Omar Fatah of the Sulaimaniyah administration said that this project will help provide basic service for 358 families who so far don't have housing.

Meanwhile, Egyptian billionaire Najib Sawiros intends to invest up to $2.5 billion (http://news.webindia123.com/news/showdetails.asp?id=97862&cat=Business) in Iraq. Sawiros is the owner of, among other things, the Iraqi cell phone company Irakna. Kuwaiti and Lebanese investors (http://www.iraqdirectory.com/files/articles/article608.htm) also are coming into al-Salaha'a Central Shopping Markets.

In oil news: Iraq is to ask foreign companies to bid for a $1bn new oil refinery project (http://www.ameinfo.com/64549.html) later this month which is 70km north-west of Baghdad, reported Bloomberg. The Al Nahrain or two rivers project is for a 140,000 bpd refinery to process Basra crude.

Baghdad and Tehran (http://www.forbes.com/work/feeds/afx/2005/07/18/afx2142289.html) will be cooperating more closely:

Iran and Iraq are planning to build three pipelines, at Iran's expense, to cover Iraq's urgent need for petroleum and refined oil products, said Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh.

Iraq will export crude oil to Iran, and Iran will transport petroleum and other refined products to Iraq, which is suffering from shortages in its petrochemicals industry, the minister told a press conference, attended by Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari, who is visiting Iran.

Zanganeh said the agreement has not yet been signed, but the exchange will begin 10 months after it is signed.

"The plan is for Iran to buy 150,000 barrels per day of light crude from Basrah (in southern Iraq)," he said. "In return, Iran will supply petroleum, gasoil and kerosene (to Iraq)," he said. "The gasoil and kerosene will be supplied by the Abadan refinery (in Iran)," the minister added. The petroleum will be imported by Iran on Iraq's behalf.

In communications, Iraq will auction off (http://www.iraqdirectory.com/files/articles/article606.htm) two to five mobile phone licenses by the end of this year to replace the country's three expiring wireless licenses. The new licenses are expected to last for 15 years with a possible extension for another five:

A quarter of a century of wars and crushing sanctions have badly damaged Iraq's communications network, and mobile phones were only introduced in the country of about 27 million people after the invasion in 2003. With only about 3 per cent of the population with a fixed-line phone, the country is increasingly dependent on mobile networks, which have more than two million customers as people struggle to stay in touch and do basic business.

Kurdistan (http://www.almendhar.com/english_4567/news.aspx) is finally seeing a rollout of modern infrastructure:

Arbil-Haydar Al Sheikh, the transportation and telecommunication minister in Iraqi Kurdistan government [said] that his ministry is about to finish the biggest project to secure phone communication among Arbil, Dahuk and Al Selaimania, at a cost of 32 million dollars. He added that the project includes "building three new, German made, Siemens exchanges, with a capacity of 15 thousand lines for each exchange, which is executed by ITU Company, in addition to the 'Access Network' project, at a cost of 13 million dollars, aiming at the information exchange among ministries, institutions and governmental universities."

Kurdistan will also benefit as the Kuwaiti group MTC and its Iraqi partner Atheer, previously operating in the south of the country, roll out their cell phone network (http://www.ameinfo.com/64375.html) in the north, in competition with one provider already operating there.

In transport, Iraq and Iran have signed an extensive memorandum of understanding (http://www.payvand.com/news/05/jul/1136.html) relating to closer transport ties between the two countries. Initiatives foreshadowed under the memo range from removing visa requirements for commercial drivers to establishing marine training courses, and providing assistance in airport reconstruction.

Internal flights (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/07/16/wwide16.xml&sSheet=/news/2005/07/16/ixnewstop.html) are resuming:

On any flight on any airline there is a sense of relief when the aircraft completes take-off and levels out at its cruising altitude.

But on Flight IA015 the ping as the "fasten seatbelt" sign switched off brought its own euphoria. The aircraft's departure point was Baghdad and the carrier was Iraqi Airways, which has not been in the air for years.

Iraq's national airline has restarted a regular service to the southern city of Basra, 14 years after its fleet was effectively grounded by the international sanctions that followed the 1991 Gulf war. The reborn carrier was inaugurated last month, its first trip celebrated with the sacrifice of a goat on the runway. It means that for £42 [$73], the price of a one-way economy class ticket, passengers from the capital can reach the south of the country in 55 minutes.

As one of the passengers, Abdul Azziz al-Rashid, said, "It is very important for Iraqis that we have a working airline. . . . It reminds us that we can be like other countries again."

Meanwhile, the Suleymaniyah airport (http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/050722/2005072215.html) in the north officially opened on July 20, with the landing of the first plane from Amman, Jordan. Another Kurdish airport (http://www.kurdishmedia.com/news.asp?id=7304) is now also open for business:

The first flight of a Kurdish-owned airline landed in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil on Thursday [July 21], linking one of the main cities in the heart of Kurdistan to Dubai.

The sole airplane belonging to the nascent Kurdistan Airlines, a Boeing 737, landed at 10:30 am (0630 GMT) carrying 46 Iraqi and Kurdish businessmen. The Arbil airport was officially inaugurated on April 15.

And on the international level (http://www.iraqdirectory.com/files/articles/article600.htm):

Iraqi Airways plans to lease eight planes shortly to meet growing demand, despite concerns about security at Baghdad airport, Transport Minister Salam al-Malaki said. . . .

The once formidable flag carrier, whose fleet was obliterated by wars and U.N. sanctions, will inaugurate regular flights in the next few days between Baghdad and Dubai and between Amman and Suleimaniya in northern Iraq, Malaki said.

"Iraqi Airways is making a comeback. We have a broad plan to lease cargo and passenger planes," Malaki told Reuters.

"We are also finalising permits and routes to Tehran, Istanbul and Cairo," said Malaki, who was in Jordan to attend an international donor conference for Iraq. The Iraqi carrier started regular flights to Amman and Damascus earlier this year. Other companies flying to Baghdad include Royal Jordanian, which has two to three round trips a day, and private operators in the Gulf.

Daily flights between Baghdad and Dubai (http://www.almendhar.com/english_4717/news.aspx) will also start in August, and weekly flights will connect Baghdad and Istanbul (http://www.almendhar.com/english_4854/news.aspx).
International carriers (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/iraq/complete/la-fg-iraqair21jul21,1,906361.story?coll=la-iraq-complete&ctrack=1&cset=true) also intend to resume services: "British Airways plans to resume flights from London to Baghdad, and Lufthansa, Virgin Atlantic Airways and Northwest Airlines also have expressed interest in operating flights here."

August 1st, 2005, 05:58 AM

James Crum, director of the Project and Contracting Office in Washington, updates the progress (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jul2005/20050722_2195.html) of reconstruction in Iraq:

[Crum] estimated that work is about two-thirds complete on 3,000 projects "the Iraqis identified as being a critical need." . . .

The PCO's charter is to steward roughly $18.44 billion in funds President Bush approved in 2003 for the Iraqi Relief and Reconstruction Fund. The three-year program is responsible for projects throughout Iraq's 18 provinces in an area covering 166,000 square miles. . . .

Now in its second year, the program is spending about $1 billion every 45 days. A main goal is to employ as many Iraqis as possible and to hire Iraqi firms for contract work when possible. Crum explained officials hope to build capacity within the Iraqi workers so they can take the projects over in the future. On any given day 40,000 to 45,000 Iraqis are employed on PCO projects throughout Iraq, he said.

Read also this excellent series--here (http://www.estripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=30543) and here (http://www.estripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=29753&archive=true)--which looks at the reconstruction effort so far as well as problems and challenges.

Foreign funds continue to be made available:The World Bank (http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,1531092,00.html) agreed . . . to lend $500m (£285.2m) to Iraq for reconstruction--its first loan to the country since 1973--as aid donors to the devastated country met in Jordan. The soft loan for infrastructure projects was announced as donors urged Iraq to provide a list of its most urgent rebuilding projects in an attempt to speed reconstruction.

More here (http://www.almendhar.com/english_4797/news.aspx).

The Islamic Development Bank (http://www.kuna.net.kw/home/story.aspx?Language=en&DSNO=753088) agreed on July 18 to extend a loan of $500 million at the donors meeting in Jordan. The meeting bore other fruit (http://www.noticias.info/asp/aspComunicados.asp?nid=85554&src=0):

Donor countries have agreed in principle on a new mechanism which gives Iraq the leading role in reconstruction efforts. . . .

The Iraq Reconstruction Forum, dubbed the "IRFO," will be launched in two weeks, said Michael Bell, chairman of the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq, a body developed early in 2004 to help donor nations channel resources and coordinate support for reconstruction and development in Iraq.

"What the Iraqi government has proposed was a new donor coordination mechanism to be established and that will deal separately from IRFFI, that will be a mechanism, in which the Iraqi government will take full ownership in the development process in a real and concrete way," Bell said. "It will be the Iraqis who will chair that body and they will deal with all donors on bilateral and multilateral levels through coordination," he told a news conference at the end of two days of talks by representatives of 60 countries and international organizations on Iraq's reconstruction. Bell said Iraqi Planning Minister Barham Salih will head IRFO. It was not immediately clear how the emerging body will interact with the existing International Reconstruction Fund. So far, 19 fund members--including the United States, Japan and Canada--have pledged over $1 billion to IRFFI, a statement said. It said more pledges were made Monday, including $5.5 million from Denmark, $20 million from Australia, $2.4 million from Greece, $180.8 million from the European Commission, $12 million from Italy and $20 million from Spain. The contributions are separate from the $32 billion in loans and grants pledged for Iraq's reconstruction at the October 2003 donor conference in Madrid, Spain. Bell said the next meeting will be held in February 2006.

Iran has allocated $1 billion (http://www.payvand.com/news/05/jul/1207.html) for the reconstruction of Iraq, particularly its energy sector. The Japanese government, meanwhile, continues to fund reconstruction projects in Al-Muthanna province--here's one recent example (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/EVIU-6EHDTU?OpenDocument&rc=3&cc=irq).

Lot more electricity should soon be flowing through Iraq, thanks to its two neighbors (http://www.iraqdirectory.com/files/articles/article587.htm):

Both Turkey and Iran have expressed readiness to supply Iraq with 1800 MW of electricity, the share of Turkey is 1000 MW to supply Nineveh, Dohook and Erbial with electricity. The Engineer Haithem Taha, the advisor at the Electricity Ministry said that the Islamic Republic of Iran had agreed to connect it's electricity grid with Iraqi National grid over Diyla and Amara outlets to supply Iraq with 800 MW (it is an Iranian superabundant). It is hopeful to sign special contract in this concern between the two countries over the next two weeks, the contract stipulates that the Iranian side will continue to supply Iraq over this period with electricity link for 18 months from the beginning of signing the contract.

USAID (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/EGUA-6EESF6?OpenDocument&rc=3&cc=irq) is working on two major water projects in Baghdad:

To ameliorate water shortages in Sadr City, Baghdad, a modern water treatment plant will be constructed to increase the quantity and quality of potable water to the area. Significant progress is being made by the Iraqi subcontractor on the facility's structural design. Workers have completed dewatering and have begun laying the foundation. The foundation grading, filling, and sub-base compaction for the facility's recycle pump station, sedimentation area, residual pump station, and intermediate pump are completed. Also the concrete has been poured for the foundations of the operations building and the residual solid pump station. . . . Work continues on a project to repair the sewage collection system in Kadhamiya, a northern suburb of Baghdad with a population of 1.5 million. The district frequently endures flooding of raw sewage which remains as pools in streets and homes. These overflows occur because of inadequate or blocked sewer lines, and because inoperable pump stations cannot convey sewage from homes and mains to sewage treatment plants. The sewer lines require extensive repair or replacement. Public health risks from water-borne diseases (typhoid and cholera) are increased by pools of exposed raw sewage in neighborhoods.

Also in Sadr City (http://www.azzaman.com/english/index.asp?fname=news2005-07-2310456.htm):

Sadr City's municipal council is constructing 27 water purification plants, the site engineer said.

Sabah al-Batawi said the plants which will rely on wells for water supply are expected to ease pressure on the capital's water utility which relies on the Tigris River for supplies.

Sadr City, Baghdad's most impoverished neighborhood, suffers from erratic water and power supplies.

Batawi said the 27 projects built at a cost of $1.8 million are expected "to solve the huge water problem the city has been undergoing recently."

Work on the plants started four months ago and one of them is already operational, Batawi said. Underground water is available in huge quantities and easily accessible. But it is rather salty, unfit from both human and agricultural purposes.

Meanwhile, the work at Karbala's water treatment plant (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/Karbala+Water+Treatment+Plant+expected+to+be+compl eted+in+September+2005__1111360.html?PHPSESSID=b4b a73b4c4496b11a6bba8d87992c93c) is nearing completion:

Contractors are currently installing chlorine piping and ground systems for all five clarifier units. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) anticipates that half the units will be operational and producing drinking water by mid-July. USAID continues to train Iraqis who operate the clarifier units and the low lift station. The project is 78 percent finished and is expected to be complete in September 2005.

Efforts are under way to rebuild what once was the region's best education system. In higher education, another group of academics--58 of them, the fifth group so far--who lost their jobs for political reasons during Saddam's regime has been returned to work (http://www.almendhar.com/english_4632/news.aspx) by the Ministry of Higher Education. So far 1,493 academics have been rehabilitated and reinstated.

And a huge victory for Iraqi university students will give graduates more opportunities (http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/IRIN/18ee61ac7888203b049989ca302dabc9.htm):

Graduate students from Iraqi universities have finally received permission from the Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE) to have work they have completed authenticated by officials.

"Students from now on, will have the right to get their syllabus officially authenticated--this will help in their future outside the country as well as facilitate acceptance in worldwide universities," Salah Aliwi, a senior official in the MoHE, said.

Syllabus authorisation--an official record of subjects studied at higher education level--is seen as key to Iraqi graduates' having study and work options abroad.

During Saddam Hussein's regime no such official certificate was issued to graduates. This policy was designed to keep as many graduates in the country a possible.

"It is the right of any student to have their syllabus recognised," Aliwi explained. Thousands of Arab students who had attended courses in Iraq during Saddam's regime had problems proving what they had been studying. The news that syllabus authorisation is to be introduced means many may now return to Iraq to avail themselves of the facility.

On the lower level, USAID is working to provide basic amenities (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/USAID+rebuilds+water%2C+sanitation+facilities+of+8 00+schools__1111374.html?PHPSESSID=d806acf741a7049 578040f1a57eebaa5) to Iraqi schools:

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Basic Education program is rebuilding water and sanitation facilities in 800 schools.

In May, work began on 132 schools, bringing the total number of schools under rehabilitation to 355.

Facilities in 11 Maysan governorate schools have already been completed. The Basic Education program is also leading efforts to reconstruct 70 schools throughout the country.

USAID is also helping to improve the quality of teaching (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/Program+aims+to+improve+quality+of+teachers+in+Ira q__1111384.html?PHPSESSID=d806acf741a7049578040f1a 57eebaa5) across the country:

Training recently began for the Master Trainers under the teacher training initiative of the Basic Education program.

Twenty-five Iraqi Master Trainers are currently participating in a five-week training in Amman, Jordan conducted by Hashemite University experts and international/regional consultants.

The training will help the Master Trainers develop teacher training strategies, methodologies and resource materials. When finished, they will return to Iraq to train a core group of 440 teacher trainers in the 21 Directorates of Education in Iraq. These teacher trainers will then begin the process of training 50,000 teachers for grades one to three.

In health news:

The Health Ministry has decided to use electronic smart cards (http://www.iwpr.net/archive/ipm/ipm_284.html) for patients who are treated in hospitals and other medical centers. The Health Minister said the ministry will use the modern techniques and technology in the health sector to better serve the patients. They started using the smart card initially in Sadr City and the Karkh side of Baghdad as a trial before using it at all health organizations in Iraq. The ministry has allocated 10 billion Iraqi dinars [$6.8 million] to execute this program, which will be applied by the beginning of 2006.

Meanwhile, the United Nations has conducted a massive, successful immunization campaign (http://www.todayonline.com/articles/61939.asp) throughout Iraq--with some help from the private sector:The United Nations has vaccinated nearly five million Iraqi children against polio, spurring parents on to clinics using mobile phone text messages, a statement said.

"In recent weeks, the UN worked to vaccinate 4.7 million Iraqi children five years and under . . . as part of a series of initiatives aimed at bolstering health among the population," the statement said.USAID's Community Action Program (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/Diyala+health+clinic+renovated__1111383.html?PHPSE SSID=d806acf741a7049578040f1a57eebaa5) is a useful initiative that helps local communities to improve services in their area. Often, it's the health infrastructure that benefits--for example, most recently:

[The program] supplied medical equipment and renovated facilities for a Diyala governorate community's health clinic. The program renovated the center's bathrooms and laboratory, and supplied equipment such as microscopes, a centrifuge, an oven, auto claves, thermometers and wheelchairs. The clinic serves tens of thousands of people in the area but lacked modern medical equipment and was in a general state of disrepair. Many local residents were compelled to rely on the health center because the next closest facility was too far away.

A new credit initiative (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/%24180+million+Ex-Im+Bank+insurance+policy+approved+for+Trade+Bank+o f+Iraq+transactions__1111349.html?PHPSESSID=b4ba73 b4c4496b11a6bba8d87992c93c) will help American businesses help Iraqi agriculture:

The Board of Directors of the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) has approved an insurance policy for CoBank, ACB for up to $180 million in Letters of Credit to support U.S. exports to Iraq.

The insurance will be used to support trade financing from CoBank, ACB, a cooperative bank and part of the U.S. Farm Credit System. Under this policy, Ex-Im Bank will support Letters of Credit issued by the Trade Bank of Iraq (TBI) in favor of U.S. exporters including Telwar International, Inc. of Brentwood, Tennessee to purchase bulk agricultural commodities, including an estimated $27 million a month in rice and wheat shipments.

"This financing will enable U.S. exporters to provide the Iraqi people with large volumes of bulk agricultural commodities and other goods and services on a timely basis," Chairman Philip Merrill said. "Ex-Im Bank remains fully committed to supporting Iraq's reconstruction and is diligently working to find new and creative financing solutions to meet Iraq's financing needs."

USAID (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/EGUA-6EESF6?OpenDocument&rc=3&cc=irq) is assisting the development of Iraqi agriculture through various initiatives:

Two irrigation canal cleaning projects are underway in Ninawa' and Diyala' governorates to improve farmers' access to water and increase agricultural production. The projects are funded by USAID's Agricultural Research and Development for Iraq (ARDI) program. . . .

ARDI, in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), is conducting a survey of poultry farms near Baghdad to collect information about the poultry industry, including the economic performance of poultry farms. The results will allow ARDI and the MOA to better understand the poultry industry and the problems poultry farmers face. . . .

USAID and the MOA recently conducted a series of technical demonstrations for tomato farmers in Karbala, Najaf and Basrah governorates. The demonstrations familiarize farmers with new technologies for tomato production in order to boost the yield and quality of tomato crops. . . .

To increase farmer income and reduce public health risks, USAID has recently approved a grant that will fund a training program to improve livestock breeding techniques in Iraqi villages. . . . The program will provide training to 4,800 women in 240 villages to improve breeding techniques and educate the rural population about preventing the spread of diseases from animals. . . . To help create a local market for beekeeping equipment, the MOA and ARDI will provide training to local carpenters in manufacturing high quality beehives. Thirteen carpenters from Arbil, Dahuk, Sulaymaniyah, Kirkuk and Ninawa will participate in a workshop on manufacturing beehives that meet international standards.

In similar recent initiatives (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/EGUA-6EMLEK?OpenDocument&rc=3&cc=irq):

USAID is providing a grant to four Iraqi villages to clean irrigation canals that had not been maintained in three years. . . . The farmers will clean 9,500 meters [six miles] of canal serving 625 hectares [1,550 acres] of land and benefiting 150 families living in the four villages.

The results of a USAID-sponsored survey in 14 Iraqi governorates will determine the training needs of pesticide dealers as part of the MOA's Integrated Pest Management Strategy. . . .

The Kurdistan Agronomist Syndicate (KAS) is renovating its building through a grant from MOA/ARDI. The KAS has a membership of over 2,000 agriculturists and conducts activities promoting agricultural production, including computer courses for agricultural engineers, and supervision for agriculture projects in the private sector. . . .

ARDI is sponsoring a geneticist from the Ministry of Science and Technology to obtain training in genetics relevant to Iraqi agriculture. . . .

Construction began this week for a flower nursery to be managed by a prominent women's union. This effort will provide business opportunities to women-headed households. Twenty-three women will also receive management training and training on potted plant production. . . .

Twenty-nine water buffalo producers in Baghdad, Al Qadisiyah, Al Muthanna', and Dhi Qar are participating in a program to improve pregnancy and calving rates using hormonal treatment and improved nutrition. . . . MOA/ARDI has initiated a program to introduce sorghum as a less expensive feed grain for the poultry industry.

Iraq and Iran will be cooperating to preserve valuable marshland (http://www.azzaman.com/english/index.asp?fname=news%5C2005-07-14%5C10443.htm) that straddles the two countries:

Minister of Water Resources Abdulatif Rashid is to fly to Iran to see what the two countries can do to revitalize joint marshlands.

The Huwaiza marsh, perhaps the only remaining wetland the former leader Saddam Hussein failed to dry, straddles the borders of the two countries.

The marsh escaped Saddam Hussein's massive draining campaigns of southern wetlands because it received its water from rivers originating in Iran.

Rashid said he would meet his Iranian counterpart "to discuss water issues particularly the joint Huwaiza marsh."

The largest portion of the 3,500 sq. km. Huwaiza lies in Iraqi territory with Iran having access only to 1,150 sq. km. "We are going to review policies on how to preserve the marshes, protect them and revive them particularly the wetlands we share," Rashid said.

Restoring marshlands is a multinational effort. Read about the contribution (http://www.channel3000.com/news/4738081/detail.html) of Joy Zedler, who holds the Aldo Leopold Chair in Restoration Ecology at the University of Wisconsin, and Rich Beilfuss, a hydrologist with the Wisconsin-based International Crane Foundation, who head the international restoration mission. And learn more about the project here (http://www.edenagain.org/).

Lastly, this story about how some Iraqis are celebrating (http://www.centcom.mil/CENTCOMNews/Stories/07_05/22.htm) the reconstruction of their country:

If "beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder" then residents of Karbala apparently feel that some of their most prized creative pieces may be seen in the framed, grouped, and carefully hung photographs of recently completed, community reconstruction projects. The residents of this city of 200,000 were justifiably pleased by the numerous local building projects they, not long ago, had completed for and by themselves. Accordingly, in a communal show of pride, they closed a local art gallery, took down its paintings, carefully replaced them with sets of pictures of each of the 89 projects they had, with their own hands, constructed, and held a festive open house to share their happiness.

Humanitarian aid.

The Qatar Red Crescent and Qatar Authority for Charitable Works will jointly establish a unit in Iraq to manufacture artificial limbs (http://www.thepeninsulaqatar.com/Display_news.asp?section=Local_News&subsection=Qatar+News&month=July2005&file=Local_News2005071721315.xml) to help some of the 85,000 Iraqis who lost arms and legs over the past few decades of conflicts. USAID is also trying to help the plight of Iraq's disabled (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/EGUA-6EESF6?OpenDocument&rc=3&cc=irq):

USAID's partner implementing the Community Action Program (CAP) in Qadisiyah, Wasit and Maysan Governorates is working with people with disabilities and the institutions that support them. CAP is currently constructing wheelchair access ramps in 37 local institutions in the city of Diwaniyah (Qadisiyah Governorate) and has nearly finished 23 access ramps in Al Amarah (Maysan Governorate).

In cooperation with the persons with disabilities association in Amarah, CAP will also provide 984 wheelchairs to disabled persons in Maysan Governorate. The distribution covers most of the districts in the governorate. Representatives from the disabled person's community in Amarah are also holding public awareness sessions. They have conducted 17 public lectures and 21 school visits. The Technical Institute in Diwaniyah organized a ramp design contest among its students to raise awareness for the need for architects to incorporate access ramps into building designs. This project is part of CAP's commitment to integrate disabled persons into the community through awareness campaigns and other conveniences such as ramps.

LIFE for Relief and Development (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/RMOI-6EH422?OpenDocument) is working on a range of health projects in Iraq:

LIFE for Relief and Development in cooperation with the International Humanitarian Help Organization of Germany (IHH) will be upgrading LIFE's healthcare center in Basra.

LIFE established the center in 2001 and since its inception; the clinic has provided services to over 100,000 residents of Al-Hakimiyya and its surrounding areas. Although the upgrade aims to provide better services for all patients, the main focus will be the construction of a maternity and children's hospital that will serve more than 200,000 people in Al-Hakimiyya, Tuwaisa, Junaina and Al-Andalus.

Currently, the clinic operates three hours a day due to limited resources. However, during these three hours, doctors at the facility see an average of 50 patients per day. At its current state and with the shortage of diagnostic equipment and advanced medical instruments, the clinic was still rated the best in Basra by the local health authority.

Adjacent land to the current building has been purchased and the hospital will be modified and another two-story building will be constructed to add 20 patient rooms, one operating room, one baby delivery room, a dental facility and a eye examination facility among others.

This expansion will ensure 12 beds for a new maternity ward, which will provide 5 incubators. Also, the hospital will implement an immunization system in coordination with UNICEF and the Iraqi Ministry of Health. The total cost of this project is estimated at $360,000 and will be completed by the year 2007.

As well as some more ad hoc (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/ACIO-6EGLY7?OpenDocument&rc=3&cc=irq) aid initiatives:

In cooperation with the Ministry of Health, LIFE for Relief and Development successfully distributed six containers of medical supplies that were donated by The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints.

The medical supplies were donated to local hospitals, medical centers and clinics throughout Iraq's many provinces including Al-Mosul Main Hospital Al-Jumhuri Hospital, Al-Qaim Main Hospital, Samaraa Main Hospital, Diyala Health Center and many others.

LIFE also distributed medical publications to medical colleges and hospitals including Al-Mosul Medical College, Duhouk Medical College, Al-Anbar Medical College, Al-Ramadi Main Hospital and Al-Qaim Main Hospital. The distributions of twenty containers of medical supplies and books will benefit thousands throughout the country and will ensure a better quality of life for the injured and ill.

A Catholic charity is helping children and mothers (http://www.catholic.org/printer_friendly.php?id=15597&section=Cathcom):

Caritas-Iraq continues to give highest priority to its infant nutrition program, aimed at malnourished children, pregnant women and nursing mothers.

The aid reaches some 20,000 beneficiaries at risk, both Muslim and Christian, in Baghdad, Basra, Nassiriya, Umarah, Dialah and Saladin, according to the Catholic agency.

Caritas' nutrition program, which has been carried out for years in Iraq, benefits children under 8, women in their sixth month of pregnancy and beyond, and nursing mothers with babies under 6 months of age. In addition to food aid, the beneficiaries are entitled to care in Caritas-Iraq's health centers, as well as free medical treatment.

One charity is trying to help the most vulnerable children (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/KHII-6EB3B2?OpenDocument&rc=3&cc=irq):

War Child is providing a unique approach to promoting livelihoods on the basis of child rights, and is addressing the developmental needs of vulnerable children. This programme has four main components: Livelihoods, NGO capacity building, Psychosocial and Paralegal work. War Child is in the process of registering a new local NGO called "Nida' il-Tifil" ("Call of the Child"), whom War Child will support in providing skills, training, financial and management assistance. . . . Our assessment team in Iraq has identified 6 villages with whom we will work to achieve these aims through community based organisations. The progarmme invests in local capacity and builds on civil society. Our other work in Southern Iraq continues: The Drop-in-Centres in Basra and Nasiriyah are progressing and enter the second stage of rehabilitation. Meanwhile training is being provided to local staff in the areas of Child Participatory Research, Child Protection, Counseling Skills etc; and Participatory Action Research with the street children has started in Basra. The centres will provide a safe place for vulnerable street children and help them to gain access to education, skills and better opportunities for their future.

A Colorado business (http://msnbc.msn.com/id/8696064/) is helping Iraqi schoolchildren:

EZSchoolSupplies is an online store (EZSchoolSupplies.com (http://ezschoolsupplies.com/)) that delivers kits costing an average of $40 to customers' front doors or directly to schools. Founder and President Matthew Curtis, 23, came up with the concept for a college marketing class. The professor gave him a D-minus, but Curtis found investors and launched the pilot for EZSchoolSupplies last year. . . .

The owner of a California winery who had done some missionary work in South Africa found the EZSchoolSupplies Web site in March. He contacted Van Noy and Curtis to see if they could help send supplies for 100 needy children in that country. . . .

A U.S. Army "Battle Boar" battalion stationed in Iraq heard about the South African project and EZSchoolSupplies. It contacted the company in May, asking for help to get 1,000 supply kits to schoolchildren in Iraq.

"The local schools do not have funds to purchase supplies, for they are very impoverished. If your company can donate some supplies to help these kids, our battalion would appreciate your kind gesture," said the May 16 e-mail from SPC Steven Wilkerson, U.S. Army. . . .

EZSchoolSupplies decided it could afford to send 300-500 kits to Iraq, with the help of some business partners and investors--Golden-based Quasar Group, Evergreen-based Relatrix and Corona, Calif.-based eKnowledge.

Van Noy and Curtis learned some lessons from their South African experience they'll use when packing the Iraqi school kits--such as crayons don't survive extreme desert heat in the packs. They are opting for colored pencils.

Other modifications have been made as well as both teachers in South Africa and the U.S. Army in Iraq didn't want scissors or similar objects that could be used as weapons. These projects have inspired Curtis to set up an international outreach program on his Web site, where companies can choose schools or students in need, here and abroad, to sponsor. Companies or individuals can click on the site and send off a school supply kit to needy youngsters in a local Denver classroom or buy some kits in bulk for students in Brazil, Van Noy said.

Iowa (http://www.press-citizen.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050715/NEWS01/507150306/1079) parishioners are collecting shoes for Iraqi children:

A small idea turned into a big project for two parishioners at St. Thomas More Catholic Church.

Anne and Caine Thomas wrote an e-mail to their fellow parishioners after their brother-in-law, U.S. Army reservist Capt. Christopher Ortega, suggested they ask people to donate sandals for the shoeless children he saw while on patrol in Tikrit, Iraq.

"We didn't try to turn it into a project, but as soon as people found out, they have been writing checks," Anne Thomas said.

So far, $300 has been donated. The project, called "Sandals for Iraq," was picked up by St. Thomas More's Catholic Church and subsequently the other three Catholic churches in the Iowa City, including St. Mary's, St. Patrick's and St. Wenceslaus. Donation boxes have been placed at all the churches for sturdy sandals and flip-flops for children aged 4 to 10.

An Indiana couple (http://www.kansas.com/mld/kansas/news/special_packages/iraq/12156463.htm) continues to ship toys and school supplies to Iraq--but they need your help with the costs:

Despite financial troubles, a woman who runs a nonprofit group that ships toys, school supplies, sporting goods, clothing and Beanie Babies to impoverished Iraqi children hopes to keep the gifts flowing to Iraq.

Beanies for Baghdad, which was founded in 2003 by an Army officer who befriended an Iraqi girl, is now run by Donna Ward out of her Evansville home.

On Friday afternoon, several plastic bags of school supplies, Beanies, clothing and stuffed animals lay on her living room floor. Ward and her husband, Gerald, have shipped more than 500 boxes of items for children in Iraq.

They estimate that they have spent more than $2,000 of their own money shipping boxes to Iraq and have spent another $1,500 donated by other sources, including local businesses and other aid organizations. Donna Ward has collected six large boxes of toys for another mailing. The homemaker estimates it will cost $200 to $250 to send it first class to Iraq.

See if you can help (http://www.beaniesforbaghdad.com/).

Holly Malueg (http://www.wisinfo.com/newsherald/mnhlocal/301600585315997.shtml), a Wisconsin banker who served as a staff sergeant in the Army Reserve's 432nd Civil Affairs Battalion, is involved in Operation Sesame Street, collecting toys that members of the battalion currently stationed in Iraq and Kosovo can give out to children.

And this, from the Show Me State (http://www.ksdk.com/news/news_article.aspx?storyid=82223):

A Missouri community is helping U.S. soldiers bring some joy to thousands of Iraqi children, who find themselves caught in the middle of a military battle.

Dick Merseal lives in Richwoods, Missouri. "I think our town has a big heart, our town is the most giving. Anytime someone has a need or something, this town really kicks in." Merseal started filling boxes with toys at his Richwoods home. He's got a good reason for helping out. His son is National Guard Captain Kurt Merseal, who is currently serving in Iraq.

Meanwhile, an ex-serviceman is coming back to Iraq to help street children (http://timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=379665&category=AP%20IRAQ&BCCode=&newsdate=7/15/2005):

When Army Capt. Jonathan Powers crossed the Iraq border at the end of his 14-month tour last July he happily believed he'd never see the country again.

That was then.

Now Powers is making plans to return to Iraq as a civilian, to help the children he hasn't been able to forget. Powers, 27, is director of the upstart Orphans and Street Kids Project, whose goal is to coordinate the country's ill-equipped orphanages and offer vocational training for children living on the streets and out of the facilities' reach.

And the efforts of soldiers have saved life of one Iraqi boy (http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/front/3267086):

In the end, a 7-year-old Iraqi boy's long, dark eyelashes may have saved his life.

Kadhem Jawad Kathem is doing well after arriving in Houston last week and undergoing a five-hour operation Tuesday at Texas Children's Hospital to "replumb" his congenitally malformed heart, his surgeon said.

Purple-lipped when he arrived because of his heart's inability to adequately circulate blood through his lungs, Kadhem is showing normal blood-oxygen levels and will likely be well enough to go home in a month.

"I am very grateful to everybody, to the American troops back in Iraq, to all Houstonians and I'm very grateful to the doctors who did the surgery" said the boy's father, Jawad Kathem, a 33-year-old mechanic from southern Iraq. Kathem, who speaks Arabic, spoke to the Associated Press through a translator.

In January, Kadhem met Maj. Brian Stevens, a civil affairs officer serving in Iraq with the Fort Worth-based 56th Brigade Combat Team, 36th Infantry Division, Texas National Guard. Stevens had arrived in a town in southern Iraq--the exact location is confidential--a month earlier, beginning a yearlong deployment to build schools and hospitals.

Kadhem's mother made a wrenching plea for her son, too weak to attend school or play. She gave Stevens X-rays and medical documents to take to a military doctor at the base.

It was "those eyelashes" that captivated soldiers, said Chief Master Sgt. Gonda Moncada, Texas National Guard spokeswoman. "Obviously, many (Iraqi) children would benefit from surgery. We can't help them all." The military doctor, a cardiologist, evaluated Kadhem and determined he needed help--quickly. After searching the Internet, the cardiologist found Dr. Charles Fraser Jr., an expert in repairs of severe cardiac malformations at Texas Children's. Moncada said the cardiologist contacted Fraser directly, via e-mail, and asked, "If we can get the kid into the States, will you do the surgery?"

An Arizona congressman, meanwhile, is helping Iraqi children with facial defects or injuries (http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/0717AZinDC17.html):

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., underwent his first operation for a cleft palate as age 2 weeks, and since then has had 10 more related operations.

He says he considers himself lucky for the improvements those operations have made.

"It's been painful," Franks, 48, said in an interview. But he said the improvements have meant things as basic as being able to speak more clearly.

Now, the two-term congressman is trying to help Iraqi children who have had the same birth defect, as well as other Iraqi children suffering from facial injuries or abnormalities.

On Thursday, Franks traveled to Amman, Jordan, for the first mission of what is being called the Iraq initiative of "Operation Smile," an organization whose doctors perform operations on children to help correct or minimize their facial defects or injuries.

The mission kicks off what is anticipated to be a five-year effort geared to the children of that country. Until now, the program has not been available to Iraqi children. In all, as many as 50 Iraqi children were to be brought to Amman this weekend to be treated by a team of volunteer surgeons.

You can check up here (http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/0724Franks-children.html) on the progress of the mission.

And an unlikely alliance (http://www.iht.com/bin/print_ipub.php?file=/articles/2005/07/18/news/teen.php) is trying to help an Iraqi boy injured by an American bomb:

Ayad al-Sirowiy came to America last week hoping doctors here could remove the war embedded in his face.

Thirteen years old, small and skinny, Ayad was severely burned and blinded in one eye when a American cluster bomb blew up in his face at the beginning of the Iraq war.

The explosion blasted thousands of fragments into his skin and left even deeper emotional scars. The village boys teased him, calling him "Mr. Gunpowder." Even on sweltering days, Ayad wraps a scarf around his face when he leaves home, and most nights, he sleeps with sunglasses to mask his scars.

But all that may change.

On Friday, Ayad and his father, Ali, walked into a laser surgery clinic in Washington to begin a series of treatments to remove the map of pinpoint scars that cover most of Ayad's face.

Doctors say a full recovery for Ayad may be a long shot, but at the urging of a lawyer who read about his plight and labored for more than a year to bring the boy to America, top dermatologists and cornea surgeons are willing to try.

What finally got Ayad here was an unlikely alliance between the lawyer, Joe Tom Easley, a well-known gay rights activist, and Robert Reilly, a conservative adviser to the U.S. Defense Department reviled in gay circles for an article he once wrote calling homosexuality "morally disordered."

August 1st, 2005, 06:00 AM
Coalition troops. :thumbup:

Task Force Baghdad (http://i-newswire.com/pr38231.html) has a reconstruction update:

Since the transfer of sovereignty, a total of 1,451 projects valued at $1.4 billion have been completed. Large-scale capital projects like power plants, water treatment plants and oil infrastructure facilities are being reconstructed and, in some cases, built anew.

Demand for electricity is currently growing faster than it is able to be supplied; however, new power lines of 33 kilovolts have been completed. Generation plants are being built and transmission lines are being constructed to replace a decades-old, neglected electrical power system. A total of more than 2,000 megawatts of power have been added to the grid (enough to service 5.4 million Iraqi homes ). More than 1,400 electrical towers and 8,600 kilometers [5,300 miles] of transmission lines have been installed.

Many sewer trunk lines have been cleaned or fixed. Work on the majority of sewer trunk lines continues and progress continues.

Each day, 50 million additional gallons of treated, drinkable water are being pumped to the Baghdad residents. New water wells and treatment facilities are in the progress of being constructed in addition to new delivery pipes being installed.

Solid waste ( trash ) is being removed from the majority of sites in the Baghdad area; with some areas having it removed at least twice a week. More than 20 healthcare facilities have been renovated, with many others in the process of being renovated.

Reconstruction of Fallujah (http://www.centcom.mil/CENTCOMNews/Stories/07_05/34.htm) is also progressing:

The US Army Corps of Engineers, in partnership with the Fallujah City Council and the Fallujah Reconstruction Committee, has made considerable progress in restoring water, sewage and electrical service in the city of Fallujah to levels that existed prior to Operation New Dawn (Al Fajr) in November 2004.

Elevated water storage tanks have been repaired and water is now at pre-November 2004 levels. Projects are underway to increase the capacity of the current system to modern standards. These projects will upgrade the current capacity of fresh water in the city by three million gallons per day.

The Fallujah Electric Department and the USACE have worked together to bring the level of electrical distribution up to approximately 80% of the existing system's capacity. They plan to bring the system up to 100% of its pre-November 2004 capacity by December 2005. The existing system is also being brought up to current standards. Every home and business in the city is scheduled to have safe and modern electrical connections by next spring.

A modern sewage collection system is under construction, which will replace the septic tanks currently in use. The system is 80% complete, and will remove waste from 3,100 homes. Construction of a sewage treatment facility is scheduled to start in about two months. Over the next several months, the USACE will finish construction on a health clinic, four schools, and four 250-man police stations. Construction of a 500 man police station will start later this year.

Also in Fallujah, troops are compensating the locals (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/Property+Leasing+Program+continues+in+Fallujah__11 11344.html?PHPSESSID=3d0898b29fc6dc73b8ca424988ec0 4c6):

Fallujah residents received approximately $203,000 in property lease payments during the second round of the Property Leasing Program last week. Second Marine Division marines and sailors, along with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), executed 139 leases during a two-day period.

The program, which began in June, was created to compensate local residents whose homes were or are currently occupied by coalition forces. Last month, 94 contracts were completed and $76,000 in payments were made in three days. "The impact is two-fold," Maj. Tom Nelson, 5th Civil Affairs Group economic development officer, said. "First, and most importantly, the people of Fallujah see us doing the right thing by paying them for the use of their properties. Secondly, we inject much-needed capital directly into the local economy."

The Army will soon be adding a lot of electricity (http://www.centcom.mil/CENTCOMNews/News_Release.asp?NewsRelease=20050712.txt) to the Iraqi grid:

A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers repair project at the Qudas electric power generating station 25 kilometers [15 miles] north of Baghdad is 85 per cent complete. Engineers predict the work will be finished within a month. Once operational, Qudas could increase the nation's electric production ten per cent. The plant's output capacity is 492 megawatts.

There is also more drinking water for Sadr City (http://www.centcom.mil/CENTCOMNews/Stories/07_05/32.htm):

The first of 27 new compact water treatment units officially opened in Sadr City July 19.

"The compact water units bring needed water to the residents while the expanded water system for Sadr City continues to develop," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Gary Luck, commander of 3rd Battalion 15th Infantry, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, the coalition unit which works with Sadr City.

"I want to thank the coalition forces for helping to bring this project to completion. The people of Sadr City will benefit from having clean water readily available to them," Sheik Jabar Nashour Jasim

Each water unit produces 15,000 liters of clean potable water a day.

"A total of 405,000 liters per day will be produced once all the of units are installed and operational," said Luck, who is from Salina, Kan. A compact water unit is a small water treatment facility, using well water or city water as a source of supply. The water is fully treated and ready for drinking.

In Baghdad, the troops are supporting the economic empowerment of local women (http://www.defendamerica.mil/articles/jul2005/a071305la1.html):

One mission that has remained constant for the U.S. soldiers of 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division since arriving in Iraq is helping to rebuild the civilian infrastructure. This is done in many ways, but the intent is to have Iraqis rebuild Iraq.

Although a small project for the Al Rasheed district, the opening of the Jihad Sewing School July 5 was a big step forward in improving the local economy.

"The school is small but they are training about 15 to 20 women and when they finish, they will be able to go directly into the work force and put their skills to use," said Capt. Christian Neels, 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment civil-military operations officer, and native of Muscatine, Iowa. The school teaches women to use sewing machines to make clothing and a variety of other items. These items can be sold on the local economy or the women can get a job in a local factory.

In Najaf (http://www.blackanthem.com/TheAllies/2005071704.html), Army engineers have their hands full with a number of security and other infrastructure projects:

An Iraqi female police station tops the list of more than a dozen active construction and planned projects by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Gulf Region South District in Najaf.

The female police facility will be used to train female cadets to properly search other females at the many checkpoints and security stops throughout Iraq. The contract for the facility is expected to be awarded by the middle of July and carries a price tag of about $150,000.

Three other police station projects will be under construction by the middle of July and are in Waf'a and Najaf city. Two are police stations and one will be a headquarters building. The projects carry a price tag of $130,000 for the Waf'a police station, $158,000 for the Najaf EOD station and $26,000 for the Najaf headquarters facility. Planned improvements include new windows, doors and security walls. Other projects planned in the city include the Al Shorta Substation with a cost of $3.8 million and a water treatment unit at Rmol Al Shebl for $215,000 and the Najaf Teaching Hospital. The hospital is a viable operational outpatient clinic capable of outpatient surgeries and emergency room visits is ready for the next phase of renovation which will include an industrial kitchen, multiple stories and many outlying buildings. The project has a total cost of more than $15 million.

Goodwill actions (http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/story.php?f=1-292925-991310.php) are regular fixture among the troops:

Despite the blistering summertime heat, more than 200 children and community members gathered at the Bayaa Youth Center in the Al Rashid district to participate in a uniform and wheelchair distribution, followed by a soccer game July 13.

"The event was outstanding and turn-out was great," said Capt. Jeffrey LaPlante, commander of Company B, 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.

"When we arrived, a group was already practicing hurdles at the track and kids were playing soccer," said LaPlante, a native of Lakeland, Fla.

The Bayaa Neighborhood Council had been conducting public assistance projects to improve the quality-of-life of residents in their neighborhood during the past two weeks.

In addition to the soccer match that afternoon, a community health screening was conducted where more than 300 people were treated for minor illnesses by Iraqi doctors and given food and other humanitarian aid.

The community program also provided complete soccer uniforms, soccer balls, and a variety of other items for the 240 children involved in the Bayaa Youth Soccer League. There was enough equipment to outfit 15 teams. Program coordinators distributed wheelchairs to disabled persons in the area.

Australian soldiers (http://www9.sbs.com.au/theworldnews/region.php?id=115880&region=7) will soon be contributing to reconstruction of southern Iraq:

The Australian government will fund community projects in southern Iraq worth A$2 million [US$1.5 million], including the building of an ambulance station and mobile health clinic.

Defence Minister Robert Hill said the A$2.3 million worth of projects would be coordinated by a working group within the Australian army's Al Muthanna Task Group (AMTG) and would ensure Australia left a lasting legacy in southern Iraq. . . . The projects include the construction of a veterinary centre in the rural centre of Darraji, a veterinary medical storage facility at As Samawah, renovating the As Samawah grain silo laboratory, providing equipment for Al Muthanna media outlets, constructing an animal waste disposal unit in As Samawah, building an ambulance station at Al Khidr, providing a mobile health clinic for the Al Muthanna province, renovating a community centre at Al Salman, and supplying water testing kits for the Al Muthanna province.

More here (http://www.blackanthem.com/TheAllies/2005071604.html).

Romanians and Italians (http://www.centcom.mil/CENTCOMNews/Stories/07_05/29.htm) are training Iraqi troops:

At the moment, the Romanian forces, in cooperation with Italian Multinational Specialized Unit (MSU), have finished the first two training courses, based on teaching techniques, procedures and tactics in Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT) with a duration of three weeks, completing the last course in the first week of July.

Captain Laurentiu Matei, Chief of the Security Sector Reform project from "Calugareni" said: "Iraqi soldiers are very interested in what we are teaching them and they were improving from week to week". Led by Captain Marius Serban, about forty Romanian instructors are currently participating in the training duties of the IA held in White Horse IA base (10 km [6 miles] from Camp Mittica) using their knowledge and skills for the benefit of the IA officers and soldiers.

And this from the Italians (http://www.adnki.com/index_2Level.php?cat=Politics&loid=8.0.189961846&par=0):

The Italian government has granted 300,000 dollars to the cultural centre in Nassiriya, the city in the southeastern Dhi Qar province where Italian soldiers, part of the US-led multinational force deployed in the country, are based. The centre, on the ground floor of the province headquarters, will have state of art material and equipment and will include a theater, a library, a cinema, a meeting room and a modern media equipment.

Also: Italian troops are renovating al-Nasiriya's General Hospital (http://www.azzaman.com/english/index.asp?fname=news2005-07-2610460.htm) at a cost of $2 million. . . . The hospital is vital for the nearly one million inhabitants of Dhiqar Province of which Nasiriya is the capital, as it is the only provincial health institution with the ability to carry out major operations. But most of the hospital's medical equipment is either outdated or idle. Lack of funds and resources prevented its rehabilitation. The work by the Italians is the first attempt to repair the hospital since it was built in the early 1980s. A huge fire last year had damaged several wards in the 10-storey building.

• Security. There is no doubt that the highest security priority in Iraq at the moment is to train a sufficient number of soldiers and policemen so that Iraqis themselves are able to defeat terrorists and insurgents. It may be the most dangerous job in Iraq, but there is no end to recruits (http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2005-07-20-iraq-recruits_x.htm):

Less than an hour after a suicide bomber detonated an explosives vest outside an army recruiting center here Wednesday, killing at least six people, Iraqi security officials were talking about the next working day.

"We'll be open first thing in the morning," said Sgt. Abbad al-Zarah, a commander with the security platoon in charge of securing the site. "And there'll be recruits."

The morning blast outside the center was the seventh attack there this year, including a suicide bombing 10 days earlier at the same gate that killed 21 would-be recruits, the Interior Ministry said.

But the barrage of lethal attacks has not stopped recruits from returning. Two days after the July 10 attack, where a bomber snuck past guards and detonated a bomb among waiting recruits, a line formed on Damascus Street for applications. "I had to turn people away," said Ahmed Hatem Muhsin, a guard at the gate. "People in Iraq are strong. Stupid and strong."

Another story here (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/07/25/wirq25.xml&sSheet=/news/2005/07/25/ixworld.html): "Defiantly, they ignore the bombs and queue to join the Iraqi army."

Training courses continue to graduate soldiers and junior leaders (http://www.noticias.info/asp/aspComunicados.asp?nid=84012&src=0):

A new crop of Iraqi soldiers and leaders completed their training at Kirkush Military Training Base here on July 13. Basic Combat Training Class 11 held a ceremony to celebrate the completion of the eight-week course on the 13th of July. The Iraqi Training Battalion trained the group of over 990 recruits. . . . The same day, the base also held a passing out ceremony to celebrate the tandem graduations of the Iraqi Army's Squad Leader and Platoon Sergeant Courses. Soldiers from across Iraq attended the four-week courses run by the Iraqi Training Brigade. The courses are designed to foster leadership in the growing Iraqi noncommissioned officers corps. More than 230 soldiers completed the Squad Leader Course and 42 graduated the Platoon Sergeant Course.

There's also training for female soldiers (http://www4.army.mil/ocpa/read.php?story_id_key=7637):

Breathing, squeezing the trigger and keeping the enemy in sight are just a few of the technical shooting techniques taught by 1st. Sgt. Amir Jabar Taleb of the 1st Iraqi Army Brigade, 6th Division, to some of the first female Soldiers inducted into the Iraqi Army.

For the first time in Iraq's history, Iraqi leadership at an Iraqi base conducted an all-female IA basic training course. Over the past two weeks, 27 female recruits have had intensive training to learn the necessary skills to become a Soldier. "They learned how to use weapons, map reading and battle tactics to engage the enemy during combat," said Brig. Gen. Jaleel Khalaf Shawail, commanding general of the 1st Iraqi Army Bde., 6th Div.

More troops and navy personnel have graduated in the south (http://www.almendhar.com/english_4641/news.aspx):

The tenth division on the Iraqi army and navy force has organized two separate celebrations for the graduation of two new classes of volunteers in Basra city.

Brigadier general Saad Al Harbia, commander of the second brigade of the tenth division, said, "180 volunteers have finished their major training to join the division forces, after they received various military sciences in theoretical lectures and mobilization exercises, in which officers from the Italian and Romanian forces working within the multinational forces, have participated. In Om Qasr region, the navy and coastal defense force has conducted the ceremony for the graduation of a new group of volunteers to support these growing forces with new elements that are capable of protecting the national waters and coasts.

U.S. Air Force personnel have done good work training the new Iraqi air force (http://www.blackanthem.com/scitech/2005071601.html):

Pope [Air Force Base] maintainers were chosen based on their skill levels and backgrounds for an elite, six-month mission involving the new Iraqi air force. Later, they learned not only would they be teaching the new Iraqi 23rd Transportation Squadron on how the United States Air Force does business, they were empowered to create the entire training process.

It wasn't a simple task; bridging the technical language barrier is never easy. In addition, the Iraqi personnel were used to working on old Soviet equipment. But the mission has been accomplished:

After months of training and bonding the training paid off. The peak of Sergeant McDaniel's Air Force career was when he flew on an Iraqi Air Force C-130 into a combat zone while being piloted by Iraqi pilots. 'Over and over they said, tell people in the U.S. about us how we appreciate the freedom we have been given and appreciate all the military has done and sacrificed for us,' said Sergeant McDaniel.

The Iraqi navy (http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/Story.asp?Article=116860&Sn=BNEW&IssueID=28114) prepares to take over the security of territorial waters:

Commodore Task-Force (CTF) 58 Royal Australian Navy (RAN) commodore Steve Gilmore said the Iraqi forces are currently part of the task force, which includes US, British and Australian coalition forces charged with protecting and patrolling the Gulf.

He said their mission is to detect, deter and deny terrorists or extremists posing a serious threat to key maritime infrastructures in the region, such as the Iraqi oil terminals.

"As part of our mission, we are also integrating the Iraqi naval force into our task force," he said.

"They are actually replacing coalition units rather than working alongside them."

Cmdr Gilmore, who was speaking on board guided missile cruiser USS Normandy which is anchored at Mina Salman, said they are beginning phase two of the three-phase process of preparing Iraqis to take command control of their waters. "Over the next 12 months the pieces will be put together after the Iraqi Navy take on new equipment and achieve higher training and expertise," he said.

Iraqi police training (http://www.blackanthem.com/TheAllies/2005072304.html) continues:

Almost 200 cadets became full-fledged Iraqi police officers in a graduation ceremony July 23--the last such class to be trained by Task Force Liberty. The new officers spent over two weeks at the 4th Iraqi Army Training Academy here and learned a variety of things, to include hand-to-hand combat, urban tactics, arrest procedures, search techniques, traffic control points, in addition to rifle and pistol training.

Says Cadet Unis Hamid Salman Almujami: "I want security for Iraq, for my family, my children's family, and even visitors from outside Iraq, because this is a free country. . . Everyone is welcome here, except for terrorists, because we want to live in peace."

With more trained recruits swelling the ranks, Iraqis are assuming a greater security role. In the past week, Iraqi and American authorities have formed five joint committees (http://www.kuna.net.kw/home/story.aspx?Language=en&DSNO=755282) charged with transforming security responsibilities from Multinational forces to Iraqi security troops.

"Army Major General Joseph Taluto, commander of the multi-national division in the north-central part of the country (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/Iraqi+forces+take+greater+control%2C+official+says __1111333.html?PHPSESSID=be4cce277be57e327e8189296 28d095b), told reporters in Baghdad July 15 that Iraqi security forces 'are already conducting over half of the operations that we do.' The Iraqis are either integrated into coalition operations or carrying them out with minimal coalition support, Taluto said, and 'that's a huge accomplishment.' "

With boots on the ground, Sgt. Robb Kidwill (http://news.mywebpal.com/partners/680/public/news646998.html), who's teaching Iraqi troops leadership procedures at Forward Operation Base Cobra with the Tennessee Army National Guard's 278th Regimental Combat Team, says: "We have slowly transitioned from a point where we led to a point where we assisted, and now we are in a mentoring role in many ways."

On July 12, an Iraqi army battalion trained by Bulgarian and Polish soldiers took over control (http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2005-07/13/content_3213626.htm) of an area in southern Baghdad.

In Kirkuk (http://www.blackanthem.com/TheAllies/2005071601.html), the American troops are also stepping back:

As the battle against insurgency continues in Iraq, U.S. forces in Kirkuk are taking the backseat and putting Iraqi police (IP) up front and in control.

Soldiers of 3rd platoon, Company B, 2nd Battalion, 116th Brigade Combat Team have been working with the Kirkuk police for almost six months and said they feel confident that it's time for the Iraqis to be seen as in charge. "The Iraqi police have been running traffic control points (TCP) since May and they have been doing a pretty good job," said Staff Sgt. Brad E. Attebery, a Soldier with the 3rd platoon and native of Weiser, Idaho. "Now we stay out of sight so the town of Kirkuk sees its police out in front doing their job."

Read also this story of a true pioneer, a 34-year-old mother of four, Sgt. Bushra Jabar (http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/003200507201010.htm), the first woman in her unit:

As Jabar strides down the street, she draws snickers from women covered from head to toe in abayas (robes and veils).

"For them, it's amazing," Jabar said. "Maybe it's the first time they see a woman with a uniform or with pants." The young girls she meets are fascinated, asking her questions and posing with her for pictures.

Meanwhile, the first all-female police station (http://www.iwpr.net/archive/ipm/ipm_287.html) has been opened in Najaf, to deal with cultural and religious sensibilities that prevent male police officers searching female suspects.

And this is what they are fighting against--a TV program that documents the confessions of Sheik Zana (http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/07/18/news/erbil.php), leader of a Kurdish jihadi cell, who for a decade has been terrorizing the north of the country in cooperation with Islamic terrorist groups. Iraqi viewers have seen taped confessions before, but this case is different: Sheik Zana's confessions, delivered in Kurdish, stand out because he and his followers had a habit of videotaping not only what appear to be horrific murders and rapes, but also sex among themselves and with the young men whom they were trying to recruit for their cause.

In stories of security cooperation from ordinary Iraqis:

"An East Baghdad resident alerted Iraqi Soldiers that a terrorist was preparing to fire a rocket (http://www4.army.mil/ocpa/read.php?story_id_key=7585) at around 8:30 a.m. July 10. Coalition Soldiers responded immediately and cordoned off the suspected site. After searching the area, the Iraqi Soldiers discovered the rocket ready to be fired from an improvised launcher and safely disarmed the rocket launcher and took it back to their base. The terrorists were not seen or captured."
Army Maj. Gen. Joseph Taluto, commander of Task Force Liberty, which is active in cities of Balad, Kirkuk, Tikrit and Samarra, reports a 150% increase (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/Iraqi+forces+take+greater+control%2C+official+says __1111333.html?PHPSESSID=be4cce277be57e327e8189296 28d095b) in tips from the public about weapons caches and suspicious vehicles and individuals.
On July 15 in Baghdad, "soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 156th Infantry Regiment, captured three personnel (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jul2005/20050718_2102.html), all positively identified as targets. The 2-156th personnel knocked on doors when the targeted houses turned up empty, and citizens of the neighborhood led soldiers to the suspected terrorists."
"A group of Iraqis stopped a Task Force Baghdad unit patrolling in southeast Baghdad July 15 and told the Soldiers they'd found some weapons (http://www.blackanthem.com/TheAllies/2005071902.html). The patrol followed the Iraqis to the site and found two mortar tubes and three base plates, one rocket-propelled grenade launcher, 17 mortar rounds, 39 artillery rounds and 25 boxes of hand grenades."
A cache of mortars (http://www.blackanthem.com/News/2005072403.html) was placed on the side of the road for a patrol from Third Squadron, Seventh Cavalry, Second Brigade Combat Team, Third Infantry Division to discover on July 22, in the same spot where locals have previously placed ammunition for collection. Says Maj. Russ Goemaere: "We would prefer civilians not place themselves at risk by handling munitions in this manner. We would prefer they just tell us where to find the munitions so we can remove them safely. We are pleased, however, that the citizens of Iraq are supporting the cause of democracy and helping to protect their community."

August 1st, 2005, 06:01 AM
In other recent security successes:

On July 10, "during a routine patrol in the Ameriyah District . . . Iraqi and Coalition Forces noticed a black BMW parked in the driveway of a house that was typically unoccupied. Soldiers searched the house and found a bag of raw C-4 plastic explosives (http://www4.army.mil/ocpa/read.php?story_id_key=7585) and four other containers believed to be filled with explosives." More weapons and munitions were found inside the house.
The capture of Khamis Farhan Khalaf Abd al Fahdawi, known as Abu Seba (http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000087&sid=a_yCx2sDRaec&refer=top_world_news), a senior Al Qaeda operative suspected of the murder of the Egyptian diplomat; he was among 30 suspected terrorists arrested in Ramadi on July 10.
Twenty-two suspects (http://www.estripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=30307) rounded up during the latest phase of Operation Scimitar around Fallujah in the runup to July 11.
"Iraqi Security Forces and Task Force Baghdad soldiers wounded and captured a suicide bomber (http://www.defendamerica.mil/articles/jul2005/a071405la2.html) [July 14] before he could blow himself up near a Coalition checkpoint in central Baghdad."
Thirty-nine suspects (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jul2005/20050718_2102.html) arrested in joint American and Iraqi operations in Baghdad on July 15.
Seventy-seven suspects (http://www.almendhar.com/english_4613/news.aspx), including some wanted terrorists, arrested in Fallujah and throughout Diyala province on July 16 and 17.
On July 17, soldiers from Second Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment fended off two suicide car attacks (http://www.armytimes.com/story.php?f=1-292925-980445.php) while on patrol in Rawah, near the Syrian border.
"Multi-National Forces from Task Force Freedom and Iraqi Security Forces detained eight suspected terrorists (http://www.blackanthem.com/TheAllies/2005071802.html) during separate operations in northern Iraq [Mosul and Tal Afar] on July 17."
Three insurgents killed and 29 suspects captured (http://www.blackanthem.com/TheAllies/2005071903.html) by Iraqi security forces and Task Force Baghdad soldiers in a series of operations in and around Baghdad on July 17.
"Iraqi Security Forces and Coalition Forces from Task Force Freedom seized a large weapons cache, detained eight suspected terrorists, and killed five terrorists during operations in northern Iraq July 17 and 18. Iraqi Police with support of Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment seized a large weapons cache during a raid operation in western Mosul July 18. The cache consisted of over 1,000 mortar rounds (http://www.blackanthem.com/TheAllies/2005071905.html), over 25 mortar firing systems, 150 rockets, 450 rocket propelled grenade rounds, 26 RPG launchers, numerous missile firing systems, shape charges, improvised explosive devices, and over 30 assorted rifles."
Twenty suspects detained (http://www.blackanthem.com/News/2005071915.html) and an arms cache recovered during operations in Tal Afar, Mosul and Rawah on July 18.
"Soldiers from the 256th Brigade Combat Team and the 6th Iraqi Army Division are taking part in Operation Warrior's Rage (http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=29646&archive=true), a series of 'cordon and search operations and combat patrols,' officials said Monday [July 19]. Some 70 suspected insurgents were snared in what the military called 'targeted raids' seeking specific individuals."
On July 19, a joint American/Iraqi raids in Baghdad's Ameriyah district and Al Dora neighborhood "led to the capture of four suspected terrorists, including an individual believed to be a mid-level terrorist cell leader with ties to Ansar Al Sunna. . . . During operations July 18, the military reported that Iraqi security forces and Task Force Baghdad soldiers detained 17 individuals and uncovered as many as six roadside bombs (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jul2005/20050719_2121.html) at various locations. . . . The previous day . . . in a large military operation in east Baghdad, Iraqi Special Police commandos raided 19 targets and captured 24 more terror suspects."
Fifty suspects (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0507190243jul19,1,3686077.story?coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed&ctrack=1&cset=true) captured on the first day of a new security operation by Iraqi troops in Baghdad on July 19.
"Security officials said the Interior Ministry has discovered an insurgent plan (http://www.iwpr.net/archive/ipm/ipm_286.html) led by one of the high-ranking official of the ministry. The plan was to blow up the ministry and the headquarters of the Magaweer forces (commandos), and bomb the al-Shaab stadium with mortars during the final match of the Iraqi League. The plan also was to assassinate some of the Arab and foreign ambassadors of Egypt, Bahrain, Turkey, Iran, and Lebanon to rid Iraq of Arab and foreign diplomats."

"The 1-24 U.S. Infantry Regiment along with the 1st Battalion 3rd Brigade, 2nd Iraqi Army Division make two discoveries over the last 72 hours [to 21 July] that gathered enough weapons and explosives to kill thousands of people (http://www.allheadlinenews.com/cgi-bin/news/newsbrief.plx?id=2243944220&fa=1). U.S. Forces uncovered a hidden cache of weapons in the floor of a chicken coop in Mosul. The weapons and explosives include 26 surface-to-air missiles, 700 mortar rounds, 450 rocket-propelled grenades, and 150 57-mm artillery rockets. Iraqi forces made their discovery about 60 miles south of the Mosul location in the town of Qayyarah, where they confiscated six 1,000 pound bombs in a raid."
"U.S. soldiers captured nine terrorists (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jul2005/20050723_2199.html) July 22 after they were seen placing an improvised explosive device. . . . The soldiers saw two vehicles pull to the side of a road north of Forward Operating Base Kalsu. Nine men armed with AK-47 assault rifles got out and began placing an improvised explosive device. The soldiers engaged the men with small arms fire and captured five wounded terrorists. Four others, one of them wounded, fled and were captured by another U.S. patrol."
Iraqi security forces arrested 119 suspects (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jul2005/20050724_2201.html), including three specifically targeted individuals and discovered variety of weapons in security operations in and around Baghdad on July 22 and 23.
Twenty-two suspects, including eight Egyptian nationals (http://www.kuna.net.kw/home/Story.aspx?Language=en&DSNO=754410), arrested after a gunfight when the Iraqi police stormed a building in the Yousefiyah district of Baghdad on July 23.
"A suspected mastermind (http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-5162002,00.html) of [a] devastating attack in Musayyib was captured during a raid by Iraqi forces in which two of his associates were killed, police said Saturday [July 23]. . . . The suspect was captured in a raid in the nearby town of Jarf al-Sakhr."
"Soldiers from the 150th Engineer Battalion, 155th Brigade Combat Team, captured more than 100 suspected terrorists (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jul2005/20050724_2201.html) [on July 24] near Owesat. The soldiers also seized and destroyed a cache of weapons that included 186 mortar rounds, three 122 mm artillery rounds, 65 hand grenades, 500 pounds of explosives, rocket-propelled grenades, launchers, small-arms ammunition, and aiming equipment."
A weapons cache (http://en.for-ua.com/news/?id=1478) discovered and secured by the Ukrainian troops.
The capture by Iraqi commandos of Hamdi Tantawi (http://today.reuters.co.uk/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2005-07-27T133916Z_01_KWA748458_RTRUKOC_0_IRAQ-CAPTURE.xml), an Egyptian associate of Al Qaeda's No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, in a raid on a farmhouse near the town of Yusufiya on July 27.

August 1st, 2005, 07:59 AM
It's a long read Dj, but it is well worth it. People from all over the world are working on this and the women in Iraq are getting involved. This can only be a good thing. :thumbup:

August 2nd, 2005, 12:32 AM
It's a long read Dj, but it is well worth it. People from all over the world are working on this and the women in Iraq are getting involved. This can only be a good thing. :thumbup:

Yup its actually nice to see tidbits of news showing the global effort to rebuild iraq. It was also nice to read about our own arizona congressman helping out:

An Arizona congressman, meanwhile, is helping Iraqi children with facial defects or injuries (http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/0717AZinDC17.html):

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., underwent his first operation for a cleft palate as age 2 weeks, and since then has had 10 more related operations.

He says he considers himself lucky for the improvements those operations have made.

"It's been painful," Franks, 48, said in an interview. But he said the improvements have meant things as basic as being able to speak more clearly.

Now, the two-term congressman is trying to help Iraqi children who have had the same birth defect, as well as other Iraqi children suffering from facial injuries or abnormalities.

On Thursday, Franks traveled to Amman, Jordan, for the first mission of what is being called the Iraq initiative of "Operation Smile," an organization whose doctors perform operations on children to help correct or minimize their facial defects or injuries.

The mission kicks off what is anticipated to be a five-year effort geared to the children of that country. Until now, the program has not been available to Iraqi children. In all, as many as 50 Iraqi children were to be brought to Amman this weekend to be treated by a team of volunteer surgeons.

You can check up here (http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/0724Franks-children.html) on the progress of the mission.

August 2nd, 2005, 06:35 PM
Yup its actually nice to see tidbits of news showing the global effort to rebuild iraq. It was also nice to read about our own arizona congressman helping out:

I met him. He's a real nice person. You could never tell he had a cleft palate.

August 2nd, 2005, 07:01 PM
It is ridiculous to compare us conquering Iraq to the American Revolution.

When exactly would their Independence day be? The day we finally pull out I suppose, or the day the inevitable Civil War is won.

August 16th, 2005, 06:54 AM

'The Terrorists and the Media'
A roundup of the past two weeks' good news from Iraq.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005 12:01 a.m. EDT

Conservative activist and commentator L. Brent Bozell III (http://www.nationalledger.com/artman/publish/article_272689.shtml) recently wrote about an encounter with a veteran:

My son's friend Todd Jones just returned from a tour of duty in Iraq. At a celebratory gathering at his parents' home, we chatted a while, and I asked him what he thought were the biggest problems facing the military. Without hesitating, he shot back: "The terrorists and the media."For Bozell, this pretty much confirmed what many others, on both side of the camera, have been saying lately:

In a rare moment of balance on CBS, Army Capt. Christopher Vick echoed that sentiment: "I think it's hard for Americans to get up every day and turn on the news and see the horrible things that are going on here, because there's no focus on the good things that go on. What they see is another car bomb went off." This kind of coverage is exactly what the terrorists are seeking to achieve, believes Vick.

Mark Yost, who served in the Navy during the Reagan years, caused a stir in media circles for stating the obvious in an editorial in the St. Paul Pioneer Press: "to judge by the dispatches, all the Iraqis do is stand outside markets and government buildings waiting to be blown up." On CNN's "Reliable Sources," host Howard Kurtz asked Frank Sesno, a former Washington bureau chief for CNN, about the Yost column. Sesno acknowledged you get more depth from print coverage, but suggested "even then, the bias is towards that which is going wrong, that which is blowing up and that which is not working." He said Americans ask: "Is anything getting rebuilt? Are they really democrats over there? How engaged are the Sunnis? Could I see an interview with any of these founding fathers and founding mothers of this new emerging country? Can you find that? You'll have a hard time doing it."

The question is not whether bad things happening in Iraq should be reported back home--they should, and there are clearly many of them, a fact that no one is denying--but whether positive developments should also receive the media's attention. Judging by the coverage, the media's answer seems to be, not very often.

Here are the past two weeks' worth of underreported and often overlooked good news from Iraq.

August 16th, 2005, 06:55 AM

• Society. With the constitutional process under way--albeit delayed by a week (http://breakingnews.iol.ie/news/story.asp?j=152693680&p=y5z694386)--and another election on the horizon, there are growing efforts (http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/MOU543027.htm) by the Sunni leadership to make sure that this time their community does participate in the political process:

Sunni preachers have called on Iraq's Sunni Arabs to take part in upcoming elections, signalling a possible new trend towards joining a Shi'ite dominated political process that Sunni insurgents have rejected. . . .

"It is a duty for all those here to take part in the upcoming elections so that we are not politically marginalised," imam Abdul-Sattar al-Jumaili told a crowd of some 600 people in Falluja, a former insurgent stronghold west of Baghdad.

"I call upon you to register your names in Falluja and other cities. You should not feel awkward about voting since you will be helping to remove the occupiers and embarrass those who benefited from the last election," he told a packed mosque.

Many prominent Sunnis have said the January boycott was a mistake since it limited their ability to influence the future shape of the country, now run by a Shi'ite-led government. . . .

A message similar to that in Falluja was delivered at the "mother of all battles" mosque in Baghdad.

"We have to be engaged with our brothers in this country by a calm dialogue," imam Mahmoud al-Sumaida'i told a congregation at Friday prayers in the large shrine. "Therefore let us all participate in this dialogue in order to rebuild Iraq."

The Iraq the Model blog has more (http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/2005/08/sunni-parties-appear-to-be-preparing.html) on this topic.

More broadly, public participation (http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=15287&Cr=iraq&Cr1=) in the constitutional process has been encouraging:

Nearly a quarter of a million Iraqis of all ethnic and religious groups have taken part in meetings to help draft their country's new constitution, despite security challenges and problematic day-to-day living conditions, a preliminary United Nations report issued today said.

"This is nothing short of extraordinary when difficult living, transportation and communication facilities are exacerbated by an equally demanding security situation," it said of the schedule of meetings during the run-up to the 15 August deadline to complete the draft.

Tallying the participation so far at more than 220,000 people, the report said: "The United Nations salutes the bravery of Iraqis who have often risked their lives in order to contribute to the constitutional process." . . .

The highlights included radio and television debates. a conference of 1,500 Imams and a forum of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) which had distributed questionnaires on federalism, Shari'a law and women's rights. In these venues members of the CDC and the Transitional National Assembly listened to people's views, the report said.

"Women's groups have been particularly active, with literally dozens of conferences demonstrating that, although they have a great variety of views, Iraqi women have a common aspiration to increase their level of participation in politics," it said. In the last several weeks, addressing "important gaps in the activity," the CDC also met with some 20,000 participants in the north-eastern Anbar, Ninevah and Saleh al-Din governorates, where there had been "a hunger for information," it said.

And here's an encouraging story of unity (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/13/AR2005081301209.html):

Rising up against insurgent leader Abu Musab Zarqawi, Iraqi Sunni Muslims in Ramadi fought with grenade launchers and automatic weapons Saturday to defend their Shiite neighbors against a bid to drive them from the western city, Sunni leaders and Shiite residents said. . . .

Dozens of Sunni members of the Dulaimi tribe established cordons around Shiite homes, and Sunni men battled followers of Zarqawi, a Jordanian, for an hour Saturday morning. The clashes killed five of Zarqawi's guerrillas and two tribal fighters, residents and hospital workers said. Zarqawi loyalists pulled out of two contested neighborhoods in pickup trucks stripped of license plates, witnesses said.

The leaders of four of Iraq's Sunni tribes had rallied their fighters in response to warnings posted in mosques by followers of Zarqawi. The postings ordered Ramadi's roughly 3,000 Shiites to leave the city of more than 200,000 in the area called the Sunni Triangle. The order to leave within 48 hours came in retaliation for alleged expulsions by Shiite militias of Sunnis living in predominantly Shiite southern Iraq.

"We have had enough of his nonsense," said Sheik Ahmad Khanjar, leader of the Albu Ali clan, referring to Zarqawi. "We don't accept that a non-Iraqi should try to enforce his control over Iraqis, regardless of their sect--whether Sunnis, Shiites, Arabs or Kurds.''

Meanwhile, free media continue to grow. Iraq's first independent news agency (http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/article/080805/iraq_nationa_news_agency_launched_by_reuters) is launched:

The Reuters Foundation has launched what it claims is Iraq's first "independent and commercially viable" news agency.

Last year the Foundation, a charity funded by Reuters, established an online "news exchange" called www.aswataliraq.info (http://www.aswataliraq.info/) (Voices of Iraq) as a way for Iraq freelances to share stories.

With funding from the United Nations Development Programme and the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation this has now been developed into a news agency run and staffed by Iraqi journalists with reporters in each of the country's 18 regional government areas.

So far Reuters Foundation has provided training for over 50 Iraqi journalists contributing to Voices of Iraq.

Reuters editor-in-chief Geert Linnebank said: "The development of a robust, independent and reliable media industry in Iraq is of fundamental importance to the world's understanding of this nation and its people. "This new agency, the first of its kind in Iraq's history, will have a profound effect on how this country's story is told. Staffed and run by local journalists reporting on their own people and governments, I am sure it will become an indispensable source which will provide a much fuller picture than we have today of the key issues and events really driving this country's development."

In early August, Iraqis officially took over the International Press Center (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,165229,00.html) in Baghdad:

The IPC, opened last year by Ambassador Paul Bremer, then head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, gave Iraq's media a major boost. The state-of-the-art facility was unlike anything else available to the media in the entire region. But it became just another good news story that received little attention from Western media outlets.

At the IPC, Iraqi journalists were trained in common media practices, taught how to set up and use e-mail accounts and instructed in using the Internet to conduct research. With access to newsmakers, high-speed Internet and satellite news channels, the IPC quickly became the everyday workplace of many Iraqi journalists, as well as journalists from around the world. . . .

In the year since the Coalition Provision Authority ceased existence, the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad has run the IPC. Now the Iraqis are taking charge. It's critical they keep it working at full efficiency, since a free press will be a major contributor to democracy in Iraq.

Luckily, the Americans are leaving major upgrades to the facility, upgrades that will provide journalists with the tools they need in the months and years ahead. Already the most advanced in the region, the IPC has recently received new equipment that will keep the facility on the cutting edge. In addition to new desks and chairs, 20 new desktop computers are on hand. These new computers provide more than 30 workstations for journalists in Iraq.

Additional new equipment includes 30 English-learning programs with headsets, an LCD projector, a scanner, a color copier, dozens of memory sticks, hundreds of blank CDs and floppy discs, CD writers and dozens of computer programs. This new equipment joins the satellite dishes, TVs, laser printers, copier, computers, refrigerators and other high-tech gadgets already being used by journalists. An additional 30 laptop computers will be given to some of the pioneering Iraqi journalists who have been using the facility since the day it opened. These new laptops will bring the journalists up to speed with their counterparts in the Western world and give them the mobility to cover stories wherever the news takes them.

And a radio station is courageously giving voice to Iraqi women (http://mediachannel.org/blog/node/396):

Three years ago, Majda Jabouri earned a small living as a housekeeper, the only job she could find after being imprisoned because of her family's opposition to the regime of then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Today, she hosts a popular daily call-in show on Radio Almahaba, Iraq's only station dedicated to women's issues, called "Cup of Tea." Most episodes are devoted to relationships, parenting, and other topics that would be familiar to any "Oprah" viewer. The show is also a product of its environment: a recent episode dealt with women's feelings of jealousy and powerlessness when their husbands take second wives.

The station was created with help from an American:

The station was founded by Deborah Bowers, an American humanitarian worker whose interest in Iraq was sparked by her experiences helping Iraqi war refugees adjust to life in upstate New York in the early 1990s. In 1995, Ms. Bowers and one of the refugees she had befriended, Steve Sharrif, created Opportunities for Kids International Inc., a relief agency devoted to Iraqi children. It has since sent medical supplies and thousands of pairs of children's shoes to the country.

Ms. Bowers, 50 years old, says that the idea for the station began with her Iraqi staffers, who saw Mr. Hussein's ouster by U.S.-led forces as an opportunity to dramatically improve the legal and political standing of Iraqi women. Although Mr. Hussein's government had been nominally secular, women had numerous restrictions on their daily lives, including an inability to leave the country without being accompanied by a spouse or male relative. Ms. Bowers developed a grant proposal for the station and presented it to the United Nations Development Fund for Women, which supports private initiatives around the world devoted to gender equality and women's rights. The U.N. agency ultimately gave her $500,000, which allowed the nascent station to purchase broadcasting and recording equipment and rent office space near the heavily fortified Palestine Hotel here. Employees chose the name Almahaba, and it began broadcasting to Baghdad and the surrounding area in March.

Now the station is actively campaigning for women's rights.

August 16th, 2005, 06:56 AM

• Economy. Iraq is a risky environment, but nevertheless it offers plenty of opportunities (http://www.tradearabia.com/tanews/newsdetails_snECO_article91050.html):

The conflict in Iraq has proved to be a challenging prospect for the international business community. Despite the passing of two years since the end of major hostilities, the security situation remains precarious for many parts of the country. However, business opportunities are still massive for those willing to take a chance, says a study by a UK expert.

Iraq's potential to become the largest market in the Middle East is well known, but there is a case for arguing that in recent months the incentive for potential investors has not been matched by innovation in methods of accessing the Iraqi market, says Patrick Forbes, head of external relations at the Arab-British Chamber of Commerce, in his report "Assessment of the Business Climate in Iraq."

The latest trade figures show that UK exports to Iraq increasing 100 per cent in the first quarter of 2005 over the first quarter of 2004. However, this total is a mere £47.3 million [$85.2 million], which amounts to a drop in the ocean when compared with the volume of British exports to the UAE for the same period: £1.025 billion [$1.8 billion], he says.

Despite the risks facing any businessman interested in working in Iraq, there can be no doubting the opportunities that exist to make healthy profits, across the board of sectors. With proven reserves of over 115 billion barrels--third in the world after Saudi Arabia and Iran--and yet only 1.9 million bbl/d being extracted in March 2005, the scope for activity in this field is well documented. With the Ministry for Oil announcing its intention to issue new tenders in the last quarter for contracts to develop 11 southern oilfields the oil sector will be a growth area for the Iraqi economy. With the electricity, water purification, and power generation sectors still needing considerable efforts to recover to pre-war levels, there will be room for anyone seeking to play a role in repairing essential services. In addition, the construction, finance, education, IT and telecommunications, and insurance sectors are undergoing efforts at regeneration, said the report.

USAID (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/KHII-6EV5QR?OpenDocument&rc=3&cc=irq) is assisting Iraqi banking sector and the government's financial administration:

In a critical milestone for Iraqi debt renegotiation, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) accepted Iraq's Monetary Survey. This survey is the culmination of two months of work with Central Bank of Iraq Research and Statistics staff and will be used to support negotiations relating to the IMF Standby Facility for Iraq. . . .
USAID representatives completed a two-part course for tax officials from northern Iraq on providing training on the new Corporate Income Tax Return. . . .
Sixteen Ministry of Planning and Development staff completed an Advanced Capital Budgeting Workshop. . . .
To harmonize banking standards throughout Iraq, USAID is working with bank officials to develop guidelines for credit policies and procedures for commercial banks on lending activities and credit files.
USAID is also helping promote Iraqi social welfare (http://www.reliefweb.int/library/documents/2005/usaid-irq-4aug.pdf) (link in PDF):

With the full support of Iraqi counterparts, USAID's economic advisors are working to create a social safety net to reduce poverty, child labor and social exclusion through cash transfers to poor families and dependant people. Advisors recently delivered an action plan which outlines a social safety net and a sustainable pension plan, by registering employees, accurate data collection for contributors and contributions, and effective control mechanisms. The economic advisors are also actively engaged with Iraqi counterparts to reform the pension structure so that it meets the needs of future Iraqi private sector labor growth.

A bold new reform plan is aiming to improve the crisis situation in housing (http://www.iraqdevelopmentprogram.org/idp/events/idpa/press/idppress005.htm):

A proposal has been drafted by Iraq's Ministry of Housing & Construction that would provide investors land in Iraq on a long term lease basis or at rates well below market level.

During this week's Iraq Development Program summit in Amman, Iraqi Deputy Minister of Housing & Construction Thaner Al-Feely and Program Director John Glassey confirmed that three million housing units are needed in Iraq and that only 10,000 units are currently available.

Feely was recently appointed chairman of investment in order to attract foreign direct investment into the country. Currently 70 per cent of property cost in Iraq is the cost of land. The return rate profit margin is expected to be at around 25 per cent, none of which will be taxed.

All foreign direct investment will be insured through the American Export-Import Bank.

The Iraqi Ministry of Housing & Construction is keen to set up a property system like that of the United Kingdom, which is based on a highly competitive building society market. In order to fulfil this objective, Mr Glassey will produce a white paper for the ministry to propose a high level meeting between the ministry, the international investment community, international property development investors, Iraqi builders and contractors, banks and building societies.

Read all about this manufacturing success story (http://www.azzaman.com/english/index.asp?fname=news2005-08-0310472.htm) in the middle of the insurgent territory:

Despite the upsurge in violence and mounting insecurity, a state enterprise in the restive Diyala province is doing roaring business.

The northeast province, of which Baquba is the capital, is a major insurgent stronghold in the country. Car and roadside bomb attacks occur almost on a daily basis.

But the escalating violence does not seem to have thwarted the ambitions of managers and workers at the Diyala Company for Electrical Industries to boost production.

The company has recently signed a 19 billion-dinar contract (approx. $140 million) to supply the ministries of oil, industry and communications with electrical transformers and meters as well as fiber optic cables.

"Within (current) efforts to reconstruct Iraq, the company has signed a 19.4 billion-dinar contract with the sectors of electricity, oil and communications," a company statement faxed to the newspaper said. The Diyala company is one of 45 such production enterprises in Iraq whose revenue with proper investment rehabilitation is projected to hit more than $300 million in 2006.

Up north, meanwhile, Suleymaniyah (http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/MAC843296.htm) revives, thanks in part to the efforts of one man:

He is one of the wealthiest men in Kurdistan, if not the whole of Iraq, and he has a mission: to open the country to business.

Faruk Mustafa Rasool, the chairman of mobile phone company Asiacell, the fastest growing of Iraq's three main operators, comes across as a modest man with a modest head office in Sulaimaniya. There is nothing modest about his ambitions, however.

Besides the phone company, into which he and partners such as Kuwaiti telecoms group Wataniya have ploughed $300 million since 1999, he has deals for two cement factories, a steel plant and a 28-storey five-star hotel in this booming city.

He is also thinking about cultural projects, apartment complexes, satellite broadcasting, wireless technology and computer training centres--the sorts of things that no one associates with the violence tearing Iraq apart.

However, if it can happen anywhere in Iraq right now, it can happen in Sulaimaniya, a city of about 700,000 inhabitants set in the mountains of the autonomous, northern Kurdish region, an attractive spot rapidly becoming a thriving business hub.

"Investment goes hand-in-hand with security and political stability, and here in Sulaimaniya we have both," Rasool told Reuters in an interview at his Asiacell headquarters, a low-rise blue-glass building in a small shopping centre. "Sulaimaniya is going to become one of the most developed cities in the Middle East within a few years--it will be Iraq's link to the outside world," he says with quiet confidence, a thick gold watch glinting on his wrist.

As the report notes, "Capital from the Gulf, Turkey, Lebanon and China is flooding in, while the Kurdish regional government, local investors and international donors have also injected funds. The total is in billions of dollars, according to Sulaimaniya's investment projects office, and it takes only a quick trip around the city to believe it, with huge construction sites buzzing with activity in every direction."

Suleymaniyah's prosperity is providing an increasing pull (http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/MAC042812.htm) on the rest of Iraq:

Each morning before dawn, hundreds of Arabs from southern Iraq gather near a mosque in this northern Kurdish city hoping to find work on one of scores of construction sites dotting the landscape.

What began 18 months ago as a trickle of poor, unemployed young men moving north to find work and escape violence in predominantly Arab areas has now turned into a rapid stream.

And it's no longer just the poor and jobless fleeing.

Professionals--including doctors, engineers and teachers--are following them, desperate to escape the chaos tearing cities such as Baghdad, Basra, Baquba and Hilla apart.

"I came here for safety, and for my family," says Dr Ali Alwan, 40, an eye specialist who moved from the southern city of Basra to Sulaimaniya in late 2003 and has since encouraged dozens of former colleagues to follow him.

"Here it is a wonderful life. The children are in school, my wife is happy and there is good work," he says. "I don't think I will ever return to Basra."

Around 25 eye specialists alone have since taken the same route out of Basra, he says. At the Razgari out-patient clinic in Sulaimaniya, eight of the 13 doctors are Arabs who arrived in the past two years, according to director Khalil Ibrahim Mohammed.

Young trainees, desperately needed in places like Baghdad and Basra where hospitals are understaffed and overworked, are also getting out. At Sulaimaniya's teaching hospital, 20 of this year's interns--the majority--are from Basra.

"Here things are normal, we are a normal hospital," says Karzan Sirwan, a Kurdish surgeon at the hospital. "I can understand why they come, and we need them too."

There are sometimes language barriers--most Arabs don't speak Kurdish--but since all Iraq's doctors are trained in English, they can communicate with one another, and translators are on hand to help doctors talk to Kurdish patients. It's a similar situation at Sulaimaniya's university, where 40 Arab professors have joined the staff in the past two years, university officials say.

In communications news, Iraq reclaims its good name (http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/computing/20050805-1406-iraqdomainname.html):

The Internet's key oversight agency has quietly authorized Iraq's new government to manage its own domain name, allowing for the restoration of Internet addresses ending in ".iq."

The suffix had been in limbo after the 2002 federal indictment of the Texas-based company that was running it on charges of funneling money to a member of the Islamic extremist group Hamas.

InfoCom Corp., which sold computers and Web services in the Middle East and got the ".iq" assignment in 1997, was convicted in April along with its chief executive and two brothers. The board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which oversees top-level domains, unanimously approved transferring the ".iq" name to Iraq's telecommunications regulator on July 28.

And one telecommunications company reaches an important milestone (http://www.almendhar.com/english_5188/news.aspx):

Ali Al Dahwi, director of Al Atheer Telecommunications in Iraq, confirmed that his company would get closer to one and a half million [subscribers] for cellular phones in Iraq, at an investment of 430 million dollars. He said that the company entered the competition in the Iraqi market two years ago, and through a short duration, in a race with time, it managed to go beyond the sum that it designated a an investment ($60 million), to serve about 300 thousand [subscribers] in southern regions. Its cellular phone services have expanded to other regions, such as Al Anbar and Diala, in addition to covering the border regions, as well.

In oil news, while in June production stood at 1.44 million barrels a day, in July it rose (http://www.menareport.com/en/business,Oil_and_Energy/187119) to 1.6 million. In that month, Iraq earned $2.5 billion from oil sales. In early August (http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/050810/2005081001.html), the exports stood at 1.6 million barrels and the local consumption at 600,000.

Negotiations on the expansion of oil infrastructure get under way:

Iraq has made headway in talks (http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticle.asp?xfile=data/focusoniraq/2005/July/focusoniraq_July165.xml&section=focusoniraq) with 17 international firms to construct refineries designed to offset a shortage of oil products for local use, a source at the oil ministry said.

The refineries, to be constructed in Baghdad, Mosul and Basra, will have capacities ranging between 250,000-300,000 barrels per day, said the source, who asked for anonymity. He added that the ministry has plans to build mobile refineries with 10,000 b/d capacity to be increased later to 30,000 b/d in Arbil, Sulaimania, Amara, Haditha, Nassiriya and Diwaniya. He said existing refineries at Baiji and Dora in Baghdad and one in Basra were unable to meet the increasing demand for derivatives.

Specifically, two tenders (http://www.almendhar.com/english_5055/news.aspx) have already been announced:

The Iraqi oil ministry has called local and global companies to participate in a special tender for establishing a new refinery in Qoya region, near Quinsajaq district, between Erbil and Al Selaimania cities (north of Iraq), at a capacity of 70 thousands barrels a day. The total cost would be 400 million dollars; including tanks, infrastructure, and engineering works. The second refinery would be in Jarf Al Sakhr region (south of Baghdad); at a capacity of 140 thousand barrels a day, and a cost of 800 million--1 billion dollars. November 8, 2005, has been set as a deadline for submitting the documents of the tender on behalf of the competent countries.

Under a new agreement, Iraq will be exporting (http://www.kuna.net.kw/home/Story.aspx?Language=en&DSNO=756482) 35 million cubic feet of natural gas a day to Kuwait for five years. "The Kuwaiti side has also welcomed more Iraqi oil workers to receive training within Kuwaiti oil installations, and said it was ready to provide Iraq with spare parts necessary for its oil facilities."

There will also be cooperation with South Korea (http://times.hankooki.com/lpage/biz/200507/kt2005073119581411860.htm): The state-run Korea National Oil Corp. (KNOC) said yesterday that it will sign a memorandum of understanding with the Iraqi government in support of technology for oil development. . . . Under the deal, the KNOC will provide the ministry with state-of-the-art technologies for drilling oil and both sides will conduct a joint survey of Iraqi oil drilling blocs.

In transport news, twice-weekly flights between Baghdad and Istanbul (http://www.zaman.com/?bl=economy&alt=&hn=22370) are re-starting after 15 years. There is also a joint airport project (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/02/AR2005080201616.html) in the south of the country:

Iraq plans to build a multimillion-dollar international airport near the southern city of Najaf, a holy center for Shiite Muslims, that would be financed largely by a low-interest loan from Iran, according to Iraq's transportation minister. . . . The facility, which Maliki said would cost an estimated $20 million to $25 million, would largely serve religious pilgrims traveling to and from Iran. Maliki said it would also link the region to other countries and improve access to a range of tourist attractions. Najaf, which is 90 miles south of Baghdad, and nearby Karbala are home to several of the shrines deemed holiest to Shiites.

August 16th, 2005, 06:56 AM

• Reconstruction. Japan, in conjunction with the World Bank, will be engaging in a major residential building program (http://www.adnki.com/index_2Level.php?cat=Business&loid=8.0.194156290&par=0):

The World Bank and Japan will help finance the construction of 30,000 homes in war-ravaged Iraq, Iraq housing ministry has announced. The project, which will cost 1.2 billion dollars, an will involve money mostly provided by the Iraqi state, the World Bank, through long term loans and the Japanese government.

Japan is also donating $11 million to build six residential complexes (http://www.azzaman.com/english/index.asp?fname=news%5C2005-07-30%5C10467.htm) in Basra and Amara to house some of the Marsh Arabs of the south while the marshes are slowly regenerated. And Denmark (http://www.azzaman.com/english/index.asp?fname=news2005-08-0410473.htm) will build 300 houses in Badra for any Iraqi refugees currently living in Denmark who are willing to go back home.

Iraq reaches an electricity milestone (http://iraqiamericancci.org/iacci/stories/new_page_92.htm):

Iraq's electricity supply has risen above pre-war levels to 5,350 megawatts (MW) despite sabotage, boosted by hydroelectric power and more imports from Iran, Syria and Turkey, the minister in charge said on Thursday.

"Now electricity has reached a record after we broke 5,350 megawatts a few days ago for the first time since the war," Electricity Minister Mohsen Shalash told Reuters.

Iraq's emergency moves had eased electricity shortage during summer when temperatures can rise above 50 degrees centigrade (122 Fahrenheit), Shalash said in an interview in Amman during a stopover on his way to Iraq.

The rise in power supply of over 1,000 megawatts has come from an extra 500 megawatts generated by hydroelectric power after Turkey increased water flows from the Euphrates River to Iraqi dams while imports from Iran, Turkey and Syria added at least 350 megawatts in July.

A decade before the U.S. led invasion in 2003 capacity had fluctuated between 3,000 to 4,400 megawatts at its peak.

Iraq's power grid, battered by attacks by insurgents and long neglect is still producing only half the electricity needed despite international efforts to rebuild it. The forecast rise to 6,000 megawatts in August would come mainly from a doubling of imports from Iran to 200 megawatts and a similar jump in Turkey's exports to around 300 megawatts.

Longer term, however, Iraq will not be relying on importing electricity, and not just because of the cost:

Iraq's medium term plan was to implement $20 billion worth of electricity projects by 2010 to raise capacity to 18,000 megawatts solely through donor funding, Shalash said.

Iraq was in advanced talks with Japan on how to utilise the bulk of $3.5 billion of soft loans in electricity projects.

Iran was ready to give as much as $2-3 billion for power plants that its own firms can construct, Shalash added.

A recent visit to Germany had also won promises to access for the first time as much as $1 billion in soft loans by one of the major Western opponents of the U.S. led war, said Shalash.

The funds will finance several key projects such as degasification of flared liquefied natural gas for electricity.

Rehabilitation of major power plants of Mussayab, Nassiriya, Baiji and Baghdad's Dura would be completed by year end. An extra 500 megawatts will come on stream later this year from a 10 unit gas turbine plant constructed near the city of Mussayab which was originally due for completion in June 2004.

USAID is continuing with an electricity project north of Baghdad (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/KHII-6EV5QR?OpenDocument&rc=3&cc=irq):

At the Kirkuk substation, work on the V94 generator is being finalized. The Iraqi contractor is currently finishing the installation of the fuel gas supply, air compressor and electrical switches. Work also continues on erecting the generator's permanent gantry crane is used for access and maintenance. . . . USAID's work at the site will ultimately bring two new generators online, adding 325 MW of electrical generation capacity to the electrical grid. The recently completed V64 unit has added 65 MW to the national grid. Initial startup and synchronization of the V64 was achieved on January 3. The V94 generator, which will add 260 MW, is expected to be complete in the third quarter of 2005. The overall project is now 83 percent finished.

USAID is also working around the capital (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/KHII-6EY3PW?OpenDocument&rc=3&cc=irq): USAID partners rehabilitating Baghdad's electricity distribution substations have completed the necessary work to energize six of eight high priority substations in the Karkh and Ru-safa Districts. The goal was to finish work at the targeted sites in order to meet the higher power demands during the summer months. The remaining two sites will energize once the Ministry of Electricity (MoE) installs the 33kV and 11kV feeders. USAID has provided equipment for 37 sites altogether. Of these, USAID and its partners are working at 25 sites, while the Ministry of Electricity (MOE) is working at 12.

And USAID is at work on several major water projects (http://www.reliefweb.int/library/documents/2005/usaid-irq-28jul.pdf) (link in PDF):

Seven new raw water pumps have arrived at the Sharq-Dijlah water treatment plant for installation and the refurbishment of the Administration Building has been completed. USAID accepted responsibility to complete the expansion of the plant, which was begun under the Oil for Food Program. To further reduce anticipated water shortages in Baghdad, USAID is restoring the existing water treatment plant to its original capacity and providing the design for a second expansion at this site. Combined, the initial expansion and the plant restoration are expected to increase the supply of treated water by approximately 90 MGD [millions of gallons a day]. . . . The Iraqi subcontractor implementing the Baghdad Water Mains Rehabilitation project has laid 16.1 km [10 miles] of asphalt paving and 87.7 km [54.5 miles] of main line pipe to date which surpasses the original contract amount of 74 km [46 miles]. The current goal is to install 98km [61 miles] of mainline pipe. A total of 7,498 additional homes have been connected to the water mains.

In Basra province (http://www.azzaman.com/english/index.asp?fname=news2005-08-0610476.htm), the water situation is slowly improving, although there is still a long way to go:

Basra's water authority is constructing 12 small purification units that will eventually produce 25 cubic meters [6,600 gallons] of clean water every hour.

The authority's head, Abdulsattar Akef, said the new units fall short of meeting this southern city's thirst for clean water.

Providing Basra, the country's second largest city with clean water, is a real headache for the provincial authorities administering the city. . . .

Akef said conditions with regard to clean water were better in rural areas than in the city proper.

"In the countryside and villages clean water is relatively available in almost all the villages in the province (of Basra).

"We have rehabilitated 30 water purification units with a total capacity of 250 million cubic gallons a day. We have a better situation in rural areas than last year," he said.

But Basra itself, Akef, added will have to wait for a few more years to have full access to clean water. He said Japan has agreed to finance a giant purification plant for Basra that will produce 300 million gallons of water a day but will take three years to complete.

In education news, the United Nations (http://www.iraqdevelopmentprogram.org/idp/news/new919.htm) is also making a significant contribution towards rebuilding the system:

Nearly half a million Iraqi children will benefit from upgraded sanitation facilities at schools across the country this year as a result of United Nations (UN) initiatives aimed at raising a new generation of educated Iraqis to help their country rebuild from war. . . .

UN-backed efforts to improve conditions at 800 schools will foster safer conditions for some 460,000 boys and girls this year. The UN has been helping Iraq's Ministry of Education by providing over 1,300 directors with computer literacy and communications skills. Hundreds of computers were provided to schools which also received 36,000 sports and recreational materials.

Over 130 schools have been rehabilitated with UN assistance in the lower southern region, while in the north, the UN is working to renovate primary schools in rural communities where refugees are expected to return.

The UN is also procuring one million school bags for new first graders and five million school kits for all students up to the sixth grade. Rebuilding Iraq's schools benefits not only the students but also the thousands of workers who gain employment through the projects which have contributed to generating over 3,400 jobs per day.

USAID continues to help improve the infrastructure (http://www.reliefweb.int/library/documents/2005/usaid-irq-4aug.pdf), through projects such as this (link in PDF):

A women's teacher training center in Babil Governorate was renovated and restored through a grant from USAID's Community Action Program (CAP). The institute prepares women in the governorate to enter into careers in the field of education. After years of neglect, disrepair, and recent car bombings, the building was unsafe and barely usable. . . .

USAID's program to improve basic education in Iraq has awarded 41 grants to Iraqi contractors to date totaling $2,885,924, including five school rehabilitation grants, four grants for education training center rehabilitations, and 32 grants for replacing mud schools. As of July, the grants had supported the rehabilitation of education training centers in Baghdad, Arbil, Diyala and Hilla and the replacement of 32 mud schools. The model schools program team has finalized a list of 80 model schools in cooperation with the Ministry of Education (MOE). The model schools program seeks to establish four model schools in each MOE directorate to demonstrate improved systems and teaching methods. The team has also begun procuring student desks, laboratory equipment, and computers.

Meanwhile, the tenth group of academics who lost their jobs under Saddam for political reasons gets rehired (http://www.almendhar.com/english_5010/news.aspx) by the authorities:

This group includes 87 persons, who were decided to be rehired in six universities; Baghdad, Al Musel, Al Mostansereya, Al Kufa and Babylon, in addition to the technical education administration. The source clarified that until now, the ministry has rehired 2365 politically discharged or harmed persons in the ministry, the universities, and its affiliate administrations. He noted that the ministry has achieved more than 80% of its task, so far.

In health news, the World Health Organization recently conducted a successful campaign: A successful national Polio Vaccination Campaign (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/KHII-6EX3M4?OpenDocument&rc=3&cc=irq), conducted this week by the Ministry of Health, the World Health Organisation and other key health partners, reached 4.4 million children this week (according to the latest field reports). Of the target population of 4.7 million children, 93% was reached; in response to recent outbreaks of Polio in countries in the region. The second round of emergency National Immunisation Days ended successfully in all governorates, except small subdistricts in the Anbar Governorate, where 3,000 children were not accessed due to insecurity (plans are in place to cover these children once the situation allows).

A new USAID (http://www.reliefweb.int/library/documents/2005/usaid-irq-28jul.pdf) program aims to improve the skills and expertise of Iraqi doctors (link in PDF):

In early July, a group of 25 physicians from the Iraqi Ministry of Health graduated from a six-day Training of Trainers' workshop (TOT). Participants were representatives of various departments of the Ministry of Health and Primary Health Care Centers from across the country. . . .

USAID's Training Model Primary Providers (TMPP) program aims to support the Ministry of Health in training primary health care providers and other staff for 150 model primary health care centers currently under construction around the country. The training program will upgrade the technical knowledge, clinical and management skills and performance of center directors, physicians, nurses, medical assistants and other staff assigned to model centers. . . . This training program will provide approximately 1,400 physicians, 1,000 nurses, 2,100 medical assistants, and 150 center directors with improved knowledge and enhanced clinical and management skills, and an additional 5,000 center staff with strengthened team work and problem-solving skills. Improving staff skills will lead to enhanced services at model primary health care centers, with potential benefits for approximately 32,500 people per primary health care center, for a total of 4,875,000 beneficiaries at 150 primary health care sites around the country.

The World Health Organization is also working on the health infrastructure (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/KHII-6EX3M4?OpenDocument&rc=3&cc=irq):

The third stage of rehabilitation of the National Blood Transfusion Centre in Baghdad is 60% complete;
Of the 23 Primary Health Care Centre Rehabilitation Projects (each project consisting of up to 14 PHC centres) being undertaken, 4 are currently under the bidding process and 19 are in the stage of implementation. [Al-anba, Babel, Karbala (45%), Najaf (2%), Waste (90%), Baquba, Maysan, Erbil, Duhok, Basra, Nasrya, Muthana (55%), Karkuk group 1 (26%), Karkuk group 2 (34%), Basrah (52%), Salahdine (100%), Basrah (39%, Muthana (7%), Mousl (38%)].
Of the 19 Training Halls being rehabilitated, 2 are under the bidding process and 17 are in the stage of implementation [Karbala (95%), Maysan (51%), Salahadine (75%), Nasirya (30%), Dewanya (20%), Duhok (98%), Baquba (50%), Anbar (30%), Erbil (32%), Muthana (20%), Babel (41%), Kirkuk (36%), Basrah (46%), Najaf (20%),Waste (60%), Mousl (100%), Suleimanyah (100%)].
The Stage 1 rehabilitation of the National Drug Quality Control Laboratory is 92% complete.
The authorities have designated an additional sum of 450 billion dinars (http://www.almendhar.com/english_5185/news.aspx) ($306 million) for the purchase of medicines and equipment. There's also more help for Iraq's many victims (http://www.almendhar.com/english_5057/news.aspx) of past and present violence:

The health ministry decided to include all the disabled and the victims of terrorist explosions in comprehensive free service. A ministry official source said that the decision includes all the victims of explosions and terrorist acts, the disabled victims, the tyrannized by the former regime, and the disabled of former wars and military service, in addition to the disabled children, less than 13 years, the dwellers of the state homes and lodging centers, and the disabled, included n the law of social care.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is funding (http://www.harolddoan.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=4882) a private sector effort to help Iraqi poultry industry:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced that it will donate 21,250 metric tons of corn and 8,750 tons of soybean meal to the U.S. Grains Council, a private organization, for use in Iraq.

"Agriculture is vital to the Iraqi economy and this donation will help to revitalize their agriculture sector as an engine of economic growth," said Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns. "We are very pleased that USDA's food for progress program will help to improve the quality of life available to the Iraqi people." The U.S. Grains Council will sell the corn and soybean meal and use the proceeds to help revitalize the Iraqi poultry industry. The Council's program will provide a revolving loan fund for poultry producers, training in credit fund management, and trade capacity building for the Iraqi Poultry Producers Association.

USAID (http://www.reliefweb.int/library/documents/2005/usaid-irq-28jul.pdf) is also assisting with smaller-scale initiatives (link in PDF):

USAID's [Agricultural Reconstruction and Development for Iraq] program funded the construction of water storage basins in five Iraqi villages to improve irrigation. Each of the five 96 m3 basins will collect runoff from mountain springs for use during the summer season. . . . Six USAID-supported agriculture outreach teams, that will include a veterinarian and an agronomist/animal production specialist, will visit 240 villages to conduct workshops on diseases that are transmitted from animals to people.

In other recent programs (http://www.reliefweb.int/library/documents/2005/usaid-irq-4aug.pdf) (link in PDF):

USAID's Agriculture Reconstruction and Development for Iraq (ARDI) program is training 28 mechanics under a grant to improve access to agricultural machinery maintenance services in rural areas. . . .

To create an infrastructure for a nationwide price information system among produce traders and farmers, USAID's ARDI program provides a daily report of fruit and vegetable prices from wholesale markets in 10 Iraqi governorates. . . . The Directorate of Water Resources in Al Muthanna' Governorate is working with USAID to rehabilitate a canal system that will irrigate 6,000 donums (1,200 hectares) [2,950 acres] of land farmed by 120 families.

And there's good environmental (http://www.egypttoday.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=4849) news from the south:

The vast marshlands of southern Iraq, almost drained out of existence by Saddam, are recovering far more quickly than anyone had even dared to hope. . . .

Speaking at the annual meeting of the American Association of the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Dr. Curtis Richardson, co-author of a report on the current status of the marshes, announced that with the destruction of barriers built by Saddam's henchmen to direct water away from the marshes, 20 percent of the area has now been reflooded with the promise that even more can be restored. And although some areas are heavily salinated, the water quality is better than expected. The result has been the return of "about 60 percent of the wildlife to the marshes" though the report does not make clear whether this is the number of species or absolute numbers. The newly elected Iraqi government has already set up a commission to oversee the recovery of the area and $30 million has been donated from abroad to help in the rehabilitation.

August 16th, 2005, 06:57 AM

• Humanitarian aid. USAID continues to help the disabled (http://www.reliefweb.int/library/documents/2005/usaid-irq-28jul.pdf) (link in PDF):

USAID's Community Action Program (CAP) worked with a community in northern Iraq to rebuild the sports facilities at a rehabilitation center for the disabled. The rehabilitation center was established in 1986 to assist men newly disabled from the Iran/Iraq war, but now offers services to all people with disabilities in At Tamim and As Sulaymaniyah governorates.

Operation Hope (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/ACIO-6F3QNA?OpenDocument&rc=3&cc=irq) is helping schoolchildren and handicapped:

Although our foreign team left the southern Shimaya district due to security concerns in April 2004, work has continued through locals who have taken responsibility for the projects. By March 2005 we had finished renovating three more schools. We continue to maintain a relationship with the local communities and partnered with UNICEF for the rehabilitation of these schools.

Operation Mercy's foreign team re-located to northern Iraq in the spring of 2005, where we have completed a needs assessment and are pursuing the areas of schools rehabilitation, working with people with disabilities and skills training for the high level of unemployed youth. We plan to work closely with other NGO's and the local communities.

In June '05 we distributed approximately 50 wheelchairs in local centres in Northern Iraq. Many of the children who received the chairs had been waiting for many years to get a wheelchair. Our children's physiotherapist will be continuing with a needs assessment in the area of Community Based Rehabilitation. We are also looking into the training of children and teachers regarding the integration of physically disabled children into public schools.

The areas of health education and sanitation are a priority for our staff and we will focus our schools rehabilitation efforts on these areas. Our plans will result in improved hygiene standards for approximately 8000 children in 2005 by renovating the sanitation facilities. Operation Mercy's aim in offering skills training is to equip the many young people with the basic skills needed to find good employment. We intend to offer training in basic computer skills and English language.

Young people participating in a summit have recently won praise (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2005/07/29/national/w123813D91.DTL) for their efforts to help Iraqi children:

First lady Laura Bush on Friday applauded teenagers for reaching out to the children of Iraq and to their own communities.

"You're turning youthful idealism into practical ideas," she told nearly a thousand teens and adult organizers from around the country at the fourth National Youth Summit.

Summit participants donated 70 large boxes of art supplies for Iraqi schools, a project Bush described as "a heartfelt act of solidarity with the young people of Iraq." The State Department sponsored six Iraqi summit participants, including Iraqi minister of youth and sport, Talib Zaini, and two Iraqi young people.

Operation Iraqi Children (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/EGUA-6F4LDZ?OpenDocument) continues:

U.S. soldiers in Iraq are doing more than conducting military operations: They're also handing out much needed school supplies to Iraq's children. And for the past year, some of those supplies have been provided by a small nongovernmental organization founded together by an American actor and a bestselling author.

"Operation Iraq Children" (OIC) was begun in March 2004 by actor Gary Sinise and author Laura Hillenbrand. Sinise played "Lieutenant Dan" in the film Forrest Gump and is known for his role as a detective in the hit television series CSI: NY. Hillenbrand wrote Seabiscuit: An American Legend, a book about a champion racehorse that was made into a feature film.

Sinise says he began the project after visiting an Iraqi school where he "saw a tremendous need" for basic school supplies and then "became aware that this was the norm for most of the schools in Iraq."

Sinise originally shipped 25 boxes of school supplies in January 2004. Since OIC was founded it has sent 40 additional shipments to Iraq--most recently on July 29. To date more than 200,000 school kits have been shipped, according to the OIC site.

A typical kit contains scissors, a ruler, regular and colored pencils, a sharpener, an eraser, notebook paper, a composition book, some folders and a zippered pencil bag. OIC estimates the kit's value at $15, which would make for an estimated donation value of approximately $3 million. Sinise's efforts drew the attention of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who visited the actor in Los Angeles August 4 on the set of CSI: NY. According to the American Forces Press Service, Rumsfeld told CSI: NY cast members about "all the wonderful things [Sinise] has done for the men and women in uniform across the country" and thanked the actor for his personal support for U.S. troops. Rumsfeld and Sinise both said they hoped OIC can be expanded into Afghanistan.

One youngster's project to help troops bring some cheer to Iraqi children (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jul2005/20050731_2285.html) has progressed beyond anyone's expectations:

What started out as a simple family project for an Arizona teenager has blossomed--make that snowballed--into a huge operation that's about to send the 50,000th Beanie Baby doll to troops in Iraq to distribute to local children.

Fourteen-year-old Alison Goulder is still at it, continuing a project to collect the stuffed critters for U.S. troops.

The soon-to-be-ninth-grader got the idea when she read in a magazine about Operation Grateful, an effort by law firm Greenberg Traurig to send care packages to troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and Germany. The magazine quoted Joe Reeder, former undersecretary of the Army and now a partner with the law firm, as saying Beanie Babies were the top item on the troops' wish list.

Goulder, who started collecting Beanie Babies when she was 7 years old, took the article as a call to action. She and her sister Jenna and brother Greg began scouring through their closets. They came up with 80 Beanie Babies.

But that was soon to become the just tip of the iceberg. Alison's family members, friends and schoolmates started collecting the Beanie Babies, too.

Alison's original goal was to collect 1,000 of the critters. But by last December, she'd already gathered 28,000, earning her a visit to the Pentagon to be thanked personally by then-Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff.

She also visited Greenberg Traurig's Washington law office, where she found one room so jam-packed with Beanie Babies she'd collected that "you could hardly walk into it," she told the American Forces Press Service.

Greenberg Traurig continues to ship all the Beanie Babies Alison collects to Iraq as part of their Operation Grateful campaign.

And to Alison's amazement, the Beanie Babies continue to arrive regularly at her Scottsdale home. They come from "all over," she said, fueled by articles in local newspapers and local TV stories about her effort. CNN ran a story about her efforts, and troops in Iraq learned about it on the Pentagon Channel. Now she's considering taking the effort national, possibly creating a Web site to further publicize her efforts. "We're definitely expanding the project," she said, noting that she has "thousands" on hand, ready for shipment. Once they're distributed, this shipment will bring to 50,000 the number of Beanie Babies being enjoyed by young Iraqi children.

August 16th, 2005, 06:58 AM

• Coalition troops. Read this amazing story (http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/world/iraq/20050731-1012-iraq-sheiksoldier.html) of how one American officer has won hearts and minds of the locals:

Sheik Horn floats around the room in white robe and headdress, exchanging pleasantries with dozens of village leaders. . . . Officially, he's Army Staff Sgt. Dale L. Horn, but to residents of the 37 villages and towns that he patrols he's known as the American sheik. . . .

Late last year a full-blown battle between insurgents and U.S. and Iraqi forces had erupted, and U.S. commanders assigned a unit to stop rocket and mortar attacks that regularly hit their base. Horn, who had been trained to operate radars for a field artillery unit, was now thrust into a job that largely hinged on coaxing locals into divulging information about insurgents.

Horn, 25, a native of Fort Walton Beach, Fla., acknowledges he had little interest in the region before coming here. But a local sheik friendly to U.S. forces, Dr. Mohammed Ismail Ahmed, explained the inner workings of rural Iraqi society on one of Horn's first Humvee patrols.

Horn says he was intrigued, and started making a point of stopping by all the villages, all but one dominated by Sunni Arabs, to talk to people about their life and security problems.

Moreover, he pressed for development projects in the area: he now boasts that he helped funnel $136,000 worth of aid into the area. Part of that paid for delivery of clean water to 30 villages during the broiling summer months.

"They saw that we were interested in them, instead of just taking care of the bases," Horn said.

Mohammed, Horn's mentor and known for his dry sense of humor, eventually suggested during a meeting of village leaders that Horn be named a sheik. The sheiks approved by voice vote, Horn said.

Some sheiks later gave him five sheep and a postage stamp of land, fulfilling some of the requirements for sheikdom. Others encouraged him to start looking for a second wife, which Horn's spouse back in Florida immediately vetoed.

But what may have originally started as a joke among crusty village elders has sprouted into something serious enough for 100 to 200 village leaders to meet with Horn each month to discuss security issues.

And Horn doesn't take his responsibilities lightly. He lately has been prodding the Iraqi Education Ministry to pay local teachers, and he closely follows a water pipeline project that he hopes will ensure the steady flow of clean water to his villages.

"Ninety percent of the people in my area are shepherds or simple townspeople," said Horn. "They simply want to find a decent job to make enough money to provide food and a stable place for their people to live." To Horn's commanders, his success justifies his unorthodox approach: no rockets have hit their base in the last half year.

A similar approach, but without all the theatrics, is working (http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-5181188,00.html) in Qayyarah:

Last fall, insurgents overran police stations and Iraqi army bases in this northern rural region, scaring off nearly all 2,000 Iraqi troops and keeping people locked inside their homes at night.

Last month only two attacks took place in this Rhode Island-sized area mostly populated by Sunni Arabs and Kurds, according to U.S. commanders in the area.

The difference, they say, stems from a new approach of relying on sheiks and mukhtars--the tribal and local leaders who wield enormous influence among some 75,000 people in hundreds of villages and small towns south of the city of Mosul.

"Sheiks are the real power here," said Lt. Col. Bradley Becker, commander of the 2nd Battalion, 8th Field Artillery Regiment. "Mayors just aren't as good as sheiks on security matters."

Becker says he now meets with 50 to 100 sheiks a week, and holds monthly confabs with them in a base auditorium that usually shows movies for relaxing soldiers. Sheiks and mukhtars, most in white robes, some walking gingerly with canes, flow into the room and listen to U.S. and Iraqi officials talking about security as well as local issues such as electricity supply.

About six people showed up for the first meeting early this year--but the latest, on Tuesday, drew about 300. Much of it took a townhall tone, hearing complaints about gasoline shortages and inquiries about arrested fellow tribesmen.

"After November, what happened was bad, but they came to us," said Sheik Nief Saleh said of the Americans. "I try to help as I can." In return for the sheiks' help, Becker says he has spent close to $1 million on reconstruction jobs employing hundreds of tribesmen.

More money will soon be spent on various smaller-scale projects (http://www.centcom.mil/CENTCOMNews/Stories/07_05/36.htm) in Baghdad and elsewhere:

A potential $161 million will soon be added to the Reconstruction Program coffers here.

The Commander's Emergency Relief Program, or CERP, is an allocation of money which allows commanders on the ground and Iraqi community leaders to work together toward immediate quality of life enhancements for Iraqis.

The Gulf Region Division and its three districts in Mosul, Baghdad, and Tallil work with their Iraqi counterparts to prioritize needs.

Maneuver commanders in communities look for small infrastructure projects aimed at completing the "last mile" for delivery of electricity, water or other basic needs to homes and businesses.

CERP funds have also been made available to the Iraqi Provincial Reconstruction and Development committees. In one governate in the Gulf Region's North District, three water treatment plants in one area were recommended for rehabilitation at a cost of approximately $175,000.

Another 78 CERP projects in the north district, funded for $4.9M, will add three classrooms each to 27 schools and six classrooms apiece to 51 schools. All of those projects are expected to be completed in September. In the Gulf Region Central District, an $89,000 outpatient clinic is being built with funding from this program. Also in the central district, seven CERP projects for a cost of $1.4 million are scheduled to replace low- and medium-voltage lines throughout Sadr City.

The Army is also now funding (http://www4.army.mil/ocpa/read.php?story_id_key=7660) reconstruction projects by Iraqi authorities--and saving on costs in the process:

To provide fiscal reconstruction support in Iraq, the Army presented its first reimbursement payment July 25.

Maj. Gen. Daniel Long, director of the Iraq project and contracting office, presented Jasim M. Jaa'far, Iraqi minister of construction and housing, with a check for $1,548,795 under an Army program to provide fiscal support for the reconstruction of select Iraq infrastructure

The agreement allows the Iraqi minister of construction and housing to hire contractors and manage the projects themselves. No U.S. contractors are on site. This agreement realized a 34 percent savings over traditional U.S. contracts. The money will be used to build key bridges and roadways. Programs such as this are central to the reconstruction effort, and provide the first step in building a foundation for the transfer of control of completed facilities to Iraqi management.

Some of the projects that came on line in July (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/Multi-national+forces+report+on+Iraq+reconstruction+succ esses__1111399.html):

Construction was completed this month on a $437,000 electrical distribution project in the Al Anbar Province; a $264,000 Maternity and Pediatric Hospital in the Wassit Province; a $240,000 potable water project in the Diyala Province; a $217,500 police station in the Baghdad Province; a $50,000 school repair project in the Salah al Din Province; and a $29,000 courthouse project in the Erbil Province.

The troops are also improving electrical infrastructure (http://www.blackanthem.com/TheAllies/2005080803.html) around Najaf:

With a major neighborhood electrical refurbishment project getting underway in the city of Najaf, the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Gulf Region South District has earmarked most of the money for distribution projects, which means a voltage level from 33 kilovolts down to the levels used by houses and small shops.

"The plants aren't operating at full capacity for one reason or another. The plants are old and haven't been well maintained over the years for example. This power shortage causes the three hours on/ three hours off of electricity that Iraq experiences now because there is only half the power needed."

People appreciate distribution projects because that's when "you bring wires into the home," said Greg Fillers, Gulf Region South Electrical Sector project manager. "It's kind of like an overall electric blanket. That blanket covers power generation, transmission lines, distribution networks and controls." He added that all four components contribute equally to the system. Fillers explained that similar distribution projects are being planned and accomplished in most of Iraq's larger cities, for example Basrah. There, the power generation plant at Khor Az Zubahr has a dual switchyard. While the generator there doesn't create high voltages, the voltage is converted up for transmission to 400,000 volts or 400 KiloVolts (KV), which is one standard in Iraq. The other transmission standard is 132 KV, and the level of voltage is decreased in steps as it gets closer to individual homes. The higher the voltage, the better it transmits over distances.

And also water infrastructure (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/Najaf+projects+focus+on+supplying+more+potable+wat er__1111417.html?PHPSESSID=9fdbdad661c88ba3c1ed612 64a1164b5):

Estimates put the shortage of potable water in the area surrounding Najaf and Kufa at about 40 percent, with existing plants being old or deteriorated because of neglect or lack of maintenance. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Gulf Region South District (GRS) has quality assurance responsibilities on 14 water treatment units and three water pipeline projects that will increase that drinkable water flow within the Najaf area.

The water projects, worth approximately $12 million, involve the installation of 14 compact water treatment units and piping, according to Darrell Flinn. These compact units require highly skilled labor to maintain them, and training the staff is part of the overall package. "These require a technical labor force that has been taught to use this equipment," Flinn said. Seven of the 14 small units are finished and the rest are in various stages of completion. The three pipeline projects are 90 percent completed, or better. "It is really critical to bring water to these neighborhoods."

The troops are working on the construction of physical law infrastructure (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/Multi-national+forces+report+on+Iraq+reconstruction+succ esses__1111399.html):

On July 4, construction was finished on a $29,000 courthouse project in the Soran District of Erbil Province. It was the only Courthouse project programmed for construction in the district, but nationwide, there are 22 prison and court projects planned, with 13 ongoing and nine complete.

There are also some very local-oriented projects, like this initiative to improve access to water (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/Multi-national+forces+report+on+Iraq+reconstruction+succ esses__1111399.html) for several villages: The $240,000 Zaherat Village Water Network project in the Diyala Governorate was also completed--49 days ahead of schedule. This project replaced and refurbished an existing potable water system and pipelines in Zaherat, Abi Saida and Muqdadiya village water networks, providing 300,000 gallons of potable water per day.

The troops are also making an effort to give whatever assistance they can to Iraq's overstretched health system. These are some of the health achievements (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/Multi-national+forces+report+on+Iraq+reconstruction+succ esses__1111399.html) of the coalition troops in July:

Nineteen Iraqi military physicians, nurses, medics and medical equipment technicians from the Iraqi Armed Forces went to Germany for five weeks of field hospital, mass casualty and biomedical equipment maintenance training that taught them how to use a variety of donated medical equipment.

During the second week in July, Coalition Forces worked with Iraqi health officials in Owja, of the Salah Ad Din province, to open a hospital for the general public. Troops helped hire doctors and nurses, obtain beds, and fix the air conditioning system. Now the hospital provides basic healthcare, including gynecology, x-rays and general practice. The hospital served Saddam Hussein's family and friends but has been closed for several years. More than 20 healthcare facilities have been renovated, with many others in the process of being renovated. The $653,000 Al Husseiniya Primary Healthcare Center under construction in the Al Resafa District of Baghdad Province will include teaching and delivery facilities, as well as a labor center. The facilities are scheduled to be completed by the end of the year and will relieve the overburdened outpatient care currently being provided by existing hospitals. The final objective of implementing this health care system is to reduce overall infant mortality rate by at least 20 percent.

The troops from B Company, Fourth Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment have been teaching basic first aid (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/U.S.+Soldiers+give+Iraqi+teachers+first+aid+traini ng__1111394.html?PHPSESSID=91d07269c91287cc7daf46f 534204bb6) skills to teachers from six schools in the Karradah District at the request of the neighborhood council.

Army engineers are continuing to renovate schools (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/Another+43+Iraqi+schools+funded+and+approved+for+r ehabilitation__1111412.html?PHPSESSID=9fdbdad661c8 8ba3c1ed61264a1164b5) around Iraq:

Approximately 18,000 Iraqi children will study in refurbished schools when their new school year starts in slightly more than six weeks, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Iraqi and U.S. government agencies announced August 6 that renovations of 43 schools in the northern and southern governorates are funded for repairs, with contracts awarded for the work.

Since June of last year, 656 of 800 schools in reconstruction have completed.

As part of the Iraq Relief Reconstruction Fund, over $1.3 million was set aside to continue a nationwide school repair program. Repairs include rehabilitating sanitary facilities, and electrical and mechanical systems, as well as structural repairs to schools in Karbala , Dahuk, Najaf, Basrah and Qadisiyah.

More here (http://www4.army.mil/ocpa/read.php?story_id_key=7717). Speaking of education, a Marine pursuing a career in teaching is finding that in Iraq he can interact with children (http://www.blackanthem.com/News/2005080314.html):

Cpl. Jeffrey H. Meighen, civil affairs non-commissioned officer, 5th Civil Affairs Group, 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, goes out into the local communities and makes a difference in Iraqi children's lives during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"I love being around kids, these kids are good kids," said Meighen. "They smile and seem comfortable with us."

Meighen sometimes participates in sporting events with the local children. He also hands out toys and hygiene products while working to help rebuild their towns.

The Southern Senior High School graduate conducts civil affairs missions to help people in the surrounding cities. As a part of CAG he helps restore critical infrastructure such as water, health services, schools and other projects that help improve the Iraqi living conditions.

"If those vital things are not up and running we push them to get them up and running through government funding," Meighen said.

The native of Harwood, Md., and his team go out two to three times a week to interact with the Iraqi-nationals. They recently set up a soccer game for the kids of a local village where Marines put nets on empty goals and handed out jerseys, shorts, socks and even shoes. "Basically I think the foundation for any society is the kids. If we show them now that we are not all bad, that we are not here to take away their freedom, but to liberate them, the kids will grow up knowing that and 20 years from now they will be the ones running the country," he said.

Humanitarian actions (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/Multi-national+forces+report+on+Iraq+reconstruction+succ esses__1111399.html) continue: More than 200 children and community members gathered at the Bayaa Youth Center in the Al Rashid district of Baghdad to participate in a uniform and wheelchair distribution, followed by a soccer game July 13. The community program provided complete soccer uniforms, soccer balls, and a variety of other items for the 240 children involved in the Bayaa Youth Soccer League. There was enough equipment to outfit 15 teams. In addition to the soccer match, 300 people were treated for minor illnesses by Iraqi doctors at a community health screening, and program coordinators distributed five wheelchairs to disabled people in the area.

Here's a contribution from Slovakia (http://www.adnki.com/index_2Level.php?cat=Security&loid=8.0.193098046&par=0): A Slovak unit of military engineers deployed in Iraq has cleared an area of over 574,000 square meters [142 acres] of land mines since early March using mine-clearing devices, the Slovak defense ministry announced on Tuesday. In addition the unit has also cleared manually another 14,000 square meters [3.5 acres] of the war-ravaged country's territory, the ministry said on its web site. In five months they also destroyed 331,000 kilograms of confiscated ammunition. The 104-strong Slovak military contingent in Iraq is involved in ground and fortification works.

And from Salvadorans (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/Multi-national+forces+report+on+Iraq+reconstruction+succ esses__1111399.html): The El Salvadorian battalion completed construction on a bridge in the city of Al Kifl. Thirty Iraqi Citizens were employed in the project, and officials estimate that 3,000 people will regularly use the bridge, which is located near the Al Jehad School. Another school, the $95,000 Al Masharq School project in the Thi Qar Province, opened July 11.

August 16th, 2005, 07:00 AM

• Security. A recent Defense Department report (http://www.dcmilitary.com/army/pentagram/10_30/national_news/36184-1.html) on the situation in Iraq:

Terrorists in Iraq have been unable to derail the political process, a new Defense Department report on Iraqi stability and security states. Still, the report contends, insurgents "remain capable, adaptable, and intent on carrying out attacks."

The report to Congress on measuring stability and security in Iraq says the inability of insurgents to derail political progress is a "noteworthy strategic indicator of progress toward a stable security environment." . . .

Attacks on military forces and on civilians are focused in four provinces, with the security situation being relatively stable in the rest of the country. In the four provinces, attacks on civilians are up, while attacks on coalition forces are down, [Lt. Gen. Walter Sharp, director of strategic plans and policy for the Joint Chiefs of Staff] said, noting insurgents "are now realizing they've got to attack softer targets."

The general said attacks on Iraqi forces are up slightly, but noted that should be expected because their numbers and involvement have steadily increased. Attacks on infrastructure, however, are down. From June to November 2004, Iraq averaged 41 insurgent attacks on infrastructure targets per month. Since February, that number has been an average of seven per month. "The Iraqis are working very hard to help protect their infrastructure out there," Sharp said.

A recently discovered terrorist correspondence (http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticle.asp?xfile=data/focusoniraq/2005/August/focusoniraq_August31.xml&section=focusoniraq) paints a slightly different picture of the terror campaign than the one we are used to:

A letter allegedly written by a member of Al Qaeda in Iraq to its country head Abu Mosab Al Zarqawi suggests that there was dissent in the ranks of fighters operating out of Mosul, according to excerpts provided in a statement by the US military on Saturday.

In the letter that the US says it discovered July 27 during a raid on a home in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, the author "Abu Zayd" complained of poor local leadership in the organization and the mistreatment of foreign fighters.

"This is a clarification of what has become of the situation in Mosul, and it is no secret to you the noticeable decrease in the attacks carried out by the mujahideen from not long ago when Mosul was in the hands of the mujahideen," wrote Abu Zayd.

The most recent wave of bloody attacks in the city occurred in late June.

Among the charges Abu Zayd levels at the leadership, according to the summary provided by the statement, are the incompetence of the Mosul leadership, disobedience of troops and the squandering of funds.

His woes include the "deplorable" conditions suffered by non-Iraqi fighters including bad pay, housing problems and marginalisation within the organisation. The statement did not give Abu Zayd's nationality. It also said attacks "lack diversity" and that there was a focus on "quantity not quality."

One large Sunni neighborhood (http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20050807/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq_sunni_oasis) in Baghdad is enjoying peace and quiet:

In the soft glow of twilight, vendors fire up their kebab grills, crowds gather along shopping streets festooned with decorative red-and-white lights and cafes bustle with the sounds of laughter and conversation.

It wasn't always this way in Azamiyah, a middle-class Sunni Arab quarter in Baghdad's north.

Saddam Hussein hid out among his fellow Sunni Arabs of Azamiyah as American troops closed in on Baghdad in April 2003. Marines nearly caught him in a fierce battle the day after crowds hauled down his statue in another part of town.

Life in Azamiyah, home to about a half-million people in a 15-square-mile area, began changing in February, when U.S. and Iraqi authorities sealed off the Tigris River bridge linking the Sunni district with the heavily Shiite neighborhood of Kazimiyah.

The move was to prevent Sunni insurgents from using the bridge to slip into the Shiite area and launch attacks during Ashoura, the major Shiite religious festival. The bridge has been closed since. The closure not only prevented insurgents from using Azamiyah as a springboard for attacks elsewhere in the city, but it kept troublemakers out of the Sunni district, too. Although there are other routes into Azamiyah, the locals keep an eye out for strangers, stopping outsiders and asking what they are doing there.

Iraqi forces have managed to restore peace to much of the restive Dyiala province (http://www.azzaman.com/english/index.asp?fname=news2005-08-0610475.htm):

Iraqi forces have managed to impose relative quiet on many cities in the restive province of Diyala, Governor Raad Rasheed said.

The curfew on the provincial capital of Baaquba, site of frequent roadside and car bomb attacks, will now start from 11 p.m. instead of 9 p.m., he said.

"We strive to scrap all the measures and decisions that restrict the freedom of residents," he said in an interview.

The governor did not say what other measures he intends to take to bring life to normal in his violence-stricken province.

But he said reducing the curfew in the provincial center and removing it altogether in a few other areas "is an indication of an improvement in the security situation." For example in the town of Bahraz, which for long was almost completely under revel control, the curfew has been reduced from 12 midnight to 4 a.m.

The U.S. military also reports an improving security situation in Mosul (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,165031,00.html):

There's one clear sign that life in the Sunni Arab-dominated western half of this city is changing for the better--children are again playing soccer at night. The reason: fewer terrorist attacks.

The U.S. military says there were fewer bombings and mortar attacks in July than any month since October.

A 50-percent drop in attacks in western Mosul over the past eight months is a marked improvement from the days when U.S. troops routinely had to call in airstrikes and repel synchronized attacks.

But that doesn't mean violence has been eradicated. Though attacks in July were noticeably down, western Mosul still endured over 50 shootings and roadside bombings, the U.S military said. Soldiers say they're close to solidifying gains and making further progress--if the flow of foreign fighters can be blocked so that terrorist ranks are not quickly replaced. U.S. commanders say they've nearly uprooted the top terrorist network that steered the city toward chaos last November.

And to underscore differences in security conditions throughout Iraq, and how little we hear about most of the country which is relatively violence-free, this report from Suleymaniyah (http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/MAC932575.htm) in the Kurdish north:

Asked when he last had to treat victims of a car bomb, Iraqi doctor Arif Anwar, an emergency room surgeon at Sulaimaniya's main hospital, dismisses the question with a smile and then starts to laugh.

"Car bomb? Are you joking?" he chuckles, as his white-coated colleagues in the doctors' lounge join the chorus of amusement.

"We don't have anything like that. The biggest problem we have here is car accidents--too many car accidents," he says, shaking his head in dismay at the poor quality of local driving. . . .

The emergency room at Anwar's hospital, a newly built wing that wouldn't look out of place in Europe, sometimes doesn't handle a single emergency all day. On other days maybe 10 to 15 patients are brought in, the doctors say. . . .

Every evening the streets of Sulaimaniya, a thriving city of around 700,000 people, are thronged. Young men and women walk or sit together in the parks, while older men gather in cafes to drink tea and play backgammon. Restaurants are packed, music plays and the streets are alive--in stark contrast to Baghdad and other troubled cities.

Meanwhile, day by day (http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-5172612,00.html), Iraqi forces are building up their numbers and increasing their effectiveness:

The explosion blows open the entrance to a darkened warehouse. A half dozen commandos rush in, swiftly moving from room to room as they search for the hostage-takers. The sharp rattle of gunfire follows.

Then a smiling Iraqi commander emerges, holding up a life-size cardboard cutout of a mock terrorist holding a woman hostage, his head riddled with multiple bullet holes. Watching the 'live-fire' exercise by an Iraqi military commando squad, Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, the American commander charged with training Iraq's security forces, nodded in approval: "They're good. These are the guys who are going to get us home.''

Training Iraqi troops and police is a slow process--it takes a lot of time to prepare combat-ready units which are able to act independently in operations--but gradually such forces are starting to come on line. Police force (http://i-newswire.com/pr40381.html), too, is growing:

The Iraqi Police Service graduated 142 police officers from advanced and specialty courses at the Adnan Training Facility [on Aug. 4]. . . .

Completing the 10-week training course were 1,816 new police recruits. One hundred thirty-seven graduated from the Sulaymaniyah Regional Academy, 643 from the Hillah Regional Academy, and 952, including 16 women, from the Baghdad Police College. Completing the three-week Transitional Integration Program in Baghdad were 84 police officers. . . .

The TIP course is a three-week program developed for serving police officers with little or no prior basic training. TIP will provide these officers with a condensed version of the 10-week course. More than 40,000 police recruits have previously completed the longer course developed for new recruits. An additional 37,000 police officers have completed the TIP course to date. The new officers will report for duty in the coming weeks and take up their assignments at their respective police stations throughout Iraq.

Overall in July, "more than 6,000 (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/Multi-national+forces+report+on+Iraq+reconstruction+succ esses__1111399.html) Iraqi Security Forces were trained . . ., including 1,514 who graduated from the Jordan International Police Training Center on July 30."

There is also increasing cooperation between different branches of Iraqi security forces: Army and Iraqi police officers conducted the first joint leadership seminar (http://www4.army.mil/ocpa/read.php?story_id_key=7681) at Baghdad Police Headquarters July 23. Military Police from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 42nd Military Police Brigade, and two dozen members of the Iraqi police force attended the seminar, titled "Police Leadership in an Insurgency Environment."

In another regional first:

Coalition maritime forces (http://www.news.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=19444) and maritime forces from Iraq and Kuwait launched an historic operation July 20 focused on maritime security operations (MSO) in the North Persian Gulf, marking the first time the countries' sea services have worked together. . . . The engagement resulting from Operation River Dragon provided a mechanism to create a broad-based maritime coalition actively engaged in countering threats both at sea and ashore. Almost all coalition partners contribute maritime forces, such as ships, boarding teams, maritime patrol aircraft, intelligence analysts and staff augmentees to support ongoing operations.

And in another important first:

On July 16, a group of determined and proud Iraqis took a step in building democracy, and gave girls across their country positive role models to look up to. They became the first all-female class (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/Multi-national+forces+report+on+Iraq+reconstruction+succ esses__1111399.html) to graduate from Iraqi Army basic training. The training, taught entirely by Iraqi instructors, consisted of weapons qualifications and physical fitness development.

More Iraqi army units are becoming operational (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jul2005/20050730_2282.html):

The 1st Iraqi Army Mechanized Brigade became fully operational after the 2nd Battalion came on line July 25, according to senior officials with the Coalition Military Assistance Training Team, Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq.

Soldiers with 2nd Battalion, 1st Brigade, 9th Iraqi Army Mechanized Division became operational and under the tactical control of the Multinational Corps-Iraq, officials reported. The 1st Brigade is headquartered in Taji and consists of approximately 2,000 soldiers. Officials said the unit will be available to respond to national emergencies throughout Iraq and will support the Ministry of Interior forces required.

The full-scale recruitment of battle-hardened Kurds (http://www.adnki.com/index_2Level.php?cat=Security&loid=8.0.193259602&par=0) into the security forces has now officially begun:

Enrolment has begun in Iraqi Kudistan for the first Kurdish Peshmerga fighters to join Iraq's national army. The recruitment represents the completion of the first phase to create a special brigade within the fourth division of the Iraqi army. Peshmerga is the term used by Kurds to refer to freedom fighters, and literally means "those who face death". The agreements reached in the last few months will see some 32,000 former guerrillas join the ranks of Iraq's new armed forces, said Jaafar Mustafa, a member of the Peshmerga leadership, but "so far only one brigade has been set up," whose members come from the Sulaymaniya area.

Iraqis assume control of Diwaniyah (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/Multi-national+forces+report+on+Iraq+reconstruction+succ esses__1111399.html):

The 2nd Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 8th Iraqi Army Division from al-Hillah were certified as being fully capable of planning and executing security operations. The unit will take control of Camp Echo and surrounding areas in ad Diwaniyah. The Soldiers will soon be patrolling the streets and conducting anti-terrorist operations in the city.

Here's another (http://www4.army.mil/ocpa/read.php?story_id_key=7703) security hand-over:

A July 31 ceremony marked the transfer of authority for one fifth of the Diyala province to the Iraqi army.

Improved security in the Diyala Province has allowed Coalition Forces to successfully transition operational control of Forward Operating Base Scunion to Iraqi control. . . . Iraqi soldiers of the 2nd Brigade, 5th Iraqi Army Division, hoisted the Iraqi flag over the newly named Forward Operating Base Khamees, named in honor of an Iraqi army major killed in action June 26th.

After an 18-month absence, Iraqi police are back (http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/2005/07/some-security-related-news.html) patrolling the streets of Fallujah. And now, a joining committee is also preparing for the Iraqi assumption of security responsibilities (http://www.menewsline.com/stories/2005/august/08_04_3.html) in five southern cities: Diwaniya, Karbala, Najaf, Nasseriya and Samawa. The talks about withdrawing from Najaf (http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2005-08/10/content_3332495.htm) are already progressing well.

The construction (http://www.estripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=30837) of security infrastructure continues throughout the country:

Come December, Iraqi army officer candidates who show up at the Zakho Military Academy may think they've been mistakenly sent to a resort.

The 200 cadets training at the academy now are in cramped quarters, eating in a chow hall built for 80 people and using a dilapidated old gymnasium.

While the training won't be any less strenuous, the group that starts in December or January will have new and renovated barracks, two renovated dining facilities, a renovated swimming pool, a new gymnasium, a running track and a training area that includes an obstacle course, a rappelling tower, and ranges for rifle, grenade and urban warfare training.

The military academy is one of about 2,800 projects that fall under the Iraq Reconstruction Program. The projects include such facilities as schools, water treatment facilities, power distribution upgrades, border forts and health clinics--projects that will help rebuild the country's infrastructure. The $8.2 million project at Zakho also includes potable and waste water treatment facilities to accommodate 5,000 people, said Joshua Adekanbi, project engineer for the academy.

Read also this story of Asaad Hassan Al-Jaaire and his brother, Hayder, who are working as quality assurance representatives (http://www4.army.mil/ocpa/read.php?story_id_key=7693) on the army engineers' Gulf Region Central security infrastructure projects:

One of projects Asaad oversees is the $10 million, 6,400 square-meter [69,000-square-foot] Public Order Brigade Headquarters at Forward Operating Base Justice, which is 70 percent complete. He's also managing the nearly finished $2.5 million, 11,500 square-meter [124,000-square-foot] renovation of the Civil Defense headquarters building in Baghdad. Hayder's project is the new $8.5 million, 4,000 square-meter [43,000-square-foot] courthouse being built in Baghdad that is 15 percent complete.

Some armor (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/Defense+Solutions%2C+LLC+delivers+first+rebuilt+T-72+tanks+to+Iraqi+Army__1111387.html?PHPSESSID=85b 120845b58b21309963395a950dc9c) is coming for the Iraqi army:

Defense Solutions announced . . . that it will deliver the first five rebuilt T-72 Main Battle Tanks to the Iraqi Army. Iraqi Staff Major General Mahmood Ayoub Bashar will accept these tanks on behalf of the Iraqi Ministry of Defense during his attendance at program review meetings being held at the HM Currus Combat Vehicle Technique Company (Currus), Gödöllõ, Hungary. Currus is participating in the refurbishment project under a subcontract to Defense Solutions. These tanks are part of a total of 77 T-72s that are being rebuilt under a contract between Defense Solutions and the Iraqi Ministry of Defense. The T-72 tanks were originally donated to Iraq by the Government of Hungary. Defense Solutions is performing this work under a U.S. State Department license.

In stories of security cooperation from the locals:

"Acting on a tip from a civilian informant July 28, Iraqi and coalition forces conducted a cordon-and-search operation in Baghdad. Soldiers with 5th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, and 2nd Battalion, 156th U.S. Infantry Regiment, were searching for two specific terrorism suspects. Both were detained (http://www.lincolntribune.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=1837), along with eight additional suspects."
"Coalition forces conducted a raid in western Ramadi early Aug. 3 resulting in the capture of 10 suspected terrorists (http://i-newswire.com/pr40154.html). Upon arrival at the intended target, a local Iraqi citizen confirmed the building was being used as a terrorist safehouse. When forces approached the building several suspected terrorists fled throughout the surrounding area. Six suspected terrorists were immediately detained and four were captured after they hid inside a nearby Mosque. Iraqi citizens assisted the Coalition forces by pointing out the hiding place of the four suspects. Prior to the raid, a male who lived in the safehouse came outside and told Coalition forces that terrorists were storing explosives inside where his two small children remained. Coalition forces immediately rescued the children and escorted them away from the building. The children were safely reunited to their family."
On Aug. 3, when American soldiers were investigating a terror tip (http://www.defendamerica.mil/articles/aug2005/a080905wm3.html) from a local in East Baghdad, a suicide bomber detonated prematurely, causing only minor damage and injuries. Two accomplices were arrested.
The capture (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,165213,00.html) of insurgents thought to be responsible for the recent deaths of 20 Marines near Haditha. "Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, pointed to the arrests as evidence that Iraqi civilians support the U.S.-led coalition trying to pacify the country. 'The public came forward and said these are the folks,' Myers said."

Successful antiterror operations usually get lost under the avalanche of bad news about casualties and terror attacks. Just to see what you're usually missing from your newspapers and nightly news, here's one weekend's worth of work (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Aug2005/20050807_2366.html) in northern Iraq:

Iraqi and multinational security forces from Task Force Freedom detained 32 suspected terrorists, killed one terrorist, injured another three, and seized a weapons cache over the weekend . . .:

A joint force of Iraqi Police and U.S. soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, killed one terrorist during a raid in western Mosul today. The raid also resulted in the capture of seven terrorist suspects, who are now in custody, officials said. Coalition forces reportedly sustained no injuries.
Iraqi Police detained seven terrorist suspects during separate operations in Mosul on today [Aug. 7] and Aug. 6.
Iraqi army soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, seized eight terrorist suspects following an attack on their checkpoint in northern Mosul Aug. 6.
Iraqi army soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, apprehended two terrorist suspects during a cordon-and-search operation in Rawah on Aug. 6.
Iraqi Intervention Force troops from the 3rd Battalion, 1st Brigade, 1st Division, detained two terrorist suspects during a raid in Rawah on Aug. 6. The terrorist suspects are in custody, and Iraqi security forces sustained no injuries, officials said.
Three terrorist suspects were injured in an engagement with U.S. soldiers with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Tal Afar on Aug. 6. The terrorist suspects had attacked Iraqi army soldiers via a drive-by shooting. The terrorist suspects are being treated for their injuries and then will be detained, officials said.
U.S. soldiers with the 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, captured another two terrorist suspects who had attacked civilians, in Tal Afar on Aug. 6, officials said.
Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment apprehended one terrorist suspect during a raid in eastern Mosul on Aug. 6.
Soldiers from the 2nd Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, captured three terrorist suspects and a weapons cache over the weekend. The seizures occurred during two separate operations in Rawah. The cache included a number of mortar rounds and a mortar-firing system. The weapons were confiscated for future destruction. . . . Iraqi and multinational security forces with the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team), detained 34 suspected terrorists and seized a weapons cache during operations in northern Iraq on Aug. 5. . . .

Twenty-five of the terrorist suspects were apprehended during cordon-and-search operations south of Oayyarah. Iraqi army soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, and U.S. troops from the 2nd Battalion, 8th Field Artillery Regiment, spearheaded these operations.

Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, apprehended another five suspected terrorists on Friday. The 24th seized the terrorist suspects during three separate operations in western Mosul, officials said.

The remaining four terrorist suspects were detained by soldiers from the 2nd Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, at a checkpoint in Rawah.

Also on Aug. 5, U.S. soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, seized a weapons cache during a search operation in eastern Mosul, officials said. The cache reportedly included several artillery rounds, which were confiscated for future destruction.

You think that's exceptional? Here's more from Aug. 5 and 6 (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Aug2005/20050806_2361.html):

Iraqi soldiers and U.S. Marines from Regimental Combat Team 2 destroyed three car bombs while conducting cordon-and-search operations in the western Iraqi city of Haqliniyah today. . . .

The soldiers and Marines also discovered two weapons caches in caves outside of Haqliniyah today. . . . The first cave reportedly was found at 9:00 a.m. It contained a rocket-propelled-grenade launcher, medium machine gun, several assault rifles, and bomb-making material, the Marines said. The second cave contained 155 mm artillery rounds and a propane tank--items, they noted, that are commonly used for bomb construction.

The Marines detained 24 suspected terrorists for questioning.

Also during Operation Quick Strike today, Iraqi soldiers and U.S. Marines discovered two roadside bombs buried alongside the main road south of Haditha. . . .

A joint U.S-Iraqi raid in Sharmiyah Aug. 5 resulted in the capture of 39 suspected terrorists, including some key local terrorist leaders. Eight of the 39 terrorist suspects were detained at the Mudjaherin al Ansar mosque by a specially trained Iraqi Police unit. The mosque was not damaged in the operation, officials said.

The remaining 31 terrorist suspects were detained during a cordon-and-knock operation by U.S. soldiers from the 150th Engineer Battalion, 155th Brigade Combat Team (BCT), 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward). The 155th BCT is a U.S. Army unit assigned to the 2nd MEF (Forward) for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The 155th BCT also recently seized and destroyed munitions from two weapons caches identified by Iraqi police, officials said. The Soldiers also detained three suspected terrorists. Among the seized and destroyed munitions: 1,427 artillery rounds, 50 37 mm anti-aircraft rounds, two 107 mm rockets, and two mortar rounds.

Similarly, in Bauqbah Aug. 5, Iraqi security forces neutralized five improvised explosive devices. One of the IEDs was identified by Iraqi army soldiers, who immediately secured the area. An Iraqi explosive ordnance disposal team then destroyed the IED. . . .

Meanwhile, in Baghdad Aug. 5, Iraqi security forces reportedly detained 45 suspected terrorists during Operation Vanguard Thunder. Participating Iraqi army soldiers and police officers were assisted by elements of the 184th U.S. Infantry Regiment. Operation Vanguard Thunder is targeting 150-200 terrorist suspects. No injuries or damages were reported during these operations, officials said. Iraqi army and Task Force Baghdad soldiers worked together to capture five terror suspects in three separate combat operations carried out in southern, western and northern Baghdad Aug. 4.

And here are highlights from Aug. 6 and 7 (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Aug2005/20050808_2370.html):

In Mosul, coalition forces detained two individuals for handing out terrorist propaganda. The two individuals revealed the location of their source and, during a resulting raid, Iraqi police killed one terrorist later confirmed to be a Syrian national. In a combined raid, coalition and Iraqi security forces captured three men connected to terror leader Abbass Fadhel Zangana.
Near Hit, Iraqi Intervention Forces and U.S. Marines captured three terrorists in a truck towing another vehicle modified as a car bomb.
In Haqlaniyah, coalition forces destroyed a booby-trapped house that contained improvised explosive devices.
In Baghdad, coalition forces captured a car bomb and four terrorists who were involved in a car-bomb cell. Iraqi forces captured ten members of a terrorist cell in Sadr City. In other developments, Iraqi army soldiers and coalition forces captured suspected insurgents in a targeted search Aug. 7 in Rawah, Iraq, according to a Multinational Force Iraq report.

Elements of U.S. Army Task Force 2-14 and soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 1st Brigade, 1st Iraqi Intervention Force, detained four suspected insurgents during the operation. The suspects included one Syrian man, one Sudanese man, a former Rawah police officer, and a civilian. The Sudanese man was in possession of an expired passport.

In Fallujah, Iraqi army soldiers found and eliminated improvised explosive devices while conducting search operations Aug. 6, according to a MNFI report.

Soldiers with the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 1st Iraqi Intervention Force, discovered an IED while on a dismounted patrol. The IED consisted of one 130 mm artillery round enclosed in a white burlap bag with a car-alarm receiver, a washing machine timer, and a battery. The area was secured and the IED was disarmed and removed for later disposal.

Elsewhere, Iraqi army soldiers found IEDs in Rawah and Mugdadiyah. In Rawah, soldiers raided a building and found one 120 mm artillery round and two pounds of propellant. Two suspected insurgents were detained.

In Mugdadiyah, a patrol located one 155 mm artillery round and an unknown initiation device. An Iraqi explosive ordnance disposal team removed the IED.

In other recent security successes:

Two suspects captured during a raid in Mosul on July 26, and two roadside bombs caches located and disarmed (http://i-newswire.com/pr38965.html) in the Baghdad area.
"Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 108th Armor Regiment, found a large weapons cache (http://www.lincolntribune.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=1837) during a routine combat patrol July 27. The cache contained more than 30 120 mm mortar rounds, seven fuses wrapped in plastic, two boxes of heavy machine gun ammunition, several grenades and a 55-gallon drum containing blasting caps, detonation cord and additional mortar rounds."
"Iraqi police located a large cache of munitions (http://www.lincolntribune.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=1837) eight kilometers [five miles] southeast of Tikrit near Owja July 28. . . . The cache consisted of nine surface-to-air missiles, 11 57 mm anti-aircraft artillery rounds, 300 14.5 mm anti-aircraft artillery rounds, and 300 23 mm anti-aircraft artillery rounds."
One insurgent killed and one wounded and captured after attacking (http://www.lincolntribune.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=1837) Iraqi police in Baghdad's Al Askan District on July 28.
"Iraqi Army soldiers conducting a traffic control point detained (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jul2005/20050730_2282.html) suspected anti-Iraq forces in Mosul, Iraq, July 29, according to a multinational forces report. Soldiers with 1st Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 2nd Iraqi Army Division detained 10 suspected insurgents, five of whom attempted to escape before they were transported to Al Kindi for further questioning. . . . Elsewhere, Iraqi Army soldiers detained six suspects. Soldiers with 5th Battalion, 1st Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division conducted a joint cordon-and-search operation in Baghdad with elements of 2nd Battalion, 156th U.S. Infantry Regiment. The effort resulted in the capture of six suspected insurgents, five who had been targeted the Iraqi forces. . . . In Al Batha, Iraqi security forces detained an additional 27 suspected criminals and terrorists."
Nine insurgents (http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/GEO916768.htm), five of whom were reported to be Syrians, killed by the Iraqi and the American troops in a village northwest of Baghdad on July 29.
Task Force Liberty Soldiers killed one and detained three (http://i-newswire.com/pr39725.html) terrorists who were attempting to place a roadside bomb in Samarra July 30.
Eleven insurgents (http://www.billingsgazette.com/index.php?id=1&display=rednews/2005/07/31/build/world/35-iraqmarines.inc) killed in a village near Haditha, north-west of Baghdad, after Marines came under attack from a school building on July 31.
A large weapons cache (http://www.ktvb.com/news/localnews/stories/ktvbn-aug0105-weapons_recovered.30f6c957.html) found by soldiers from the 116th Brigade Combat Team in Mamah on Aug. 1.
On Aug. 3, "Ministry of Interior security forces raided a hidden basement used for storing weapons at the al-Nahdah garage after receiving intelligence information. A source at the ministry said they raided the Bab al-Sheikh area and confiscated antiaircraft rockets with their launchers (http://www.iwpr.net/archive/ipm/ipm_298.html). They also arrested 25 suspects in the Salaman Pak and Abu Disheer areas."
"In the 48 hours spanning Aug. 3 and 4, Soldiers of 1st Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, 256th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division conducted a series of raids (http://www.centcom.mil/CENTCOMNews/News_Release.asp?NewsRelease=20050811.txt) to nab key planners of terrorist attacks and to seize weapons and bomb-making materials in Abu Ghraib, a western province of Baghdad. The Soldiers captured four suspected terrorists, discovered five weapons caches, and confiscated more than $2,000 in U.S. currency."
"Multi-National Forces from Task Force Freedom detained 28 suspected terrorists (http://www.blackanthem.com/TheAllies/2005080403.html) and responded to an attack against Iraqi Police during operations in northern Iraq Aug. 3 and 4."
Forty-one suspected terrorists (http://www.centcom.mil/CENTCOMNews/News_Release.asp?NewsRelease=20050812.txt), including three foreign fighters, captured by Task Force Baghdad soldiers during Operation Able Warrior west of the Baghdad International Airport on Aug. 4.
"Results (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Aug2005/20050808_2370.html) from operations conducted between July 30 and Aug. 5 include the discovery and clearance of 109 improvised explosive devices and 32 caches; the capture of 805 insurgent fighters, with the subsequent detention of 493; and the death or capture of 11 foreign fighters."
Six insurgents (http://www.lincolntribune.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=1989) were killed and 12 captured in various repelled attacks Aug. 6. In the words of Maj. Liston Edge of Kennesaw, Ga., an operations officer with the 48th Brigade Combat Team, "The enemy came to fight us with no success."
Following intelligence from a previously captured insurgent, a terror safe house (http://www.centcom.mil/CENTCOMNews/News_Release.asp?NewsRelease=20050813.txt) in Baghdad used as a base of operations and a storage for explosives, was destroyed by the coalition forces on Aug. 6. There were several secondary explosions.
On Aug. 8, "Iraqi soldiers and police backed by Italian troops (http://www.adnki.com/index_2Level.php?cat=Security&loid=8.0.195030461&par=0) have captured an unspecified number of 'terrorists' near the southern Iraqi city of Nassiriya."
On Aug. 8, "U.S. Marines discovered a car bomb factory (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,165094,00.html) Monday in a western Iraqi town near where 20 members of the American unit were killed last week. . . . Six vehicles rigged with explosives were found in the hideout in the northern part of Haqlaniyah, one of a cluster of towns in western Anbar province long believed to be a stronghold of Iraqi insurgents and foreign fighters."
On Aug. 9, "Task Force Freedom raided a terrorist chemical facility (http://wordunheard.com/archives/2005/08/terrorist_chemi_1.php) in Northern Iraq, acting on information gleaned through detainee interrogations. Over 1,500 gallons of various chemicals were confiscated, along with various production equipment."
And so, the coalition and Iraqi security forces continue the fight against the terrorists. As for the media, that's something we will have to battle against.

August 22nd, 2005, 11:37 AM
Hmmm...The pentagon is actually doing press releases on successes.


August 22nd, 2005, 12:03 PM
Thanks Dj. Now if there was just some way of getting this info out to the rest of America, I sure the polls would swing upward in regards to the war effort.

August 22nd, 2005, 03:54 PM
Thanks Dj. Now if there was just some way of getting this info out to the rest of America, I sure the polls would swing upward in regards to the war effort.

Unfortunately, the positive news goes ignored, much in the way this thread has.

August 22nd, 2005, 04:00 PM
Hmmm...The pentagon is actually doing press releases on successes.

Because the press only does press releases on what it considers failures.

August 22nd, 2005, 04:02 PM
Because the press only does press releases on what it considers failures.

Paranoia alert..........

August 22nd, 2005, 04:13 PM
Paranoia alert..........

You must not read newspapers or watch television news much.

Here's a hopeful editorial re: Muslim minds turning West--

Monday, August 22, 2005
August 22, 2005
Of Minds and Metrics
By Michael Barone

Metrics are hard to come by in the war on terrorism. We can know the number of improvised explosive devices that go off in Iraq and the number of suicide bombers there, but we can only guess at whether these numbers represent the last throes of a terrorist movement or its continuing growth.

We can count the number of days the Iraqi parliament has moved the deadline for drafting a constitution -- seven, as this is written -- but cannot be sure what the effect of a finally drafted constitution will be.

We can note that some 220,000 Iraqis took part in deliberations over the constitution and that the Iraqi electricity supply now exceeds that of prewar levels.

But the most important changes occurring -- not just in Iraq, but across the Muslim world -- are changes in people's minds. These are harder, but not impossible, to measure.

George W. Bush has proclaimed that we are working to build democracy in Iraq not just for Iraqis, but in order to advance freedom and defeat fanatical Islamist terrorism around the world. Now comes the Pew Global Attitudes Project's recent survey of opinion in six Muslim countries to tell us that progress is being made in achieving that goal.

Minds are being changed, and in the right direction.

Most importantly, support for terrorism in defense of Islam has "declined dramatically," in the Pew report's words, in Muslim countries, except in Jordan (which has a Palestinian majority) and Turkey, where support has remained a low 14 percent. It has fallen in Indonesia (from 27 percent to 15 percent since 2002), Pakistan (from 41 percent to 25 percent since 2004) and Morocco (from 40 percent to 13 percent since 2004), and among Muslims in Lebanon (from 73 percent to 26 percent since 2002).

Support for suicide bombings against Americans in Iraq has also declined. The percentage reporting some confidence in Osama bin Laden is now under 10 percent in Lebanon and Turkey, and has fallen sharply in Indonesia.

Similarly, when asked whether democracy was a Western way of doing things or could work well in their own country, between 77 percent and 83 percent in Lebanon, Morocco, Jordan and Indonesia say it could work in their country -- in each case a significant increase from earlier surveys. In Turkey, with its sharp political divisions, and Pakistan, with its checkered history, the percentages hover around 50 percent.

Polls in the United States may show that Americans have become less supportive of our efforts in Iraq, as the suicide bombings and roadside-bomb attacks continue. But the Pew polls in these Muslim countries demonstrate that those attacks have moved Muslim opinion against the terrorists and toward democracy. Muslims around the world cannot help but notice that Iraq is moving, however imperfectly, toward representative government. They can't have missed the "Cedar Revolution" in Lebanon and the expulsion of Syrian forces from Beirut. They may have noticed the small concessions to democracy in Saudi Arabia.

They may also have noticed that Egypt will have its first contested election for president next year.

"There were no arguments over the United States, Israel, Palestine, Iraq or any of the other 'hot spots' that used to dominate every meal and spill over into tea, coffee and dessert," writes Mona Eltahawy in The Washington Post of her trip to Egypt this summer. "This time, all conversations were about a small but active opposition movement in Egypt that since December has focused on ending the dictatorship of President Hosni Mubarak. I have never heard so many relatives and friends take such an interest in Egyptian politics or -- more important -- feel that they had a stake in them." Minds are indeed changing.

This is not to say that everybody in these countries has good things to say about the United States. But we are not engaged in a popularity contest. We're trying to construct a safer world. We are in the long run better off if Muslims around the world turn away from terrorism and move toward democracy, even if we don't like some of the internal policies they choose and even if they don't have much affection for the United States.

Two generations ago, Americans, at the cost of hundreds of thousands of deaths, changed minds in Germany and Japan. The Pew Global Project Attitude's metrics give us reason to believe that today's Americans, at far lower cost, are changing minds in the Muslim world.

August 22nd, 2005, 06:30 PM
Nice article Kolobotomy. :thumbup:

August 30th, 2005, 06:54 AM
The latest 2-week round-up...

Major's Frustration
A roundup of the past two weeks' good news from Iraq.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 12:01 a.m. EDT

Maj. Joe Leahy (http://www.darnews.com/articles/2005/08/15/news/news17.txt) is a civil engineer with the U.S. Army's Engineer Brigade. He has been stationed at Camp Victory, outside of Baghdad, since November 2004--enough time to get frustrated. "We all know it's a dangerous place," he says. "But the thing that I want people to understand is that they only see those one or two instances in the country that are negative. You don't really hear about the 100 things that have gone good."

He adds, "One thing we've got to understand is that it's not going to happen tomorrow, but we are doing something that's getting better every day."

Leahy's good-bad ratio may be debatable, but many servicemen and their families and friends back home, not to mention the general public, have been getting frustrated lately with the media coverage of Iraq--enough so to cause some limited, though still welcome, soul-searching (http://tampatrib.com/opinion/MGBQKJP0MCE.html) among major media outlets. Whether the coverage will improve as a result remains to be seen. In the meantime, here are the past two weeks' worth of stories, some of which you might have missed.

August 30th, 2005, 06:55 AM

Some Sunnis don't like the proposals, but that's democracy. There's certainly nothing like a major political disagreement to motivate people to engage in the political process (http://www.cbc.ca/cp/world/050812/w081242.html):

Angered by Shiite calls for a federal region, Sunni clerics urged followers . . . to vote against the constitution if it contains measures they believe would divide the country. . . .

Iraq's three major Sunni organizations appeared to have taken a united stand both for voting and against demands for federalism after they boycotted the Jan. 30 parliamentary elections. . . . Sheik Mahmoud al-Sumaidaie, of the influential Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars, told worshippers at Baghdad's Umm al-Qura mosque to register for the upcoming votes because "we are in need to your voice to say 'yes' for the constitution or 'no.' "

Such voices are growing louder (http://www.almendhar.com/english_5304/news.aspx) and increasingly representative of the whole Sunni community:

The general conference of Sunnis in Iraq, which includes "the Sunni Mortmain," "the Association of Muslim Scholars," "the Iraqi Islamic Party," and a group of Sunni parties and organizations, was held in Baghdad and has urged all Arab Sunnis to participate in the coming elections.

In his speech before hundreds of attendees, Ahmed Abdel Ghafur Al Samera'i said, "Participating in the plebiscite on the constitution is a prescribed duty for all Sunnis."

He added, "I swear to Allah that the greatest privilege, through which you gain the love of Allah, is your efforts in participating in the coming elections and gathering the Sunnis, hoping that Allah would alleviate their suffering."

Alaa Maki, member of the political bureau in the "Iraqi Islamic Party," has confirmed, "The party has suggested the provision of cities of Sunni majority with additional lists, so that everyone would be able to register their information in the electors and plebiscite on the permanent constitution records." He added, "We would enter the elections with a heavier weight than some people imagine. We would continue in participating in the political process side by side with the constituents of the Iraqi people." He referred to the existence of some misunderstanding among the political blocs, with regard to the elections' law and the mechanism of executing them. He called all Imams and preachers to direct and urge people to participate in the plebiscite on the permanent constitution and participate in the coming elections.

Check out the flier (http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/2005/08/yesterday-in-afternoon-i-picked-up.html) the Islamic Party, is distributing, which aims to convince Sunnis that voting is a religious duty. What a difference a few months can make.

There's also a change of mind (http://www.iwpr.net/archive/ipm/ipm_304.html) in this former trouble spot: After boycotting the previous elections, Falluja is preparing to participate in the referendum on the constitution. Falluja's clerics council advised the Imams of the mosques and the people not to miss this historical chance and to take part in it through the four centers opened there. Community leaders and clerics organized lectures to educate the people about the importance of their participation and that the constitution is for the interests of all Iraqis, which will decide their identities.

Here's more from Fallujah (http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2005-08/19/content_3375351.htm):

All indications showed that there is high percentage of people in the regions that boycotted the last parliamentary elections are registering their names to participate in the coming October referendum and the general elections next January, Laith Kubba told the press.

In Fallujah, considered one of the major hotbed of Iraqi insurgency, clerics of mosques called on the residents in the city to participate in the constitution referendum scheduled to be held in mid October.

They urged the residents through loudspeakers to participate and say "no" to those who want to isolate them from the political process.

The Iraqi Islamic Party, the largest Sunni party, also distributed handouts calling on the people to participate the referendum. Many of the residents showed support and desire to participate.

"I want to participate and I call on the people of the city to do so because we do not want to let those who came from the other side of the border to rule us again," said Mohammed Uthman, a government employee. "If we don't participate this time, it means we let the present government to continue, and thus the real ruler would be the Iranians and not the Iraqis," he added.

Four registration centers (http://www.almendhar.com/english_5381/news.aspx) have been opened in Fallujah.

The main Sunni terror group, Ansar Al Sunna, and the Shiite radical Muqtada al-Sadr have both been calling on supporters to register (http://www.adnki.com/index_2Level.php?cat=Politics&loid=8.0.199451272&par=0) to vote in the constitution referendum: [One] statement issued by six of the seven Ansar groups promised that there will not be attacks against Americans on the day of the referendum, "to protect those who go to vote." "Voting is a jihad of words and is no different from the jihad of the sword," the statement said. 'There are no objections to participation in the referendum to show the world our strength and to defeat federalism."

Registration (http://www.almendhar.com/english_5556/news.aspx) is now in full swing:

The Independent Supreme Commission for Elections has announced launching more than 500 centers for registering electors in all Iraqi cities. Farid Ayar, member of the commission council said in a statement, "There are543 centers all over Iraq, of which 517 are currently working regularly." He pointed out, "The necessary protection has been provided for the working centers. There are 26 closed centers at present, due to the lack of sufficient security protection."

The U.S. Agency for International Development has been helping to bring the constitutional debate to the people (http://www.reliefweb.int/library/documents/2005/usaid-irq-11aug.pdf) (link in PDF):

The Constitutional Dialogue program has organized over 3,000 dialogues throughout Iraq, reaching almost 80,000 Iraqis who also shared their opinions through 64,000 questionnaires. To date, 210 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have participated, including 151 NGOs contracted by USAID and 59 NGOs working as volunteers. Feedback indicates that the dialogues are achieving their dual purpose; to educate and consult the public.

In other recent USAID initiatives (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/EGUA-6FHQTU?OpenDocument&rc=3&cc=irq):

Over the past month, USAID arranged for 18 experts to provide assistance to the Iraqi National Assembly's (INA) Constitutional Committee resulting in the production of 72 topical papers in Arabic on issues including federalism, natural resource allocation, human rights and electoral systems. . . .

The final constitutional dialogues were conducted last week, reaching over 79,000 Iraqis in over 3,100 meetings. . . . USAID representatives organized a workshop to address the advantages and disadvantages of various electoral systems.

USAID is also helping the growth of the local government throughout Iraq:

USAID's Local Governance Program (LGP) is promoting the organization of Local Government Associations (LGAs) throughout Iraq. The LGAs will act as lobbying and advocacy organizations to represent the interests of the local government without having any authority to direct their operations. Recent activities included:

A training session on the role of LGAs for 23 new members of an LGA in Babil Governorate. LGA members met with the local INA office to explain the role of LGAs and to present a list of issues related to local government.
In Karbala Governorate, LGP and LGA members met to map out forthcoming activities and to plan a conference on the impending Constitution to raise public awareness. On July 17 LGA members and the LGP met with the Provincial Council (PC) to provide an update on activities and to offer assistance. The LGA suggested providing education and advocacy to the general public on the legal responsibilities of the PC.
The LGP presented training sessions on "Understanding Public Services" for 36 LGA members--24 men and 12 women.
Past wrongs are being righted (http://www.columbiatribune.com/2005/Aug/20050824News013.asp):

Even a year ago, the dusty, rolling hills north of Kirkuk were largely barren. But the horizon has changed rapidly in recent months with a flurry of newly constructed cinder block homes dotting the hillsides.

Thousands of returning Kurds have transformed pockets of land around Kirkuk into small settlements--leading to the rebirth of villages once emptied out by former dictator Saddam Hussein under his "Arabization" plan to force out ethnic Kurds and Turkomen.

In this village, 15 miles northeast of Kirkuk, hundreds of new houses have sprouted since January because the flow of displaced Kurds returning to the area has grown steadily since the U.S.-led ouster of Saddam in 2003.

"We are starting from the beginning again," Mayor Abdul Samad Rahim Karim said. "God willing, we will succeed in making Shwan better than before."

The returnees are a legacy from Saddam's era, when the Ba'athist Party forcibly expelled tens of thousands of Kurds and Turkomen and replaced them with Arabs from the south to consolidate government control over oil resources and farmlands located in northern Iraq. In other places, the Kurds' return, many to squatter camps around the city, and their demands for restoration of their property have provoked sharp protests from many Arabs as well as Turkomen in the community.

The Ministry of Immigration is working to restore Iraqi citizenship (http://www.almendhar.com/english_5350/news.aspx) to people who have lost it or been stripped of it in the past. And trade unions (http://www.personneltoday.com/Articles/2005/08/19/31231/Trade+unions+on+the+rise+in+Iraq.htm), once banned, are reviving in Iraq.

In entertainment news, 2,000 hopefuls sign up for the Iraqi "American Idol" (http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/HAM951157.htm):

Many Iraqis already obsessively watch "American Idol," a version of the original British "Pop Idol" franchise, and a glitzy Lebanese copy called "Arab Superstar" on free-to-air Arabic satellite channels.

But "Iraq Star" is a brave indigenous effort to perk up the spirits of a depressed nation. The studio set is spartan and drab, and there is no studio audience, though viewers are being promised tinseltown touches when the finale is held in Beirut.

"We are trying to lighten the load and problems Iraqis are going through," said director Wadia Nader during recording of an episode this weekend in a Baghdad hotel. "We had shows like this in the 1960s when people were discovered on television. But since then, with so many wars, Iraqis couldn't see this kind of thing," he added.

Another show entertains and helps fight the insurgency (http://www.newsday.com/entertainment/tv/wire/sns-ap-iraq-cops-show,0,5766539.story?coll=sns-ap-tv-headlines) at the same time:

Shattered glass, body parts, a blood-splattered blue sedan: the grainy video pans over the scene as Iraqi officers comb the site of a drive-by assassination.

It's "Cops" Iraqi-style, minus the "Bad Boys" soundtrack but otherwise roughly modeled after the American TV show.

Created to make government more transparent, "The Cops Show" featuring Kirkuk officers in action is the first of its kind in the country and is breaking new ground in Iraqi television. A live call-in portion gives the public the chance to praise the security forces or gripe about them.

Screened weekly on Kirkuk Television, which broadcasts in this northern city of nearly 1 million people, "The Cops Show" has opened the floodgates in a community long suppressed.

"During Saddam Hussein's time, it was very different," station manager Nasser Hassan Mohammed said. "You were unable to ask questions. You couldn't say anything bad about police.

"Now people can call in directly. Anyone has the right to do this. This is the difference now. This is freedom."

The call-in portion, initially a novelty, has become a staple of the show, and panelists field up to 30 calls per segment, Mohammed said. And because Kirkuk is ethnically mixed, the show switches among the languages spoken by Kurds, Arabs, Turkomen or Assyrians.

It took Iraqis a while to master the art of the phone-in. "But after more than a year, they understand very well," Mohammed said.

There's also some much-needed foreign help to preserve Iraqi historical heritage (http://www.azzaman.com/english/index.asp?fname=news%5C2005-08-24%5C10496.htm):

Denmark, Italy and the United Nations have extended new grants to preserve ancient sites in the southern Province of Dihqar [sic], the province's deputy governor, Ahmad Ali, said.

Dhiqar is home to some of Mesopotamia's best-known ruins, among them those belonging to the fabled Sumerian cities of Ur and Larsa.

"An agreement has been signed with the United Nations Development program to maintain and develop archaeological and tourist sites in the province," Ali said.

He said Italy has allocated $450,000 for the construction of "a cultural and information center in Nasiriya, the provincial capital. Dhiqar, with an area of 12,900 km square, is a key southern province. Besides its archaeological riches, the province is the site of major oil fields.

August 30th, 2005, 06:56 AM

An International Monetary Fund (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml?xml=/money/2005/08/17/cnimf17.xml&menuId=242&sSheet=/money/2005/08/17/ixcity.html) report paints a picture of Iraq beset by problems, but nevertheless with good prospects:

Iraq is suffering from rampant inflation, endemic disease and falling oil production, the International Monetary Fund said yesterday in its first review of the country for 25 years.

Nevertheless, Lorenzo Perez, the IMF director who oversaw the review, said that in the medium term he was "quite optimistic" about the country's prospects, although this will "depend on the level of oil prices."

"It is easy to overlook that the establishment and maintenance of relative macro-economic stability in the midst of violence is an achievement in itself," he added. The IMF said sweeping reforms were needed in almost every sector of the economy, which is thought to have halved in size between 1999 and 2003, when the invasion occurred.

A formal agency (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/Iraq+Investment+Promotion+Agency+established+for+j ob+creation%2C+economic+development__1111433.html? PHPSESSID=414b8e1648d38e3f8d3e113b0edb7ed1) will chase the investment dollar for Iraq:

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Andrew Natsios and Iraq's Minister of Planning signed an agreement in Amman, Jordan, to establish the Iraq Investment Promotion Agency, which will play a leading role in job creation and economic development for years to come.

The agreement commits USAID to equip the new agency's staff and train them in managing the organization and promoting investment.

Support will be delivered through USAID's Izdihar project, whose staff had worked with the Government of Iraq to develop an investment promotion strategy that culminated in the signed agreement.

With the creation of the Iraq Investment Promotion Agency, Iraq will join the more than 160 other countries with similar agencies that compete for approximately $7 trillion annually in foreign direct investment worldwide. In addition, the work of the new agency will help expand the markets for Iraq's domestic products and services, stimulate economic growth and create new jobs at home.

Authorities are taking some tentative steps toward privatization (http://www.azzaman.com/english/index.asp?fname=news2005-08-2110491.htm):

The Ministry of Industry has set up a committee to register eight major state-owned companies on the Baghdad Stock Exchange.

A statement faxed to the newspaper did not say when these firms will go public but stressed that the move will not be initiated until the ministry works out guarantees that tens of thousands of employees that will keep their jobs.

The committee is currently evaluating these companies and would advise the ministry on the price and number of shares that will be available to the public at the Baghdad exchange.

Taha Ismael, who heads a central commission charged with privatizing of state-owned companies, said the move will cover four cement factories, a pharmaceutical firm, and three construction enterprises. "Employees will be given share options which they can buy and pay for later," he said.

USAID is helping to bring the Iraqi accounting profession (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/KHII-6FA5XB?OpenDocument&rc=3&cc=irq) into the 21st century:

Sixteen Iraqi accounting and auditing professionals recently received international accounting standards training in Amman, Jordan, as part of the Izdihar project. The sixteen professionals, who are members of accounting and auditing associations, university professors and industry practitioners, will become the core group of trainers who will lead seminars for more than 300 accounting students and industry professionals in Iraq.

During more than a decade of isolation, Iraq lost touch with international accounting standards, international financial reporting standards, and ethical standards for accountants and requirements for typical modern annual reporting for corporations. In order to address these needs, the training of trainers program was developed to improve the skills of Iraqi accountants, strengthen the accounting industry in Iraq and enhance the accountability, transparency and usefulness of financial documents used to make sound business management decisions.

Kurdistan (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4145110.stm) continues to boom:

Fly into Arbil, the regional capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, and you feel that you have arrived in another country.

It is the Kurdish, not the Iraqi, flag that flutters from Arbil International Airport, Kurdistan's new, glass-fronted "gateway" to the world, which saw its first flights from Dubai, Beirut and Amman arrive last month.

The airport was built on a former military base once used by Saddam Hussein's regime to bomb the Kurds of Halabja.

Now it brings in investors. Businessmen, scared away from other parts of Iraq, are coming to Kurdistan instead, and helping its economy to take off.

"Before all we saw was war, and planes bombing our cities and villages," says the airport manager, Kameran Murad, who fought against the regime in the late 1980s.

"Now the aircraft are our link with the outside world. Everything is changing."

Take the town of Suleimaniya. Its skyline is dotted with cranes. Everywhere you look bulldozers are at work.

"Things are booming. The price of land is ridiculous. It's just going up and up and up," says businessman Bettin Saleh, who has two shops in a new mall.

"People have money, people are spending it, they feel it's safe to spend--and build for the future."

And there's no shortage of labour, as Arab Iraqis head north to join the Kurdish workforce. "I'm here because it's dangerous where I'm from and there are no jobs," says Aziz Abed Ali, from Baghdad. "Here it is safe and there is work."

So does Najaf (http://www.iwpr.net/index.pl?archive/irq/irq_138_5_eng.txt), thanks to religious tourism:

Property prices in Najaf are being driven through the roof by the Shia visitors who have flocked to its holy sites since the invasion of Iraq by Coalition forces.

Home to the shrine of Imam Ali, a cousin of the prophet Mohammed and a revered figure in Shia Islam, Najaf is considered a top pilgrimage site by members of the denomination.

These include millions living across the border in Iran, who were unable to visit during the reign of Saddam Hussein.

The fall of his regime and accompanying thaw in relations between the two countries has brought with it an influx of pilgrims. And there are plans to spend 20 million US dollars on a new international airport near Najaf, with the help of a low-interest loan from Iran.

At the same time, local real estate agents and entrepreneurs say they are doing a roaring trade. "Those experienced in religious tourism have started to buy land and buildings in order to turn them into hotels and tourist villages," said Hussein Abdullah, who owns a real estate agency. "They expect [that in the future] Iraq will be the focal point in the world."

Iraq's economic links with other countries (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/IFC+to+invest+$210+million+in+Iraq+cement+works__1 111458.html?PHPSESSID=14d8898c62d72567ae4cff87fa84 81b8) keep expanding:

International Finance Corporation (IFC) considered the possibility of investing $210.3 million in the construction project of cement works in Iraq with a productive capacity of 2.9 million tons per annum. Also according to Russian analysis agency AK&M, IFC intends to participate in the capital of new company by investing $8.3 million. The first investment project in Iraq with participation of IFC was realized in finance sector in November 2004 when IFC invested $35 million in the capital of Credit Bank of Iraq.

The Baghdad Chamber of Commerce and its Swedish counterpart have signed an agreement for the establishment of a joint chamber of commerce (http://www.almendhar.com/english_5345/news.aspx) to foster economic and other cooperation between the two countries. There is also some input (http://www.iraqdirectory.com/files/articles/article668.htm) from other European countries: A group of German and European companies has asked the ministry of labor and social affairs to employ 5278 unemployed workers to employ them in projects that those companies planning to start in Iraq. The (RIRP) group-companies have asked the ministry to provide them with workers and the department of job finding in the ministry has started to provide the needed numbers.

Iraq's foreign debt, accumulated to a massive extent by Saddam, is being progressively written off. The latest country to partially forgive Iraq's debt is Romania (http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/08-18-2005/0004090856&EDATE=), which has reduced liability by 80%, from $2.5 billion to $500 million. Bulgaria (http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2005-08/22/content_3389335.htm) is writing off $340 million of Iraqi debt and extending the repayment of the remaining 80% by 20 to 25 years.

Oil production and exports continue to improve (http://www.forbes.com/business/feeds/afx/2005/08/15/afx2180951.html):

Iraq has stepped up oil production from its southern oilfields by 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 2.3 mln bpd, a spokesman for the state-owned South Oil Company told Agence France-Presse.

"Production from the southern oilfields has been increased to 2.3 mln barrels per day from today," said Samir Jassem Masquqi.

Southern Iraqi oil production was previously 2 mln bpd, of which 1.5 mln barrels were exported and the rest used for domestic consumption.

Iraq produces and exports from 450,000 to 550,000 bpd from its northern oilfields.

Oil Minister Ibrahim Bahr al-Ulum said last week that oil exports and revenue had reached their highest levels since March 2003, when US-led forces invaded the country.

Crude exports rose 11 pct to 1.6 mln bpd in July, compared to 1.44 mln barrels the month before. Oil export revenues reached 2.5 bln dollars in July, Ulum said.

In communications news:

The Korean government has expressed its readiness to supply Iraq with an internet system (http://www.almendhar.com/english_5418/news.aspx), of a capacity of 10000 subscribers as a test system, in the field of the mutual cooperation between the two countries.

This came during the visit of Dr. Javan Fuad Masum, telecommunication minister, to the Korean embassy, where she met the Korean ambassador to Baghdad. The ambassador expressed his hope for establishing a group of projects relating to the field of telecommunications, including the development of an ADSL system, in specific. He promised to provide Iraq with an internet system, in addition to training 10 technicians in this field in Korea. The ambassador has promised to bear the responsibility of erecting and operating the Korean exchanges (Samsung brand), which Iraq has been provided with earlier.

Air travel (http://tvnz.co.nz/view/page/411749/605803) revives in Iraq:

If there's one business that's quite literally taking off in Iraq right now, it's air travel, with more and more Iraqis lining up to get out of their troubled land, either for a break or forever.

Since resuming flights a year ago after being grounded for 14 years by sanctions, Iraqi Airways now operates 20 flights a week to destinations like Amman, Damascus, Istanbul and Dubai.

Many are fully booked, producing a hectic scramble at Baghdad airport when the gate is called, as desperate passengers clamber over one another to get to the front of the line.

Routes to Beirut, Cairo, Saudi Arabia and Iran are expected to begin in the coming weeks, and a flight to London from Basra or Baghdad is on the cards for late September or October.

"The expansion is going very well," Captain Ali al-Bayaa, chief executive of the airline and a former pilot, said on Thursday as he oversaw operations at Baghdad's airport, possibly the most heavily defended airfield in the world.

"We should have a flight starting to Cairo in the next 10 days, which will be very popular," he said.

For 18 months after Saddam Hussein was toppled, the country remained too dangerous for commercial airlines, with insurgents occasionally firing shoulder-fired missiles at aircraft.

Then Royal Jordanian began a regular service to and from Amman, employing South African pilots and air crew to fly the route, which involves a dizzyingly tight spiral take-off and landing in Baghdad to avoid the threat of rocket attack. Now, two and a half years after Saddam's fall, there are half a dozen airlines jetting in and out of Baghdad, supplying a rapidly growing demand for air travel. At the same time, travel agencies are opening up again after years of inactivity.

International flights return to Basra (http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticle.asp?xfile=data/business/2005/August/business_August482.xml&section=business&col=):

The first international airline flight to land in the southern Iraqi city of Basra in 15 years arrived here yesterday [Aug. 22] receiving a warm welcome from local officials. A Sharjah-based Phoenix Air Boeing 747 arrived from Dubai with 22 passengers on board. The company will begin two flights a week between Dubai and Basra, Iraq's second largest city, officials said. "Hopefully flights to Iraq will increase from the region and the world," said Basra's governor Mohammed Al Waili at the airport while greeting the arriving passengers. Since the U.N. imposed economic sanctions in 1990 after Iraq invaded Kuwait, no foreign airline has flown to Basra.

Iraqi authorities are now working to convert the Najaf airport (http://www.iraqdirectory.com/files/articles/article662.htm) from military to international commercial use. Meanwhile, the first flight (http://www.iraqdirectory.com/files/articles/article667.htm) of Tigris Air from Iraq touched down in Cairo. Flights between Iraq and Baku, Azerbeijan (http://www.bakutoday.net/view.php?d=14481), are planned. So are six flights a week between Syria (http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2005-08/21/content_3385760.htm) and Iraq.

On the land, the specialists from the state railway company are currently working on designs to link the Iraqi and the Iranian railway networks (http://www.iraqdirectory.com/files/articles/article665.htm). Speaking of railways, a major renovation effort (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/PCO+renovates+97+railway+stations+in+Iraq__1111443 .html?PHPSESSID=739bff8e737a65bac0d7bc6cf586a678) is currently under way across the country:

Ninety-seven railway stations have been renovated by the Facilities & Transportation (F&T) Sector of the Project & Contracting Office (PCO). The $42 million railroad program has 28 more stations to complete.

Forty-one of the completed stations are in northern Iraq throughout the governorates of Salah al-Din, Ninewa and Tameem. . . .

Reconstruction work included electrical work; plumbing, sanitation and water delivery system upgrades; roof repairs; installation or repair of air conditioning units; and interior renovations such as painting, plaster and tile work.

There are two main types of railway stations under renovation: five-room crew stations used only by railway workers, and nine-room passenger stations for use both by railway passengers and railway workers, according to the PCO. Of the 97 railway stations to be worked on by the PCO, approximately 22 are passenger stations; the rest are crew stations only.

Currently the railway works out to be about 30 percent passenger use and 70 percent freight use.

The railway stretches from southern to northern Iraq, approximately 1,260 miles of track, with railway stations appearing about every 15 miles.

One of the major stations under renovation is Baghdad Station, currently scheduled for completion by early December 2005. Other projects currently under construction include train maintenance and repair shops in Kirkuk, Al-Samawa and Baiji, with another one planned in Baghdad. Station renovation work is a joint effort between PCO, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the Iraqi Republic Railroads (IRR) and local Iraqi workers.

August 30th, 2005, 06:57 AM

In Baghdad, major telecommunications (http://www.almendhar.com/english_5373/news.aspx) infrastructure will be rebuilt and renovated:

As of October 1, works would start on rehabilitating what has been destroyed, during the bombing with American planes and rockets, of the telecommunication building and tower in Al Ma'moun region, west of Baghdad, or what has been known as "Saddam Tower" before April 9, 2003.

An Iraqi company would be in charge of the reconstruction, while a European company from Luxemburg would set the new designs for this building, which is considered as one of the most prominent landmarks of Baghdad, according to Javan Ma'sum, Iraqi telecommunications minister.

The minister added that the cost of rehabilitating the building and the tower reaches 20 million dollars, which are designated from the US aid to Iraq. She pointed out that a celebration would be held in Baghdad on this occasion, where the start of works that would totally depend on Iraqi expertise, would be announced.

Ma'sum noted that the design of the building and tower would be totally changed, where modernization and touches that reflect the Iraqi prospective of the project are domineering.

She said that the whole telecommunication building in Al Senk region, on Al Rasheed Street in Baghdad, would be knocked down, to be rebuilt later this year. This is due to the fact that the ministry experts found out that the overhauling and rehabilitation of the building would be more expensive than rebuilding it. She noted that Spain has promised to provide with the necessary finance for establishing a new exchange, with a high capacity to serve subscribers, in Al Diwaneya province (170 km south of Baghdad).

Italians (http://www.adnki.com/index_2Level.php?cat=Politics&loid=8.0.197608936&par=0) are contributing to the reconstruction of the south:

Italy has allocated 2.18 million euros [$2.68 million] for development in Iran's southern Nasiriya province, where most of the Itaiy's [sic] 3,000-stong military contingent in Iraq is based. "The funds will be used in Nasiriya and surroundings for several projects in the fields of health, education, drinkable water and infrastructures, including roads, sport facilities and the sewage system," Ahmad al-Shaykh Ali, the deputy governor of Dhi Qar region--under whose jurisdiction Nasiriya falls--told Adnkronos International (AKI). The project areas will jointly identified by the Italian army and the regional council.

Judicial infrastructure is also rising: Construction is complete on phase one of the $865,000 Basrah courthouse project (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Aug2005/20050820_2493.html). This five-phase project is expected to be complete in October. The main courthouse, expected to hold a number of high profile trials, continues to operate during construction. Iraqi subcontractors are working on the project, and employing an average of 70 local Iraqi workers daily.

The cleanup (http://www.almendhar.com/english_5355/news.aspx) of Iraq continues:

Rakan Ahmed Al Allaf, director of the general municipalities' administration in the ministry of municipalities and general works said, "Al Wehda municipality has lifted 1800 tons of garbage, 1400 m3 [370,000 gallons] of debris, 100 tons of wastes and has filled up 150 m3 [40,000 gallons] of swamps.

He added Al Zohur municipality has lifted 840 tons of garbage, 500 m3 [130,000 gallons] of debris and 40 tons of wastes, and has paved streets, filled up swamps with earth and finished the municipality building." He pointed out, "Al Jisr municipality has lifted the garbage and debris, which were accumulated in (101, 102, 103, 104 and 105) sites and Al Ta'mim district. It has lifted 1750 tons of garbage, 350 tons of debris, and 40 tons of wastes. It has also pulled the still rain water. Al Yousefeya municipality has lifted 125 tons of garbage and 30 m3 [8,000 gallons] of debris, and has cleaned 2500 meters of roads. In Al Rashedeya municipality, the districts of Al Zahra and Al Bad'a districts have been cleaned in addition to Al Naheya region. Gardens, parks and platforms have also been maintained." Al Allaf pointed out, "These municipalities managed to collect the rents of its real estate, lifted many violations over its lands, committed dust and stone operations in various districts to Iraqi contractors and companies to execute them."

A USAID program (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/EGUA-6FHQTU?OpenDocument&rc=3&cc=irq) is helping local communities to carry out projects:

USAID's Community Action Program (CAP) helped a community in Maysan Governorate rehabilitate its sports stadium. The 15,000 person stadium was built in 1959 and regularly hosted soccer and track and field competitions. However, during the war between Iraq and Iran, the stadium was used as an Army arsenal and was severely damaged during a bombardment, resulting in the closing of the facilities. CAP contracted the rehabilitation and the community association organized sports tournaments among the surrounding schools as part of its contribution towards this project. The stadium was handed over to the Directorate of Youth and Sports in May at an opening ceremony that drew many spectators and participants. The project is expected to benefit over 2,000 people.

A Baghdad area kindergarten was rebuilt with CAP assistance. The kindergarten was in a state of complete disrepair, making it almost impossible for teachers to gauge the educational and emotional development needs of the children. Classrooms were dark and damp and all furniture was broken. Parent and community association members in the area stressed to USAID the need to improve the facilities. The project was completed on May 4 and included the complete rehabilitation of the premises. The classrooms are now well lit, clean, and equipped with modern equipment. This project will benefit 204 pre-school children. CAP helped a community in At Tamim governorate pave its sidewalks around the town center. Most of the roads are not paved in this town in the southwest of the governorate causing flooding and muddy conditions. With paved sidewalks, people can move freely in their town and a heavy rainfall will not cause a local catastrophe.

The Iraqi authorities, in cooperation with the United Arab Emirates are planning some health-related projects (http://www.almendhar.com/english_5505/news.aspx):

A medical city and a faulty of medicine would be established in Al Sadr city, and the Emirati authorities would start establishing a medical city in Al Sadr city, which would include 4 big hospitals, laboratories and a faculty of medicine. The construction of the two hospitals in Thi Qar and Al Selaimania would start at the same time. He specified the achievement date by a period of less than two years.

Another two hospitals (http://www.almendhar.com/english_5524/news.aspx) will be established with the American support in Maisan province. Meanwhile, the authorities are setting up mobile medical centers (http://www.almendhar.com/english_5513/news.aspx) to provide care in areas of Baghdad with insufficient health infrastructure:

In coordination with a number of humanitarian, Baghdad health department has established medical centers and camps in some poor districts in Baghdad to offer medial assistance for the residents of these regions, which suffer from the spread of epidemics and diseases, due to the contamination of water and the lack of health services. Dr. Ahmed Al Zubeidi confirmed that these centers offer examinations and medical supplies for poor modest families in the regions of Al Dawra, Al Amel district, Al Baya', Sowaib, Al Radwaneya, and other regions, where there are no centers or hospitals for treating patients, and epidemics and diseases have spread due to the poor health services. He added that the mobile medical center includes more than five doctors of various specialties, who offer their medical services to patients. Each center or clinic can accommodate more than 600 patients. He pointed out that the majority of cases received in the center are children's and elders' diseases, in addition to the wounded.

Britain (http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,1555755,00.html) is involving its private sector in an effort to help train Iraqi medical personnel:

The government will today [Aug. 25] invite the private sector to compete with the NHS [National Health Service] for a contract to help rebuild the health service in Iraq.

About 50 medical teams will be invited to come to Britain over the next two years to update their skills. But, in a sign of the times, ministers think this assistance need not necessarily be provided by the flagship hospitals of the NHS.

They publish tender documents today for a "suitably qualified organisation or consortium" to arrange the clinical training at an expected cost of up to £5m. Aid for healthcare in Iraq has been directed at rebuilding hospitals and clinics. But discussions with Iraqi officials have identified upgrading skills as the most productive assistance. The teams that come to Britain will be expected to become "change agents" to spread reform on their return.

In education news, improvements (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Aug2005/20050820_2493.html) in schools continue:

More than 600 children will return to renovated or rebuilt schools in Maysan province when school starts this fall. This week, renovation on the Al-Eethnar Mud School was completed, and the Al Eethar Mud School was replaced at a cost of $87,000, benefiting 500 students who attend classes there. Eight newly built schools in Wassit and Babil provinces are receiving new furniture before the start of the school year. Each of the school projects will receive office desks and chairs, file cabinets and new student desks. Collectively, 400 three-student desks will be proportionally divided among the schools, based upon the number of students.

In other news:

Dr. Abdel Falah Hassan Al Sudani, education minister, confirmed that the ministry has decided to establish four model schools in each province (http://www.almendhar.com/english_5508/news.aspx). He added that these schools would be similar to Baghdad College, upon technical and scientific specifications. He added that the ministry is currently coordinating with international authorities and humanitarian organizations for the purpose of including a great number of schools in several Iraqi regions. The minister pointed out that the ministry is currently establishing more than 400 schools, upon new engineering and constructional criteria.

USAID's Higher Education and Development (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/EGUA-6FHQTU?OpenDocument&rc=3&cc=irq) program is helping to build ties between American and Iraqi universities to help rebuild the country's higher education system. Among the recent initiatives:

A fifth Iraqi archaeology student has arrived at the State University of New York's Stony Brook (SUNY/SB) campus. His English skills are in need of significant improvement but should improve during English training in the summer and fall semesters to be able to progress into the M.A. program in Archaeology in the Spring 2006 semester. . . .

On July 2, the International Human Rights Law Institute (IHRLI) at DePaul University's College of Law and the School of Law at a northern Iraqi university hosted the opening of newly renovated law library facilities. . . .

A soil sciences laboratory has been set up at a central Iraqi university with the assistance of the HEAD program's Al Sharaka partnership, a cooperative effort between five Iraqi Universities and a consortium of American universities led by the University of Oklahoma. . . . Three boxes of learning materials arrived recently for distribution at two Colleges of Agriculture and Forestry at northern Iraqi universities.

Electrical projects are progressing (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Aug2005/20050820_2493.html) across the country:

More reconstruction projects in Sadr City started this week, including a $13 million electrical distribution project. When the project is complete, an estimated 128,000 more people will have a reliable source of electricity. The project includes installation of power lines, 3,040 power poles, 80 transformers, 2,400 street lights, and power connections to individual homes, complete with meters. Construction started on the $3.8 million Al Rayash Electricity Substation project in the Al Daur district of Salah Ad Din province, located between Tikrit and Bayji. The project, expected to be complete in early December, will provide reliable service to 50,000 Iraqi homes and small businesses. An electric distribution and street lighting project in Daquq was completed on Aug. 17, providing new overhead distribution lines and street lighting in the community.

Meanwhile, the construction of electricity system in Fallujah (http://newsblaze.com/story/20050823070800nnnn.nb/newsblaze/TOPSTORY/Top-Story.html) is now 90% complete and should be finished by mid-September. And Iran will be selling 600 power generators (http://www.almendhar.com/english_5584/news.aspx) to Iraq.

Work continues on various water projects in Salahedin province (http://www.almendhar.com/english_5521/news.aspx): Engineer Ghazi Naji, assistant of the water general manager in the ministry of municipalities and public works said that the works have included repairing broken pipes of various diameters in Biji, Al Dur, Al Tuz and maintaining and repairing the pipes, pulling stations, control panels, washing pumps, filters, and chlorine devices in the water projects of Biji, Al Dur, Al Tuz and Al Sherqat.

Meanwhile, in the capital: About 2 million people will benefit from the Baghdad trunk sewer line (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Aug2005/20050820_2493.html), which was completed this week. Workers cleaned and repaired the Baghdad trunk sewer line and its associated manholes and pumping stations. The $17.48 million project restored principal sewage collection elements in the Adhamiya, Sadr City and Nissan districts of Baghdad, and will provide for the intended sewer flows to the Rustamiya wastewater treatment plant.

And in Basra (http://newsblaze.com/story/20050823070800nnnn.nb/newsblaze/TOPSTORY/Top-Story.html): Two million dollars of Iraq Reconstruction Program money was released to purchase electrical equipment for a Pump Station to upgrade Basra Sweetwater Canal system. This pump station will supply a constant and reliable source of water for two million Iraqis in Basra and the surrounding area.

Also: The Ministry of Environment announced a project (http://www.iwpr.net/archive/ipm/ipm_306.html) to control the quality of the drinking water for Iraq, which is aided by the World Health Organization. Nahla Hatim, manager of the project, said the cost of the project, which includes laboratory work and installing laboratories for environmental tests, is $2 million and will help out in protection of the environment and the water resources.

USAID is promoting the best agricultural practice (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/KHII-6FA5XB?OpenDocument&rc=3&cc=irq) throughout the country: The Agriculture Reconstruction and Development for Iraq (ARDI) program's recent winter crop demonstration showed that the modernized farming methods used produced crop yields that were an average of 48 percent higher than fields planted using traditional methods. Under the program, ARDI and the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) planted 40 demonstration areas on the fields of cooperating farmers in Sulaymaniyah, Arbil, and Da-huk. Each area contained two one-hectare plots; one planted using traditional practices and the other using modernized practices. . . . A total of 1,219 farmers and agriculture students participated in the field days.

In other (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/EGUA-6FHQTU?OpenDocument&rc=3&cc=irq) recent USAID initiatives:

Tomato farmers are harvesting higher yields thanks to improved technologies learned under the Open Field Tomato Demonstration initiative of USAID's Agriculture Reconstruction and Development for Iraq (ARDI) program. For the demonstrations, ARDI established plots in Baghdad, Diyala and Babylon governorates on which they introduced drip irrigation, black plastic mulch, and fertilization. With the Ministry of Agriculture, USAID representatives monitored the plots and helped participating farmers control tomato pests. . . .

A new sustainable fodder project in Wasit governorate will help livestock breeders improve the health and productivity of their sheep flocks. The project, which is sponsored by the ARDI program, focuses on farmers who tend flocks of 30 to 150 head of sheep, providing them with fodder for temporary relief and training in fodder production. . . . An ARDI program to improve buffalo calving rates through hormone treatments is showing positive results. The program is being implemented in Baghdad, Muthanna and Dhi Qar governorates where buffalo sometimes do not enter estrus during the hot season because of climactic stress, and may not successfully mate or produce milk.

A Connecticut man, meanwhile, has been working to revive Iraqi beekeeping (http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/local/scn-sa-nor.bees1aug20,0,7347051.story?coll=stam-news-local-headlines):

Hundreds of honeybees swarm around the 3-foot-high wooden hive in the suburban backyard at 33 Kettle St.

Flying in and out of narrow slits in the box-like structure, they form a buzzing cloud around Andrew Cote, who is trying to avoid being stung a seventh time.

"Mother of God," he says, his deadpan voice belying the pain of the sixth sting.

Cote has at least two stings on his underarms and one on his lower back, areas not covered by the mesh hood he donned minutes ago, as the bees became more agitated. "I got twice as many stings today as I did in two months in Iraq."

The 34-year-old Norwalk native returned on Aug. 11 from an aid mission to Iraq, where he spent the summer sharing his knowledge of bees and pollination with Iraqi farmers and beekeepers.

During the trip, sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development, heavily armed guards swarmed around him as he traveled from city to city in a convoy of armored vehicles. With estimates that as much as 80 percent of everything humans eat depends on pollination by bees, Cote said, restoring and improving agriculture in the war-ravaged country depends heavily upon the men, and a few women, who Cote helped train during his 10-week trip.

A new survey will help Iraq better manage its scarce water (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/First+planning+document+for+Iraq%27s+water+sector+ since+1982+developing__1111432.html?PHPSESSID=414b 8e1648d38e3f8d3e113b0edb7ed1):

Ministry representatives met to discuss the progress of the Strategy for Water and Land Resources in Iraq.

All participating ministries are collecting data relevant to water and land use, including hydrologic and hydro geologic information, water quality and crop-water requirements. This data will be used to analyze specific interventions and strategy priorities. . . . The Strategy for Water and Land Resources in Iraq will serve as the first inclusive planning document for Iraq's water sector since 1982. Through the planning process the Iraqi government will determine the availability of water resources. The strategy will then enable coordination between ministries and governorates to allocate those water resources. The strategy will also provide a foundation for continued restoration of the Southern Marshlands, and provide the Iraqi government with a strong position when negotiating international water treaties with its neighbors.

More good news for the southern marshlands and wetlands (http://www.adnki.com/index_2Level.php?cat=Politics&loid=8.0.196862617&par=0) once drained by Saddam as punishment for their rebellious inhabitants:

The Iraqi water minister Abd al-Latif Jamal Rashid has given the go ahead to an ambitious plan to build modern villages around the lakes in the south of the country and turn them into tourist areas. Announcing the plan, the ministry's spokesman told Adnkronos International (AKI): "the ministry has confirmed the start of work on different projects in those areas, with the financial and technical support of the US government in the context of the donation made to the Iraqi government," amounting to 450 million dollars. It follows an announcement last week by the water ministry that the Treasury had agreed to increase the money earmarked for the relaunch of the marshlands in the south of the country to 300 billion Iraqi dinars (one US dollar is roughly the equivalent of 1,470 Iraqi dinars). This money will also be used to carry out the projects to develop the lakes, which will be re-filled using fluvial channels.

As to the marshes (http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/science/20050823-1134-environment-iraq-marshlands.html) themselves:

The ancient Iraqi marshlands drained by Saddam Hussein as punishment against their occupants are back to almost 40 percent of their former level, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said on Wednesday.

In a rare good news story for Iraq, Nairobi-based UNEP said latest satellite imagery showed a 'phenomenal' recovery rate for the southern marshlands, back to almost 3,500 square km after dwindling to just 760 in 2002. . . .

UNEP said the marshlands totalled almost 9,000 square kilometres [3,500 square miles] in the 1970s--one of the world's largest wetlands with rare species like the Sacred Ibis bird.

While satellite images showed wetland cover back to nearly 40 percent of that in August, the figure was closer to 50 percent back in the Spring thanks to winter rains and snow melt in the headwaters of the Tigris and Euphrates, UNEP said.

"The new satellite imagery shows a rapid increase in water and vegetation cover over the last two years," it added in a statement. "While more detailed field analysis of soil and water quality is needed to gauge the exact state of rehabilitation, UNEP scientists believe the findings are a positive signal that the Iraqi marshlands are well on the road to recovery." Toepfer, however, warned that full reflooding would still take 'many years' and must be carefully nurtured.

With foreign assistance, Iraqi environmental specialists are getting trained (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/Environmental+health+education+in+Iraq+supported+b y+USAID__1111445.html?PHPSESSID=739bff8e737a65bac0 d7bc6cf586a678):

A Lab Technician training course to be held in Amman, Jordan, in early September is being planned for technicians from Iraq's five regional Environmental Health Education Resource Centers (EHERC).

The course is being sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Higher Education and Development (HEAD) program which supports a partnership between the State University of New York at Stony Brook (SUNY/SB) and several Iraq universities to build capacity for teaching and research in environmental health. . . . Workshop topics include training on equipment for soil, water, and lead testing; and the operation of air pollution monitoring equipment.

August 30th, 2005, 06:58 AM
Humanitarian aid.

The U.N. World Food Program (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/KHII-6FA2R3?OpenDocument&rc=3&cc=irq) is helping Iraq's most vulnerable and needy:

Support to Vulnerable groups--A total of 21,576 [metric tons] of commodities (7,781 mt High Energy biscuits, 5,791 mt wheat flour, 3,166 mt vegetable oil and 4,838 mt pea/wheat blend) have so far been dispatched into Iraq under WFP's current emergency operation 10360.0.

Distributions so far amount to about 14,946 mt of the total dispatched commodities benefiting 1,324,740 beneficiaries. The present security situation continues to affect the overland transport of food into Iraq.

Food for education--Preparations are underway to preposition the High Energy Biscuits and vegetable oil for the children when the schools re-open in September after the end of the summer holidays.

During the last school year about 8,886 mt (7,781mt of HEB and 1,105 mt of veg. oil) have been delivered into various schools in Iraq with approximately 5,201mt of High Energy Biscuits and 806 mt of vegetable oil distributed under school feeding activities benefiting 806,558 school children. . . . Vulnerable Group Feeding--A total of 12,690 mt of various commodities including Wheat Flour, Vegetable Oil and Pea-Wheat blended food have been delivered into Iraq with 8,939 mt having been distributed to 518,182 beneficiaries.

A charity is helping Iraq's disabled (http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/08-16-2005/0004089597&EDATE=):

Free Wheelchair Mission recently shipped a container of 550 wheelchairs to the port of Shuwaikh, Kuwait in a momentous humanitarian mission to aid Iraq's disabled and poor. United States Military Major Glenn Rubalcava, Public Health Officer stationed in Kuwait City, coordinated the compassionate effort through the Humanitarian Operations Center (HOC) located in Kuwait.

Both the Iraqi and Kuwaiti governments waived import fees for all the humanitarian aid that involved the HOC. The wheelchairs were convoyed from Kuwaiti to Iraqi military bases and then were picked up from the military bases by civilian contractors. The civilian contractor transportation companies then delivered the wheelchairs from the military bases to their final destinations throughout five geographical locations in Iraq. Wheelchairs were distributed to camps, hospitals, clinics, and orphanages throughout the country. 200 wheelchairs were distributed to the British and Polish sector (southern Iraq), which includes An-Najaf, Ad-Diwaniyah, An-Nasirayah and Al-Basrah. 300 wheelchairs went to the Iraqi Assistance Center (IAC) in Baghdad. They will distribute to Civil Affair units in Fallujah, Ramadi, Baghdad, and Samarra.

Iraqi authorities will be constructing three major housing complexes (http://www.azzaman.com/english/index.asp?fname=news2005-08-1710488.htm) for Iraqi refugees who chose to return home.

The good work of one Colorado business (http://www.denverpost.com/portlet/article/html/fragments/print_article.jsp?article=2934411) continues to bring cheer to Iraqi schoolchildren:

A small girl, not much older than 6 or 7, struggled with a math lesson at her school northeast of Baghdad, Iraq.

The subject was not the reason for the girl's frustration; she was equipped with only a broken pencil and a few pieces of paper.

A U.S. soldier visiting the school in the Diyala province of eastern Iraq saw the students' dilemma and decided to do something about it.

"I was very sad for her because she reminded me of my daughter, and I wanted to do as much as I could to help these children," said Army Spec. Steven Wilkerson.

The young soldier, a member of the Army's "Battle Boar" 1st Battalion, Googled for help.

EZ School Supplies, based in the Denver West Office Park in Golden, popped up on the Internet search engine. In May, Wilkerson e-mailed the company to see if it would donate some school supplies.

"The local schools do not have funds to purchase supplies, as they are very impoverished," Wilkerson wrote for his commander, Lt. Col. Roger Cloutier. Officials of EZ School Supplies, a company formed just two years ago by a 2000 graduate of Golden High School, were excited by the request.

The rest in history:

EZ partners with the Learning Legacy Foundation, which specializes in providing supplies to underprivileged students.

Tapping into that connection, EZ sent 35 packs of pencils, paper, erasers and folders to the 1st Battalion's 30th Infantry, which is serving a 12- to 14-month tour in Iraq. Students who received the first shipment got "very excited and are extremely happy," wrote Wilkerson, who responded by sending photos of smiling schoolchildren.

Other actions ( com/articles/2005/08/19/news/news04.txt&hl=en) to help Iraqi children are also bearing fruit:

A request for assistance for children in Iraq sent home from a 36th Division soldier has generated overwhelming response, according to a member of his family.

"The response has been almost overwhelming," Charles Snow, the grandfather of SPC Adam Gregory, said Thursday. "We are extremely grateful for all the donations."

Gregory's letter was quoted in a Brownwood Bulletin story published Aug. 6.

A deadline of Friday, Aug. 26 has been set for the donations so they can be boxed for shipment to Iraq.

Gregory has been stationed in Iraq since January, and he said he has a special feeling for the children. Snow said some donations of adult shoes have been received, but children's items are especially sought. Even used shoes are acceptable, if they are clean. Cash donations will be used to pay postage for shipping.

A joint Iraqi-American effort is also (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Aug2005/20050820_2493.html) helping children: Children in a village of Tamim province received school supplies, clothing and toys from the Nahrain Foundation, a nongovernmental organization that focuses on providing proper nutrition, decent clothing and medical supplies to Iraqi women and children. The foundation received its supplies as part of a joint effort between American donations and a coalition forces-run program known as "Operation Provide School Supplies," which accepts donations from private citizens and corporations in the United States.

And Mennonite Central Committee is helping Iraqi schoolchildren (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/RMOI-6FH3NN?OpenDocument&rc=3&cc=irq): MCC is shipping 4,200 relief kits and 24,000 school kits to Iraq, which continues to be troubled by violence and instability. The relief kits will be distributed to Iraqis who have been displaced to camps by urban warfare, and the school kits will be distributed to children in low-income neighborhoods of Baghdad. The total value of the shipments is $442,000 Cdn./$360,000 U.S.

Meanwhile, Louisiana (http://2theadvocate.com/stories/082005/opi_edi002.shtml) shows that it has a heart:

In bringing a young Iraqi to this country for a critically needed operation, Tulane University's medical center and Louisianians serving in Iraq are showing that this country has a big heart.

An 8-year-old Iraqi boy will undergo surgery at Tulane to repair a hole in his heart.

Operation Mend a Heart was inspired by one of our own, Lt. Col. Mark Matthews of Denham Springs, who recently returned from a nine-month tour of duty in Iraq.

Earlier this year, Matthews, while stationed at U.S. Central Command in Qatar, helped arrange for a 5-year-old Iraqi girl and her father to be transported to this country so she could undergo heart surgery at Maine Medical Center in Portland. The surgery was completed successfully in February.

Matthews' wife, Toni, a surgical nurse, nicknamed that effort "Operation Have a Heart to Save a Heart." It's now evolved into a joint project of the U.S. military, Tulane Hospital and Clinic and Tulane Health Sciences Center. "It is a project of the heart," Mark Matthews said.

The Chicago Rotarians (http://www.suntimes.com/output/news/cst-nws-heart23.html) are also helping:

Ali Ayad is only 9, yet he wears a colostomy bag and has a heart filled with holes. He lives in Baghdad in a single room of a small house shared by 16 other people. He arrived Monday at O'Hare Airport after 25 hours of travel. Yet, many could learn something from Ali, who refused a wheelchair as he walked onto American soil for an operation that could change his life. . . .

Ali and Masuma Hmod, 11 months old, both from Iraq, are in Chicago for surgeries to correct a congenital heart defect known as tetralogy of Fallot. . . .

Ali and Masuma are being sponsored by the Rotary Club's Gift of Life program. It helps bring children from developing countries to modern health-care facilities, said Dr. George Harris, a local Rotary official and a pediatrician at Advocate Hope Children's Hospital in Oak Lawn, where the two youngsters' surgeries are to be performed.

The Iraqi-American Association of Illinois was a primary donor for the children's trip. Other donors include Rotary Clubs in Hinsdale and Orland Park and 10 Roman-Catholic churches. Rotarians donated nearly 500,000 frequent-flier miles to buy tickets for the children and their companions: Ali's aunt, Nadia Murzoq; Masuma's mother and two Iraqi physicians who are accompanying them, Abdul Raheem Daoud and Mohammad Jassim Hassan Ali Nassir.

There will be more help for Iraqi patients (http://www.almendhar.com/english_5530/news.aspx), thanks to this initiative:

Next month, an international medical team consisting of 60 specialists in cardiac surgery and the technology of operations' equipments would arrive in Iraq for erecting a field station to conduct such surgeries for several Iraqi citizens who are suffering from heart diseases and the current events are hindering executing such operations. Sheikh Ali Al Ka'bi, director of the Emirati Red Cross in Iraq, said in a statement that the team would include global surgeons from all over the world and specialists in equipments and anesthesia. The field hospital would be established to execute heart operations in Ibn Al Bitar Hospital in Al Karkh region in Baghdad.

• Coalition troops. They're active on the ground in Diyala province (http://www.blackanthem.com/TheAllies/2005082404.html):

Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry, Task Force Liberty are working with the people of the Diyala Province to build schools, improve the water supply, pave roads and rebuild their local government.

Coalition Soldiers are providing Iraqis with money to improve their way of life and, in order to ensure projects in the Diyala Province are progressing on schedule, Soldiers conduct routine checks of these sites.

The work the Soldiers are doing is helping to rebuild the city services, said 1st Lt. Jeremy Krueger, civil-military operations officer for Task Force 1-30, and native of Pensacola, Fla.

"I think the projects in our [area of operations] are important," said Krueger. "What we are doing is improving the infrastructure for this whole area that has been torn down over the last several years. It's helping the population immensely. It is providing new schools for them, new roads, new water projects, water supplies that they have never had and also some of the projects are businesses that are going to provide some revenue for the area."

The unit is still working on developing more projects in order to better the area, said Sgt. Maj. Matthew J. West, civil-military operations sergeant major for Task Force 1-30 and a native of Dallas, Texas. We have 83 projects that have been submitted or are currently underway, West said.

According to Army Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, reconstruction of Fallujah (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Aug2005/20050818_2478.html) is going well:

Reconstruction is seeing some "amazing" progress, Lynch pointed out.

"Last November, there were significant military operations in (Fallujah)," he said. "By this November we will have completed 438 projects totaling $71.3 million and will continue the progress with an additional 19 projects worth over $65 million after the elections." The people of Fallujah, he said, have reliable access to electricity and water, and can send their children to one of the 49 schools now open. Fallujans also will soon have their own TV and radio station.

The troops continue to work on important water infrastructure (http://www.estripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=30910) projects:

In Iraq, where even water that comes from the tap could be contaminated with chemicals or sewage seeping into the ground, clean water is the most basic need of people throughout the country.

While there is an adequate supply of bottled water, water for cooking, cleaning and bathing is a precious commodity. In many cases, wells have not been dug deep enough to go below the contaminated ground water. Under the $18 billion Iraq Reconstruction Program, 184 public works and water projects are planned, including 158 water treatment facilities, two sewage treatment plants and 11 water resource projects. The Corps of Engineers and Project Contracting Office program contracts the work out to local laborers, with the Corps of Engineers Gulf Region District overseeing the construction.

Read about some of the projects currently on the way, for example:

A massive $125 million water treatment plant in Ifraz will pump treated water about 20 miles southeast to the more than 900,000 residents of the city of Irbil.

In other recent water-related (http://www.blackanthem.com/News/2005081207.html) projects financed and overseen by the military:

Officials from [Iraq and the U.S.] also signed a charter to detail plans to bring much-needed projects to the people of Husseiniya, an agricultural town north of Baghdad whose population boomed during the previous regime. Coalition Forces are working with the Ministry of Municipalities and Public Works to build storm drainage projects, water-quality improvements, and most importantly, sewage treatment facilities. The Husseiniya Charter is the first of its kind in the area, and will serve as the test-bed and guide for other projects in impoverished areas in and around Baghdad. . . . Iraqi workers in Baghdad finished the $3.6M Al Amari Water Distribution project this week. The project can produce approximately 250 cubic meters of potable water daily and service about 2,000 families in the Al Amari and 9-Nissan areas of Baghdad.

The troops are also building roads (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/Najaf+road+projects+improve+transportation__111142 9.html?PHPSESSID=414b8e1648d38e3f8d3e113b0edb7ed1) :

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Gulf Region South District (GRS) has been working on modern asphalt roads in Najaf to facilitate agriculture sales and to provide better routes to village schools and hospitals.

"GRS is currently managing the construction of two village road projects in the Najaf Province," said Art Bennett, GRS Transportation and Communication Sector project manager. "The roads serve small villages and local industries--in this case, cement and gypsum plants. The second project, or segment, parallels the Euphrates River."

Bennett said that segment one--the Alhaydariya village road--is about 15 kilometers long and costs $1.2 million. The contract was modified and extended to move power poles away from the shoulder of the road, and to create that shoulder. The modifications also included the shoring up of water pipelines that were unsupported off the side of the road. The additional money is $18,000. He added that the project is 40 percent complete. Total cost of the project with the modifications is $1.3 million.

Segment two, the Al-Cement factory village road, is about seven kilometers long at $337,697. Also modified because of power pole and water pipe issues, the additional allocated money is about $12,000. It is about 38 percent complete. Total cost of the project is about $348,000. "The intent of these projects is to provide paved roads for everyday use by the local population," said Bennett.

Work on water infrastructure (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/Rehabilitation+of+potable+water+systems+assists+Ir aqi+employment%2C+training__1111451.html?PHPSESSID =4e7d126b3c1a806748e00b664d068384) also continues:

Three governorates will be receive upgrades in treated potable water, according to an announcement August 18 by a team of Iraqi and U.S. government entities.

From the $18.4 billion allocated for the total Iraq Reconstruction Program, about $3 million is budgeted for bringing treated potable water to approximately 25,000 Iraqi citizens in the Dahuk, Babylon and Wassit Governorates. The projects will upgrade 15 systems, each including water wells, compact potable water treatment plants and pumps.

The contracts were competed and awarded to local Iraqi contractors, with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) providing quality assurance oversight. Each of the 15 sites will employ approximately 20 Iraqi laborers on a daily basis. The work will also train local operators on site in the technology and maintenance of the water systems. Completion dates for the 15 projects vary, but all are scheduled to be finished by January 2006.

Army surveyors (http://www.defendamerica.mil/articles/aug2005/a081505la1.html) are also laying groundwork for future reconstruction and infrastructure expansion:

The weight of their body armor combined with the strain of having to lift a jackhammer over their heads makes their arms quiver like jello. Sweat pours down their faces and burns their eyes, but they won't stop now. They can't.

One after another, they connect four-foot stainless steel rods together and drive them further below the surface of the earth. Thirteen rods and 52 feet later, the rods refuse to be driven any further.

The engineers assigned to Multinational Corps-Iraq then cover the exposed tip of the rod with a custom access cover and insert a fluorescent orange sign to indicate the location is ready to be surveyed.

The team of U.S. and British Army geodetic surveyors has successfully established another reference point along the road to reconstruction in Iraq, one of many in the first Iraqi Geospatial Reference System that identifies geospatial locations using names or numeric coordinates.

Coalition and Iraqi engineers use the data collected by Iraqi Geospatial Reference System to create accurate maps of Iraq and safely rebuild the country's roads, bridges and pipelines.

"Establishing a geospatial reference system is the first and most crucial step to reconstructing Iraq," said U.S. Army Sgt. Motaz Mostafa, noncommissioned officer-in-charge of one of six Multinational Corps-Iraq geodetic survey teams and assigned to the 175th Engineer Company, 20th Engineer Brigade, Fort Bragg, N.C.

The joint coalition team began working on the project in April, which is modeled on the National Spatial Reference System in the United States. Geospatial reference systems have already proven to be quite effective in helping the United States and several other countries in Central and South America, Africa and Eastern Europe recover from natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes. War-torn countries like Iraq require the same geospatial reconstruction, said U.S. Army 1st Lt. Kenneth Joyce, Iraqi Geospatial Reference System project leader assigned to the175th Engineer Company.

The troops are working on Iraqi hospitals (http://www.centcom.mil/CENTCOMNews/News_Release.asp?NewsRelease=20050817.txt):

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Gulf Region South District estimates a Dec. 25 completion of a refurbishment and renovation project for the Najaf Maternity Hospital.

Engineers report the $8.2 million project is 30 percent finished.

The project began Oct. 25, 2004.

Renovations include a new sewage system, a new boiler for heating, ceramic tiles throughout all of the renovated portions of the facility and a new residents' office. A reverse osmosis water treatment plant for the hospital is finished and is ready to be turned over to the hospital. An incineration system is also in the works.

Similar renovations continue at Najaf teaching hospital two kilometers away from the maternity hospital. The 266-bed hospital continues patient care even while renovations continue.

More about the Maternity Hospital project here (http://www.centcom.mil/CENTCOMNews/Stories/08_05/20.htm). And here's an update on the Teaching Hospital (http://www.centcom.mil/CENTCOMNews/Stories/08_05/21.htm):

From a bloody battlefield and one of the most dangerous places in Iraq to a safe, prosperous and growing community of over one-half million, the Najaf Teaching Hospital reflects the changes of the city of Najaf.

One year ago on August 27 the battle for Najaf ended.

A year ago the Najaf Teaching Hospital was closed. It had been looted and its medical equipment destroyed by the Sadr Militia who had used its eight floors as a military fortress. Its basement flooded, windows and walls riddled with bullet and mortar damage, to many in Najaf, the hospital looked hopeless.

Now the hospital is open, seeing hundreds of patients per day and housing 80 in-patients. It is a training hospital for 200 medical students, 50 pharmacy students, and 100 resident doctors who are looking forward to improved and expanded services.

This is a true success story brought about by a close partnership of Iraqi doctors and a U.S. team of doctors, engineers, project managers, contractors, and Soldiers and U.S Army Corps of Engineers civilians. When finished, the hospital will house a new magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner, have computed tomography (CT) scan services, and have increased specialty surgical services including its first open heart surgical team. The hospital will employ 1,250 people, in an area where good jobs are hard to come by.

The troops continue to fill in the gaps (http://www.defendamerica.mil/articles/aug2005/a081205la2.html) in medical care by conducting visits to locations with limited access to health care:

U.S. soldiers from the 116th Brigade Combat Team's Task Force 1-163 Infantry delivered much-needed medical care to the village of Husseinia, Iraq, Aug. 1.

The medical assistance visit was done at the remote village because of the lack of availability of medical care. Many smaller villages in the western portion of Kirkuk Province are far from hospitals and medical clinics.

"The visit was intended to be a mini-(medical assistance visit) but it turned out to be a full-blown (medical assistance visit)," said U.S. Army Capt. Jeff Westfall, the Task Force 1-163 Infantry officer. "We were expecting maybe 30 patients, but we ended up with over 100." According to Task Force 1-163 Infantry, some villagers may not see health care professionals for years at a time, making it tough on the community and particularly the young. The task force also credits the success of the visit to the improved security provided by an ever-growing number of Iraqi security forces in the area.

Here's a similar operation in Mosul (http://www.blackanthem.com/News/2005081207.html):

More than 200 Iraqi children received medical screenings from Coalition Forces, with support from Iraqi Police, during an operation Aug. 5 in western Mosul. Soldiers and medics handed out soccer balls and hygiene products to the local children while they conducted the screenings. More than 1,000 children have received medical screenings during this and four similar operations over the last three weeks.

The troops continue to support the reconstruction of the education system (http://www.blackanthem.com/News/2005081207.html): Approximately 18,000 Iraqi schoolchildren will sit in freshly refurbished schools when their new school year starts in about six weeks. Iraqi and U.S. government agencies announced Aug. 6 that renovations of 43 schools in the northern and southern provinces are funded for repairs, and contracts have been awarded for the work. As part of the Iraq Relief Reconstruction Fund, over $1.3M was set aside to continue a nationwide school repair program that addresses rehabilitating sanitary facilities, electrical and mechanical systems, and structural repairs to schools in Karbala, Dahuk, Najaf, Basrah, and Qadisiyah.

The 155th Brigade Combat Team, meanwhile, is doing a lot of community outreach (http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/aplocal_story.asp?category=6420&slug=155th%20Humanitarian), in addition to its important security work:

The 155th is attached to the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force and operates in the Karbala, Najaf and Babil provinces of Iraq. Blanton said each unit in the brigade has adopted at least one school in its area of operations and the soldiers distribute school supplies, furniture, medicine and other goods.

The unit's commander, Brig. Gen. Augustus Leon Collins, hopes a pen pal program the unit plans to facilitate for American and Iraqi children will offer a bridge between two diverse cultures.

"I believe it is critical that we expand the horizons of not only Iraqi youth, but American youth as well," he said this past week in an e-mail to The AP. "If we are able to establish a campaign where our children are introduced to theirs, then we will remove the stigmas and bias and possibly develop a bond that will be much stronger than any military or diplomatic action."

In the Karbala Province, members of the 2nd Battalion, 114th Field Artillery of the Mississippi National Guard, which is attached to the 155th, identified a substandard facility that housed orphaned girls.

Lt. Col. Gary E. Huffman said the soldiers teamed with Iraqi security forces to rebuild the orphanage and delivered 50 beds and mattresses, bed linens, clothes and toys.

"The work is continuous and through cooperation, mutual understanding, and robust work efforts Karbala will grow and achieve the success that the citizens and leadership seek," Huffman said. Collins said projects to rebuild schools and orphanages are imperative because "the future of this nation lies in its youth. What direction this country takes will be determined by them."

It's not just the American troops. Australians (http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/iraqis-close-to-taking-on-security-role/2005/08/12/1123353501562.html?oneclick=true) have been making a positive contribution in the south of the country:

Local forces being trained by Australian troops in southern Iraq were close to taking over responsibility for security in the area, the new head of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, said. . . .

Air Chief Marshal Houston told the Herald Australian troops training Iraqi security forces in the province of Al Muthanna had been very successful and the Iraqis would be ready to take over responsibility for security for the entire province "in the not too distant future."

He also praised another group of 50 Australian soldiers who had trained 750 Iraqi logisticians.

The Australian soldiers in Iraq had an impressive ability to work with the Iraqis because they were "classically Australian," Air Chief Marshal Houston said.

"It's really a very successful model for how successful you can be in training the Iraqis. "Our ability to engage them man to man--it was very much a male-dominated environment I have to say. . . . It was classically Australian; we weren't carrying any baggage and we had established a very good relationship with them."

Italian (http://www.adnki.com/index_2Level.php?cat=Politics&loid=8.0.197965564&par=0) soldiers, meanwhile, are protecting Iraq's historical heritage:

Italian troops stationed in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriya, will provide 125,000 dollars for the restoration of the local museum which has been looted and vandalised since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime. "Work will be carried out by an Iraqi company under the surpervision [sic] of the Italian military," the museum's director, Abd al-Amir al-Hamdani, told Adnkronos International (AKI).

"Restoration will include the building's first floor, with seven separate exhibition halls, including prehistoric, Sumero-Babylonian, Assyric and Islamic sections, as well as exhibition space on the second floor and the museum's library and the administration offices," al-Hamdani explained. Italian police are holding a training course in Nasiriya for Iraqi guards who will be in charge of safeguarding their country's museums and archaelogical [sic] sites.

Here's more (http://www.adnki.com/index_2Level.php?cat=Politics&loid=8.0.198410754&par=0) on the Italian assistance:

The Italian contingent of Iraqi multinational forces, based in Dhi Qar region of Nasiriya in southern Iraq will supervise the construction of 60 desalinisation plants for the rural population. The project, financed by donor countries, is needed because of the increase in drinking water salt levels, explained Ali al-Dajili, an engineer coordinating the project between the Italian forces and the provincial council. Works will start in a month, he specified. . . . The desalinisation plants, designed by Italian army's engineers, will be built in specific areas along the Euphrates river which will be determined by the provincial council.

August 30th, 2005, 06:59 AM

A new opinion poll (http://i-newswire.com/pr41779.html) has been conducted between July 12 and 17 in Baghdad, Basrah, Salah Ad-Din, Najaf, Diyala and Irbil, with more than 1,200 Iraqis participating:

An overwhelming number of Iraqis say there is no justification for attacks on Iraqi civilians, Iraqi security forces or Iraqi public service infrastructure. A total of 94 percent of Iraqis say there is no excuse for attacks on Iraqi security forces, 97 percent say there is no justification for attacking civilians, and 97 percent are against attacks on infrastructure. The percentages slip when it comes to disapproval of violence against Iraqis working with the coalition and attacks against coalition personnel. A total of 81 percent of those polled are against attacks against Iraqis working with the coalition, with 12 percent saying there is justification for the attacks and 7 percent with no opinion.

One negative of the poll: "Half of those polled said there was no excuse for attacks against coalition personnel, while 40 percent said there is a justification and 10 percent saying they don't know":

Iraqis are proud of their security forces--a sea change from the way most regarded the forces under Saddam Hussein. The poll shows 75 percent of Iraqis say their security forces are winning the fight against anti-government forces. Iraqis regard the security forces as representing the nation and not just one group (77 percent), and 73 percent of those polled believe the Iraqi police and military work within the law and respect the rights of the people.

Almost 80 percent of those surveyed said the sooner that Iraqi forces maintain security, the sooner coalition forces can leave.

The poll showed some Iraqi misperceptions, officials said. A total of 64 percent of those surveyed said anti-government forces come mostly from other countries. Coalition officials said most anti-government terrorists are Iraqis. Finally, 62 percent of the Iraqis surveyed said the security situation in Iraq has gotten "much better" ( 16 percent ) or "somewhat better" ( 46 percent ) in the past three months. Twenty percent of those surveyed said the security situation was "somewhat worse" and 14 percent said the security situation was "much worse" than three months ago.

Iraqi authorities are at the moment holding 281 foreign nationals (http://www.almendhar.com/english_5561/news.aspx) in connection with terrorist activities:

In a press conference, [Leith Kabba, spokesman for the Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Al Ja'fari] said, "Until now, the number of foreign detainees involved in charges that are related, in a way or another to terrorism, is 281." Kabba pointed out, "They are from Egypt (80), Syria (64), Sudan (41), Saudi Arabia (22), Jordan (17), Libya (7), Palestine (10), Algeria (7), Tunisia (6), Turkey (4), Iran (12), Qatar (2), and Britain (1), in addition to other countries." He added, "Most of the reporting about those came on behalf of citizens."

Baghdad's Sadr City (http://www4.army.mil/ocpa/read.php?story_id_key=7730) is now safer and better:

Patrols by U.S. and Iraqi Army Soldiers have resulted in safer streets for the citizens of Sadr City.

The once hotly-contested area is now patrolled by troops from B Company, 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.

On July 28 the Soldiers performed a neighborhood patrol designed to allow the Soldiers to become acquainted with their new neighborhood.

"It's a lot of work, getting to know a new sector--we gather intel on terrorist operations, assess how receptive the locals are to our presence and develop informants," said 1st Lt. Jason Schwab, platoon leader. "We try and impress upon them that it's in their best interests to help us, because the people who kidnap and extort them are the same ones planting bombs in the roads."

During the patrol, Schwab stopped at the Al-Kanasa Police Station and spoke with a warrant officer about the neighborhood.

"The people we talk to in the neighborhood have been pretty helpful and want things to get better in Sadr," said Sgt. Lee Minyard. "They're starting to realize we're here to help them."

Minyard pulled security throughout the patrol, which took the dismounted infantrymen through the streets and alleys of Sadr. "We tell people that it's up to them to make a difference in their communities," said Staff Sgt. Christopher Brisley, section leader. "They're so used to relying on one leader to make all the decisions, but they're gradually taking the initiative."

And so is the once infamous Haifa Street (http://www.kentucky.com/mld/heraldleader/news/world/12379517.htm), thanks to the Iraqi security forces now in control of the area:

Soldiers called it the "Street of Death" and "Purple Heart Boulevard," a 3-mile-long residential corridor in central Baghdad that had become a shooting gallery for insurgents. In 2004 alone, Haifa Street, once a coveted address for the middle class, was the bloody site of more than 400 attacks on American and Iraqi security forces. Many residents on the most troubled blocks fled their homes, some of which were promptly commandeered as rebel sniper roosts.

An American-Iraqi military campaign begun last year to retake the street seemed to bear fruit as insurgents were captured, killed or driven out of the area. And on Feb. 6 the American command handed over a cut of north-central Baghdad, including Haifa Street, to the 1st Brigade, 6th Division, of the Iraqi army. This transfer made the 1st Brigade the first and only Iraqi army unit to have control of its own battle space and put it on the leading edge of the Bush administration's plan to have Iraqi forces take responsibility for the country's security. The good news for American officials, in a war where territorial gains have been elusive, is that the Iraqi troops have not lost ground on Haifa Street. Since the 1st Brigade took control, there have been only three terrorist attacks along the street, and those came in the first three weeks, commanders say.

Italians, meanwhile, are finding that there has been a great improvement in security situation around Nasiriyah (http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/viewArticle.asp?articleID=1870):

The Italians have overseen about $50 million worth of projects in Dhi Qar province, most of them related to water or medical services because the hospital is one of the most important in southern Iraq.

The lesson from Nasiriyah, [Lt. Col. Danico] Presta and [Capt. Fabio] Pacelli said, is that things can change for the better in Iraq, and can seem to do so all at once. The improvement happens when security is good enough that reconstruction can take root and the people can see improvement in their life. That begets more cooperation, and more willingness to turn in spoilers and therefore even more security. It's a formula that is being attempted all across Iraq with varying levels of success.

Iraq's reconstruction is not progressing on a linear path. It is a delicate balance that once achieved and allowed to mature, can yield results. The trick is lining up all the components. One of the unique components in Dhi Qar was the establishment two months ago of a 17-member reconstruction committee separate from the political leaders in the province. The committee comprises university professors, health care professionals, sheiks and engineers. No improvement project is undertaken without the permission of the council, which sets the priorities. Presta believes that sense of local control is a key to success.

Generally in the south of the country (http://nyjtimes.com/cover/08-17-05/OptimismForSouthEastIraq.htm):

The British Royal Marine in charge of coalition operations in southeastern Iraq is optimistic about ongoing efforts there to train Iraqi army and police forces to eventually assume security duties.

"We have been able to force ahead with the main effort, which is security sector reform," Maj. Gen. Jim Dutton, commander of Multinational Division Southeast, told Pentagon reporters via a video link from Basra.

Dutton's 13,000-plus-troop multinational command is made up of 7,900 British troops, 3,000 Italians, 640 Australians, 622 Romanians, 562 Japanese, 388 Danes, 97 Czechs, 33 Lithuanians, five Norwegians, and two Portuguese.

Those troops, along with Iraqi army and police forces, are charged with providing security for four southeastern Iraqi provinces, which make up an area half the size of Great Britain. Dutton's area of operations contains the cities of Nasiriyah, Basrah, and Umm Qasr, Iraq's only deep-water port. . . .

The general said he remains "confident that southeastern Iraq will continue to develop."

"There is a real enthusiasm here for the democratic process, and there was a very high turnout" for the January 2005 election, he said.

Dutton said there is "no shortage of volunteers" who want to join the new Iraqi army, noting there are now about 5,500 Iraqi soldiers in his sector. That number is expected to increase to 9,000 soldiers next year, he said. The new Iraqi police are receiving good training at academies in Jordan or Baghdad, Dutton said. There are about 25,000 police in southeastern Iraq, he said, more than 14,000 of whom have received training.

And security is also improving in the northwestern Ninweh (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Aug2005/20050819_2484.html) province:

Progress is evident in that more than 60 election registrations sites have opened on time. That has been possible through the combined efforts and partnership of the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq, provincial governments and Iraqi security forces, [Army Maj. Gen. David Rodriguez, commander of Multinational Force Northwest and Task Force Freedom] said.

Gains also are being made despite the insurgents' ongoing attempts to accomplish their objective of "destroying the Iraqi nation and the people," he said. Since the election held in January, for example, 62 mid- to high-level terrorist leaders have been captured or killed in Nineveh province alone, including 44 since early May. . . . Insurgents' attempts to use improvised explosive devices to their advantage also have been reduced, Rodriguez said. Over the last three months the number and effectiveness of insurgent IEDs is down by about 20 percent, he noted. The general attributes this to Iraqi and coalition forces' better operations conduct, disruption of insurgent senior leadership, less complex IED devices and more local tips. The seizing of several large caches of bomb-making materials also has contributed to that decrease.

Najaf province, meanwhile, is reporting a 90% decline (http://www.almendhar.com/english_5509/news.aspx) in crime over the July and August period.

The "Iraqification" of security will be the key to the future of the country--and to the reduction of the coalition presence. To that end, training of Iraqi army and police continues. Army Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, commander of Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq, recently spoke about the successes and challenges (http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/08/13/iraq.petraeus/) of training Iraqi troops:

"I believe that Iraqis will save Iraq," he told CNN in an interview and said the United States has helped Iraqis help themselves.

"I think that over the course of the past 15 months or so there has been enormous progress in doing just that," he said.

He said Iraqis and the Americans need to work together.

"There's a great deal still to be done," he said, "and it is a long-term endeavor that will require persistence, patience and resilience because the enemy is going to do everything that he can over the next several months to derail the constitutional process and then derail the elections in mid-December."

Petraeus has said more than 110 Iraqi police and army combat battalions are "in the fight"--a total of 178,000 trained and equipped forces--a vast increase since a U.S.-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein.

Pentagon officials, quoted in an August news article on the Defense Department Web site, said "this time last year, only one battalion was trained and equipped well enough to assist coalition forces." While $2 billion has been invested in bolstering Iraqi security force infrastructure, more needs to be done, Petraeus said, such as establishing logistics and combat service capabilities and building an air force.

The first batch of Iraqi soldiers have finished their training in Britain (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4158318.stm):

The first Iraqi soldiers to be trained for the country's new security force by the British Army in the UK have taken part in a passing-out parade.

Thirty-five National Guardsmen spent the last three months at the Infantry Battle School in Brecon, mid Wales.

They have been trained in military planning and strategy in the hope that Iraqis will eventually take over the Allies' peacekeeping role.

The guardsmen will start to instruct other Iraqi recruits on their return. The course, based around British Army junior leadership training, took place in both Arabic and English and was said to be tailored for the demands of working in Iraq.

More courses are on the way. See also this profile (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/08/18/wirq18.xml&sSheet=/news/2005/08/18/ixworld.html):

Under Saddam Hussein's regime, Durgar Jassim was a member of the Republican Guard's 10th Armoured Division, which fought against the British south of Baghdad. Yesterday, two years later, he was on the parade ground with his former enemy as one of 35 junior officers and non-commissioned officers from the Iraqi army who had completed a training course at the Infantry Battle School in Brecon, central Wales.

Capt Jassim, 29, a soldier for 12 years, said that training with men he had once fought was not a problem. "We are not political persons; we are military professionals," he said through an interpreter. The newly-qualified instructors, who marched to Arabic commands at their passing-out parade, will return to Baghdad at the weekend to train the new generation of security forces.

And a young Iraqi officer, who for security reasons chose to remain anonymous as Officer Mohammed, received the Overseas Sword, the award for the outstanding foreign cadet (http://www.sciencedaily.com/upi/?feed=TopNews&article=UPI-1-20050813-13485900-bc-britain-iraqiofficer.xml) at Britain's Sandhurst military academy.

There is also training of trainers (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Aug2005/20050820_2493.html): In Taji, Iraqi soldiers completed a Strategic Infrastructure Battalion "train-the-trainer" course. The 90 graduates will go on to serve as instructors at an Iraqi Army training base. A class of future Iraqi army noncommissioned officers graduated from their primary leadership development course on Aug. 15 in Tikrit. Iraqi army unit training also included combat lifesaving, staff training, computer skills and weapons training.

In other training firsts: The 1st Iraqi Army Brigade implemented Iraq's first noncommissioned officers academy (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Aug2005/20050820_2493.html) this week. Iraqi soldiers from the most recent class were the last group to be instructed by the U.S. soldiers who had developed the training. During Saddam's regime, an NCO corps did not exist in the Iraqi army. The class will now be taught by NCOs from the 1st Iraqi Army Brigade, who assisted earlier courses.

Iraq's air force (http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/929318A7-F7A7-44F8-9A80-FCDBA65D8BD6.htm) is also rebuilding:

Now the site, 375 km [235 miles] southeast of Baghdad and once Saddam Hussein's centre of air operations against Iran during the 1980-1988 war--is home to Air Force Squadron 23 and its three C-130 Hercules transport planes.

The US-donated planes are the backbone of Iraq's new air force, which also includes a dozen light reconaissance [sic] planes and another dozen helicopters spread across the country. Officials are vague on numbers for security reasons. Currently, 109 Iraqi students--all air force veterans with years of experience--are learning how to maintain and fly the Hercules fleet. The youngest trainee is 30. Others appear twice that age.

In law-enforcement news (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/Iraqi+Police+graduate+204+from+advanced%2C+special ty+courses__1111452.html?PHPSESSID=4e7d126b3c1a806 748e00b664d068384), "the Iraqi Police Service graduated 239 police officers from advanced and specialty courses at the Adnan Training Facility August 18, according to the Civilian Police Assistance Training Team."

Fresh from training, more Iraqi security forces are taking on responsibilities around the country. One of the new Iraqi units has been making a difference (http://www.menewsline.com/stories/2005/august/08_14_2.html) in northwestern Iraq:

The U.S. military has achieved major success in developing and training an Iraq Army battalion.

U.S. officials said the success in the training and deployment of the 1st Battalion of the 1st Brigade was demonstrated in operations in the Mosul area. The reconstituted battalion, part of the 3rd Iraqi Army Division, has operated its own personnel, intelligence and logistics sections.

"This battalion is undoubtedly one of the best in Tall Afar," Capt. Greg Mitchell, a U.S. company commander, said. "It can maneuver on its own without American support. If it's going to take control of the city, they'll require more training and assistance, but they've made great progress." The success of the battalion was cited for the unraveling of the Al Qaida network led by Abu Mussib Al Zarqawi. Since May 2005, Iraqi forces such as the 1st Battalion have played a major role in capturing senior Al Qaida commanders in the Mosul area.

Iraq's coast guard (http://www.noticias.info/asp/aspComunicados.asp?nid=90563&src=0) is also slowly starting to make a difference:

The Iraqi Coast Guard had a busy and successful month of operations in July, according to their monthly operational reporting to the Ministry of Interior. According to the report, the Iraqi Coast Guard searched 183 barges and vessels in July, with 11 of these searches resulting in the discovery of illegal documentation. In addition, 60 tons of illegal fuel were confiscated along with AK-47 automatic rifles, ammunition and fuel pumps. Six people were detained during the operations.

By mid-August, 100% (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Aug2005/20050818_2478.html)of the coalition's brigade-level operations in Iraq were conducted jointly with Iraqi forces.

Another first (http://www.centcom.mil/CENTCOMNews/News_Release.asp?NewsRelease=20050822.txt) in the south: Coalition forces turned over Camp Zulu in As Suwayrah, Iraq, to the Iraqi Army Aug. 21. This is the first coalition forces camp within the Multi-National Division Central's South area of responsibility to be turned over to Iraq's 8th Division. The division's 3rd Battalion, 3rd Brigade will be permanently housed there.

American forces have also withdrawn from two bases (http://www.almendhar.com/english_5576/news.aspx) in Najaf area.

Security infrastructure continues to be created, like these facilities for the police (http://www.blackanthem.com/News/2005081207.html): Construction started on a Police Facilities project in the Samarra District of Salah Ad Din Province. This 250-officer station in the northeast part of Samarra, which is a $4.3M investment, will provide a presence in the city to help stabilize law and order. The contractor employs 25 Iraqi workers, and the project is scheduled for completion in November.

There is more (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Aug2005/20050820_2493.html): A patrol station in the Karkh district of Baghdad province was completed, as was a $390,300 border-post project on the Saudi Arabian border. A division headquarters building for the Iraqi Army in Salah Ad Din province was also completed this week. The $7 million project includes a single-story building with a concrete roof and interior office space to accommodate the unit. Additionally, a $2 million firing range in Taji was completed this week.

Read also about the work of the 94th Engineer Battalion (http://www.estripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=31079) which has been doing much work on upgrading security infrastructure around Mosul and in the western Iraq.

There is also smaller-scale assistance: The Coalition's Multi-National Division Central-South (MND CS) gave seven cars (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/New+cars+for+Iraqi+Police+in+Ad+Diwaniyah__1111454 .html?PHPSESSID=4e7d126b3c1a806748e00b664d068384) to Iraqi Police in the southern city of Ad Diwaniyah August 16. The MND CS Civil Military Cooperation (CIMIC) team made the transfer possible.

In stories of security cooperation from the locals:

"Local citizens in the city of Hit gave Iraqi soldiers the location of an IED (http://www.noticias.info/asp/aspComunicados.asp?nid=90563&src=0) that they said three anti-Iraq force operatives had planted earlier in the day [Aug. 9]."
"Iraqi soldiers were led to a weapons cache (http://www.noticias.info/asp/aspComunicados.asp?nid=90563&src=0) in Fallujah while on a dismounted security patrol Aug. 10. Soldiers with 3rd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 1st Iraqi Intervention Force, located followed instructions to the cache from a local Iraqi. The cache consisted of four rocket-propelled grenade launchers, three machine guns, 22 RPG rounds, one rocket, two rifle grenades, RPG fin assemblies, one bag of ammunition, one can of .303 ball/tracer mix, one can of armor piercing/tracer mix, one timing device and one battery. They detained three suspected insurgents."
Thanks to information from local residents, 10 suspects (http://www4.army.mil/ocpa/read.php?story_id_key=7739) were arrested and three weapons caches seized by Task Force Baghdad soldiers on Aug. 13.
On Aug. 14, three insurgents were arrested (http://i-newswire.com/pr42345.html) and weapons confiscated in the town of Hit by Iraqi soldiers with Second Battalion, First Brigade, First Iraqi Intervention Force, and U.S. Marines from Third Battalion, Third Marine Regiment, following a tip from a local citizen.
"Based on two separate tips (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Aug2005/20050820_2493.html) from Iraqis, coalition forces discovered weapons caches that contained rocket-propelled grenades and two launchers, 16 mortar rounds and a launcher, and five boxes of anti-aircraft ammunition hidden in northwest Baghdad. Another tip led coalition forces to a large cache of artillery shells in the early hours of Aug. 16. The shells apparently were intended for use as improvised explosive devices. The 25 to 30 individual rounds, located inside a building within Anbar province, were destroyed after security forces confirmed there was no one in the building. After a local Iraqi identified his neighbors as insurgents, Iraqi soldiers and coalition forces conducted a joint cordon-and-search operation in northwest Fallujah and detained two suspects."
"Coalition forces captured a known Al Qaeda-in-Iraq member (http://www.centcom.mil/CENTCOMNews/News_Release.asp?NewsRelease=20050823.txt), two suspected terrorists and destroyed a terrorist sanctuary, weapons and equipment near Al Asad Aug. 23. Acting on tips from local Iraqis, Coalition forces raided the hide-out and confirmed that the location was being used by the terrorist to facilitate weapons and vehicle borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) operations. After he was captured, the Al Qaeda-in-Iraq member provided information about related terrorist activity in the area. Based upon this information, Coalition forces captured two suspected terrorists. Coalition forces also captured and destroyed a VBIED and two weapons caches consisting of mortars, rockets and rocket propelled grenades."

In other recent security successes:

Several roadside bombs (http://www.noticias.info/asp/aspComunicados.asp?nid=90563&src=0) discovered and disarmed by Iraqi troops throughout the country on Aug. 9 and 10; in Balad, Baqubah, Raway and Tikrit; more details here (http://www.blackanthem.com/News/2005081207.html).
"Several suspected terrorists (http://www.noticias.info/asp/aspComunicados.asp?nid=90564&src=0) were detained and numerous weapons caches were seized in military operations west of Balad Aug. 10. . . . During raids of suspected terrorist safe houses in Salah Ad Din province, Task Force Liberty soldiers detained one individual and uncovered three rocket-propelled grenade launchers, nine RPG rounds, a mortar tripod, several rifles and two hand grenades. About 20 pounds of bulk explosives were also found at the site. In other action, after taking small-arms fire, task force soldiers returned fire, killing one insurgent and wounding another during a raid in Ad Duluiyah. The task force also detained six individuals and confiscated several rifles, a bulletproof vest, two RPGs, seven RPG rounds, multiple grenades and a 130 mm projectile."
"Iraqi and U.S. Soldiers squelched a terrorist attack (http://www4.army.mil/ocpa/read.php?story_id_key=7739) on a patrol base in southwest Baghdad Aug. 11 when terrorists fired five rocket-propelled grenade rounds at the base, along with 10 minutes of rifle fire. A patrol consisting of Iraqi and U.S. Soldiers set out in the direction of the attack and captured six of the attackers and a weapons cache of two RPGs and three rifles with ammunition hidden nearby."
Muhammad Salah Sultan, also known as Abu Zubair, an aide to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2005/08/80980d2f-fa03-4c33-bc2f-baae20150cfb.html), killed in Mosul on Aug. 12; more here (http://www.centcom.mil/CENTCOMNews/News_Release.asp?NewsRelease=20050818.txt).
"Task Force Baghdad soldiers . . . thwarted attacks (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Aug2005/20050815_2444.html) and captured suspects Aug. 12. Three separate combat operations in northern and southern Baghdad resulted in the capture of six terror suspects and the seizure of a car bomb before terrorists could use it."
In Abayachi and Fallujah, "Iraqi Army soldiers detained several (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Aug2005/20050814_2417.html) suspected insurgents and seized weapons during operations on Aug. 13."
Task Force Baghdad soldiers prevented three car bomb attacks (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Aug2005/20050815_2444.html) in a space of five hours in southern Baghdad on Aug. 13; they also captured 10 suspects and recovered two weapons caches.
"In northern Iraq, Task Force Freedom detained 21 terrorist suspects (http://www4.army.mil/ocpa/read.php?story_id_key=7739) in Mosul Aug. 13-14 in several separate operations by Multi-National Forces and Iraqi Security Forces."
On Aug. 14, Iraqi and American troops in Hit disarmed (http://i-newswire.com/pr42345.html) a roadside bomb, located an arms cache in Mosul, and found more weapons and arrested eight suspects in Baghdad.
"Five large improvised explosive devices (http://www4.army.mil/ocpa/read.php?story_id_key=7739) on major Baghdad highways were identified by Task Force Baghdad Soldiers Aug. 14 and then safely destroyed before they could hurt anyone."
In mid-August, "Iraqi Police Service officers in the New Baghdad district conducted a variety of operations, including raids (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Aug2005/20050820_2493.html) involving over 450 officers. Police confiscated 30 AK-47 rifles, two hand guns and a machine gun during the raids. They also arrested 30 suspected terrorists, three of whom were targeted in the raids."
On Aug. 16, "Thi Qar province police announced that they foiled a plan (http://www.iwpr.net/archive/ipm/ipm_305.html) to blow up the electricity station of Nasiriya in southern Iraq, which is the second biggest station in Iraq. The police found Katiosha rockets pointed at the station and they defused them seconds before they were to launch."
A weapons cache (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Aug2005/20050820_2493.html) was discovered by Iraqi troops under a vehicle in Rawah. "The cache contained two light machine guns and 3,000 rounds of ammunition, nine AK-47 rifles and 500 rounds of ammunition, a NATO machine gun and 200 rounds of ammunition, four concussion grenades, one fragmentary grenade without fuses, and various other ammunition."
"Iraqi soldiers and coalition Special Forces advisers killed three terrorists (http://www.lincolntribune.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=2284) in a combined raid on a kidnapping cell southeast of Fallujah on Aug. 19. . . . Soldiers found numerous weapons and bomb-making materials in the house."
"Task Force Liberty Soldiers stopped a pair of improvised explosive device attacks (http://www.blackanthem.com/News/2005082103.html) and detained four individuals in north-central Iraq Aug. 20. Soldiers in a combat logistics patrol near Balad Ruz observed two adults and a child digging a hole for an IED at about 6:15 p.m. The three individuals were detained and Soldiers seized the IED. The two adults were taken to a Coalition Forces base for questioning and the child was released to his family. The IED consisted of two 130mm artillery rounds and was destroyed. Later, a combat patrol near Tikrit caught two individuals digging near a previous IED blast hole at 7:30 p.m. and took the suspects in for questioning."
The arrest by the Kurdish authorities of 11 members of an Ansar al Islam terrorist cell (http://www.almendhar.com/english_5538/news.aspx) plotting the assassination of the Kurdish leader Mas'ud Al Barzani.
All in one day's work (http://newsblaze.com/story/20050822085326nnnn.nb/newsblaze/TOPSTORY/Top-Story.html) on Aug. 21: six suspects captured and weapons confiscated in Haditha, two roadside bombs and a weapons cache found in Hawija and Mugdadiyah, three other roadside bombs defused by Iraqi forces throughout the country, three weapons caches retrieved in Samarra, three suspects captured in Rawah and another nine in the north, eight captured in Khalidiyah together with bomb making equipment, and nine other suspects arrested throughout the country by Iraqi forces.
"Iraqi police were inspecting a truck hauling ice in the New Baghdad area when officers uncovered 20 rockets (http://www.lincolntribune.com/modules/news/print.php?storyid=2301) concealed beneath the ice. The rockets were intended for an attack against a government ministry. . . . In other developments, Iraqi police officers on patrol discovered 32 mortar rounds and 20 rockets in two separate incidents in Baghdad Aug. 21."
Perhaps one day the press will end its drumbeat of defeatism that so frustrates Maj. Leahy, so that he and his family and friends can open the newspaper and get a balanced picture from Iraq. Just remember where you heard it first.

August 30th, 2005, 08:27 AM
I'm not sure if p&r folks are reading these stories (I don't want to slam the forum with individual threads)...but some are freakin funny.

For example the new shows like Iraqi Idol coming out and thier version of "Cops" showing their officers in action. I think that show would get awesome ratings over here.

A guy from connecticut trying to revive the beekeeping industry in iraq...

The Colorado business helping out school children...thanks to a u.s. soldier googling for help...

Of course (for me) reading the stories of what coaltion troops are doing makes the day better.

August 30th, 2005, 08:51 AM
Great job Dj. It's truly amazing how many good things are going on all at the same time. There's money to be made in Iraq and free enterprise is responding accordingly.

How refreshing it is to read something positive instead of all the doom and gloom we are constantly fed by our media. Hopefully, GW's vision of a democratic society in Iraq that will spread to the rest of the middle-east will someday become a reality.

September 21st, 2005, 09:04 PM
The latest...

Taking My Leave
A roundup of the past two weeks' good news from Iraq.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005 12:01 a.m. EDT

It has been almost a year and a half since I first started compiling the often under-reported and overlooked stories of positive developments in Iraq and, later, Afghanistan. Now I must say goodbye.

I have no doubt that good news will continue to come out of the Middle East and Central Asia, but a change in my work circumstances unfortunately prevents me from chronicling it in the future. The trend has been set, however, and I'm sure others will rise to the task of filling the news void and redressing the media's negativity.

Big thanks go to James Taranto, editor of this Web site, who alone in the mainstream media had the courage, imagination and foresight to provide a regular forum for the good news. Big thanks also to all the readers for your support and encouragement.

I do not know how Iraq and Afghanistan will look in five or 10 years, but I hope for the best. If, despite the horrendous problems and the enormous challenges, both countries manage to make it through and join the international family of normal, decent and peaceful nations, it will be all due to the amazing spirit and commitment of the majority of their people, and to the crucial help of the coalition members, their soldiers and their citizens. If that does indeed happen, many will wonder just exactly how these two countries, seemingly only in the news when the blood flows, have ever managed to get there. But you, having read these roundups, will not be surprised. So here's another two weeks' worth of stories from Iraq that the great majority of news consumers won't hear.

September 21st, 2005, 09:05 PM
A new opinion poll (http://aawsat.com/english/news.asp?section=1&id=1466) from Iraq paints a picture of the population that is politically aware, eager to make democratic choices, and optimistic about the future:

A public opinion poll conducted by the Iraqi Center for Development and International Dialogue concerning the constitutional process and the next elections showed that 88 percent of polled Iraqis intended to participate in the referendum on the proposed permanent constitution. The poll also showed that 6 percent of them have not decided whether to participate in the referendum or not and 5 percent did not wish to participate. While 30 percent of the sampled Iraqi citizens supported the establishment of a federal system, 84 percent expressed their support for women's rights. . . .

The poll surveyed the opinions of 3,667 people, aged 18 years and older. They represented 3,708 families in the Governorates of Al-Sulaymaniyah, Ninawa, Al-Ta'mim, Diyala, Baghdad, Babil, Karbala, Wasit, Salah-al-Din, Al-Najaf, Al-Qadisiyah, Al-Muthanna, Dhi Qar, Maysan, and Al-Basrah. Males represented 53 percent of the sample and females 47 percent. The results of the poll also showed that 88 percent believed in the need to hold the referendum under the present circumstances, 10 percent did not believe so, 2 percent did not respond, and 10 percent did not view the referendum as something important. About 34 percent of the sample thought that Iraq was not an independent and sovereign country, 23 percent felt that the constitution did not occupy their attention or fulfill their aspirations, and 13 percent said that the country did not need democracy at this time. About 61 percent thought that the security situation is inappropriate and 27 percent felt that foreigners were forcing them to amend the constitution at this time.

The results of the poll showed that 40 percent of the 5 percent who did not wish to participate in the referendum were not interested in politics, 26 percent were not interested in the constitution, 17 percent did not feel that the security situation was good to hold the referendum, and 12 percent thought that the time was not appropriate for writing the constitution. About 30 percent supported federalism, 45 percent supported the establishment of a central government, 23 percent a federal government, 16 percent a decentralized government, and 13 percent did not express an opinion. This confirms the relative closeness between those who want a central government and those who want a decentralized government.

About 42 percent supported the need to make Islam a main source of legislation and 24 percent supported the need to make Islam the only source of legislation. About 13 percent thought that no laws that contradict Islam should be enacted and 14 percent thought that Islam is one of the sources of legislation. About 84 percent supported granting women all freedoms without contradicting Islam and 13 percent believed that the rights of women should be guaranteed through equality with men. About 60 percent supported maintaining the present percentage of women representation in parliament (25 percent), 21 percent thought that women should have 33 percent representation, and 14 percent thought that there should be equal representation of males and females. Regarding the natural resources, the poll showed that 50 percent believed that the central government should distribute these resources in a relative way and 19 percent believed that an independent body established by the constitution should handle the distribution. About 12 percent supported distributing the resources according to percentages specified by the constitution between the federal government and the regions, while 8 percent believed that the government of the region that possesses the resources should distribute them. About 52 percent thought the constitution should be impartial, establishing the basis for justice and equality. While 35 percent thought this was extremely possible, 5 percent did not think so and 7 percent did not respond to the question. About 78 percent of the polled citizens expected the security situation to improve after the approval of the constitution, 15 percent expected the situation to remain the same, and 2 percent believed that the security situation would become worse. About 85 percent of the polled Iraqis showed interest in the next elections and 10 percent did not show any interest. About 82 percent responded that the purpose of the next elections is to elect a new parliament, 6 percent said it is to choose local councils, and 2 percent said it is to choose a national assembly for the Kurdistan region.

Another, less scientific but more far-ranging survey (http://www.iwpr.net/index.pl?archive/irq/irq_140_2_eng.txt), was conducted by the Civil Alliance for Free Elections, a conglomerate of 76 nongovernmental organizations, which held more than 1,000 workshops attended by 43,000 Iraqis in all of the country's 18 governorates between July and August. Among the results:

Almost 44 per cent of survey participants said they favoured federalism, while about 35 per cent preferred a more limited role for local and regional governments. About 21 per cent said they wanted a centralised authority.

Still, more than 68 per cent said they wanted the central government to be in charge of the revenues from natural resources, namely oil, and distribute it to the regions. Under the draft constitution, control of these funds will be shared between Baghdad and the regional authorities. . . .

The survey showed that nearly 65 per cent of Iraqis supported Islam being cited as a source of legislation - in other words not the only one--as set out in the draft constitution. Reflecting the position of more religious Shia and Sunnis, just over a quarter said that it should be "the main source," while around nine per cent said they would rather religion had no influence on lawmaking. As for the draft constitution's requirement for 25 per cent of lawmakers to be women, around 35 per cent of respondents agreed with this and just over 37 per cent preferred the figure to be higher. Ten per cent said they did not welcome female participation at all.

As to the constitution draft itself, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad provides a good summary (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/03/AR2005090301108.html):

The draft enshrines values and structures that should aid Iraq's democratization, as well as its lasting stability, freedom and prosperity. It contains an enlightened synthesis of universal values and Iraqi traditions. It states that no law may be enacted that contradicts "the established provisions of Islam," "the principles of democracy," and "the rights and basic freedoms stipulated in this constitution"--rights that are far-reaching. This formula requires that Islam be interpreted to be consistent with democracy and human rights.

The draft states that all Iraqis are equal before the law regardless of "gender, race, ethnicity, origin, color, religion, sect, belief or opinion, or economic and social status." It protects the rights of personal privacy; the sanctity of the home; public trials for criminal defendants; and the freedoms of movement, expression, association and political organization. It states that all defendants are innocent until proven guilty. It prohibits extrajudicial punishment, group punishment, property seizures without compensation, and intellectual, political, or religious coercion.

The draft guarantees women the right to participate fully in public life. In fact, it requires that electoral laws ensure that women hold no less than 25 percent of seats in the legislature. It prohibits all "forms of violence and abuse in the family" and "tribal traditions that are in contradiction with human rights." It accords Iraqi citizenship to all children of Iraqi mothers--a provision that is revolutionary in this region. . . .

While some leaders wished to make Islam the source of legislation, the draft makes Islam a fundamental source of legislation. At the same time, the draft guarantees "the freedom of belief and religious practice" and holds that "each individual shall have the freedom of thought, conscience, and faith." . . .

The draft postpones any decision to create federal regions beyond the Kurdish area until the next Assembly is seated, a key Sunni Arab demand. Because Sunni Arabs will participate in the December election, they will participate in deciding this issue. The draft also provides a balanced solution on the control of resources in the context of federalism. It states that oil and gas resources belong to the people; that the federal government, with regional and provincial governments, will manage current resources and equitably share revenue; and that together they will develop a strategy for managing future discoveries based on market principles and encourage investment.

As Khalizad says, "A central achievement of this process is that the draft came about through negotiation, not the exercise of violence. In essence, we can say that politics has broken out in Iraq."

The Sunnis are getting increasingly motivated for participation in the electoral process. This from Samarra (http://www.almendhar.com/english_5688/news.aspx):

During Friday sermons, mosque Imams in Samera (120 km [75 miles] north of Baghdad) have called the residents of the city to hurry in registering at the registration centers under the supreme commission for the elections to participate in the coming plebiscite on the constitution and the elections following it. Sheikh Mahmoud Al Saud, preacher of Al Nour Mosque in the center of Samera, said, "Assisting in the achievement of the works of the employees of the supreme commission for the elections is a sacred duty that everyone should perform." Sheikh Al Saud described the process of voting on the plebiscite as "a crucial mission." He confirmed the full support on behalf of the religious institutions for participation in the coming voting.

And Dyiala (http://www.almendhar.com/english_5730/news.aspx) province:

During the Sunni Conference in Diala province, Dr. Adnan Al Dailami, president of the conference of Sunnis in Iraq stressed the necessity of cooperation, refraining from personal inclinations, rejecting sectarianism and racism, calling for the unity of Iraq and Iraqis, participating in the plebiscite on the constitution and the elections as they would define the identity of Iraq, and cooperating with the general commission for the elections. . . . At the end of the conference, the attendees have approved a statement in which they called the province residents to necessarily participate in the plebiscite on the constitution. . . . The conference was attended by a number of clans' chiefs, clergymen and the notables of the city.

Voter registration has been extended (http://www.almendhar.com/english_5795/news.aspx) by one week in Al Anbar province to give even more Sunnis an opportunity to enroll to vote. The results have been very encouraging (http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-5264710,00.html):

Election officials tallied figures from three Sunni-dominated provinces, where the voter registration was extended a week in preparation for the Oct. 15 nationwide referendum on the new constitution.

"Turnout was unbelievable and people were very enthusiastic, especially in Fallujah and Ramadi," said Farid Ayar, an electoral commission spokesman in Baghdad. Those cities are Sunni insurgent bastions in Anbar province, which stretches west from Baghdad to the Syrian, Jordanian and Saudi borders.

The large voter signup suggests minority Sunnis are mobilizing to defeat the draft charter, a marked tactical shift from January, when their boycott of the parliamentary election handed control of the 275-member National Assembly to Shiites and Kurds. . . .

The very Sunni clerics who railed last January against an election "under foreign military occupation" are now urging their people to take part in both the referendum and the parliamentary balloting in December. . . .

In Anbar and Salahuddin approximately 75 percent of eligible voters signed up by the Wednesday deadline, election officials said, while cautioning the tally was not final. The percentage figure changed throughout the day as more regions reported. In Diyala, a Sunni majority province where the count was final, 417,000 of 750,000 eligible voters, or 56 percent, registered, according to Amir Latif, director of the provincial elections commission.

Even insurgents (http://www.almendhar.com/english_5974/news.aspx) are planning to swap bullets for ballots:

The armed group of "The Islamic Army in Iraq," which has announced its responsibility for the kidnapping and assassination of several foreigners in Iraq, has called Iraqis to participate in the plebiscite on the draft of the Iraqi permanent constitution and vote with "No."

But politics and political divisions are not the be-all end-all of Iraq, as just one recent example shows (http://www.iwpr.net/archive/ipm/ipm_316.html): The Sunni Scholars Council of Falluja has called on the people to donate blood for the Shia victims in the al-Kadhimiya neighborhood, where more 850 people were killed and 323 wounded. The Imam of al-Furkan mosque said that they would like to express the fraternity between the different sects of Iraq and that what happened to the Shia yesterday is a calamity to all of the Iraqi people. Hundreds of people rushed to the hospitals to donate their blood and tens of ambulances made shuttle trips to Baghdad carrying the blood.

More here (http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/IRIN/8dfb9b66804a395a797abb146878030c.htm).

If the tragic story has its hero (http://www.almendhar.com/english_5935/news.aspx), his name is Othman Ali Al Ubaidy, a Sunni from Al Adhamia, who had rescued six Shiites from the river before himself drowning (more here (http://www.cbc.ca/story/world/national/2005/09/06/iraq_hero20050906.html)). The disaster also brought out the best (http://www.almendhar.com/english_5925/news.aspx) from the living:

Hundreds of Iraqis poured into a donation centre in Baghdad on Sunday to offer financial help to families of the victims of Wednesday's stampede.

Many Iraqis, increasingly frustrated at living with everyday violence, have been mourning the victims of the stampede on A'imma bridge, which killed at least 1,005 people mostly women and children.

"We were in pain over the loss of hundreds of our citizens and we decided to turn our grief into benefit," said Tha'ir al- Haznawi, a main organiser of the fundraising scheme.

He said many people had responded especially after state television channel Iraqiya agreed to host the donation centre in its offices near Haifa Street, once a stronghold of insurgents, and devoted almost constant live coverage to the event.

"On the first day, we managed to fill one box with cash donations. On the second day word spread and we managed to fill three large donation boxes," he told Reuters.

Eight-year-old Humam Jasim, himself a survivor of the stampede, was wrapped in an Iraqi flag and carried three cuddly toys. He waited in line to donate his 3,000 Iraqi dinars ($2) pocket money and his favourite toys.

"I came here to give for the martyrs. When I saw this programme on TV I told my older brother that I wanted to go and donate my toys to the children," said Jasim.

Many government ministers and officials have donated one month's salary to the victims' families. Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari, who turned up at the centre on Saturday, pledged to donate all his pay-cheques until the end of the year. The largest single private donation came from an Iraqi living in the U.S. city of Seattle, who donated $17,000, organisers said, and from Defence Minister Saadoun Dulaimi, who donated the same amount.

The Iraqi National Olympic Committee is now honoring Iraqi champion swimmers (http://www.almendhar.com/english_5976/news.aspx) who participated in rescuing the drowning people from the river.

With only a few weeks left before the referendum, the U.S. will stay on the sidelines as a facilitator (http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/08/31/news/baghdad.php):

Seeking to promote the ratification of the proposed Iraqi constitution without placing more of an American stamp on the process, the Bush administration is planning to encourage its approval while avoiding a specific endorsement or outright campaigning on its behalf, according to White House officials.

The officials said Tuesday that the United States could help with printing and distributing copies of the proposed constitution throughout Iraq, continue to encourage international support for ratification of the document, press other countries in the region to use their influence with Sunnis in particular to take part in the voting and help the Sunni Arabs talk to Shiite and Kurdish leaders about how the document could be refined. "We will continue to be a voice and a facilitator of greater understanding between the three communities," said Stephen Hadley, the national security adviser. "But it is their document and they will have to take the lead on this point."

Italy (http://www.adnki.com/index_2Level.php?cat=Politics&loid=8.0.205691510&par=0), on the other hand, will be training election workers:

Italy will invest 2 million euro [$2.5 million] for Iraq's upcoming elections, training the local election staff, as it did in the January 2005 elections. The funds, which will be given by Italy's foreign ministry to the UN's election body, will be used for the 15 October referendum on the draft constitution and the 15 December parliamentary elections.

The training seminars for local election staff will be held in Jordan in September, said the ministry's foreign affairs' spokesman Pasquale Terracciano In September and October, the Iraqi task force of the Italian foreign ministry will also develop a series of programmes for the training of Iraqi journalists and communication experts.

The electoral commission is bringing together the heads of all the Iraqi political parties for a conference (http://www.almendhar.com/english_5901/news.aspx) to discuss the election process. On the streets, there is so much interest and enthusiasm about the constitution that news vendors were selling pirated copies of the document (http://apnews.myway.com/article/20050904/D8CDJEPO3.html) before the draft has been officially printed by the authorities.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/EGUA-6FMSYF?OpenDocument&rc=3&cc=irq) has been assisting constitutional education:

Over the past few weeks, a USAID supported International Advisory Group of 40 constitutional and legal experts worked with members of the Constitutional Committee. Visiting experts continue to meet with the Committee to offer technical advice and produce papers, upon request, on federalism, reconstruction and economic development, and options regarding outstanding issues of disagreement. Other experts have offered on-line advice on the constitutional drafting process.

The Constitutional Dialogue program launched in early July has reached 93,494 Iraqis through some 3,610 dialogues. The program will now transition to the Constitutional Education Program that will ensure Iraqis are aware of the content of the document and the meaning of key legal concepts and issues prior to the national referendum. . . .

USAID representatives recently recruited 180 election monitors for the Voter Registration Observer Program which will monitor the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq's (IECI) new voter registration process until the end of August. Stationed at nearly 550 voter registration centers throughout Iraq, they will report daily on new registrations and voter correction activities in rotating locations. . . .

USAID hosted the "Women in the Constitution Conference" earlier this month which brought together 456 women from all 18 governorates to discuss the inclusion of women's rights in the constitution. . . . Three women's organizations, supported by a USAID grant program, are educating Iraqis on issues related to women and the constitution. For the past six weeks, the organizations have developed an extensive series of newsletters, activities, and seminars. While additional workshops will continue through August, preliminary numbers show that the three groups have reached over 1,500 individuals from most of the Iraqi governorates.

In the overall election education campaign (http://www.reliefweb.int/library/documents/2005/usaid-irq-1sep.pdf) (link in PDF):

Public education on the Constitutional Process enters the next stage. To ensure that a maximum number of Iraqis will be introduced to the constitution and its key issues prior to the national referendum, USAID partners and local NGOs outlined a program expected to reach between 150,000 and 200,000 Iraqis between the end of August and early October. The program will train 500 facilitators to organize small discussion sessions and large town-hall meetings. In large meetings, local officials and judges will be invited to participate in panel discussions in which the audience will be able to directly ask how they plan to enforce the content of the proposed constitution.

USAID is also educating through TV:

The Our Constitution television program helps broaden the national debate on constitutional issues. Since Our Constitution was first shown on July 10, millions of Iraqis have tuned into the prime-time program offering discussions among experts and Constitutional drafters followed by studio debates on key issues from the role of women to the question of an Islamic state. The program's 32 episodes are produced in the presence of a studio audience of up to 80 people. Subsequent episodes will include live links to audiences in studios across the country. Al-Iraqiya covers virtually all of Iraq through an extensive network of TV stations and satellite coverage.The U.N. Office of Constitutional Support has also been assisting in constitution drafting. Read this profile of one of the people involved, the delightfully named New Zealand attorney Michele Law (http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,3394456a1861,00.html).

All throughout Iraq in the past few months literally myriads of meetings, conferences, seminars and campaigns were conducted to debate and inform both the policy-makers and the people about the constitution. This is just one example (http://www.colgate.edu/DesktopDefault1.aspx?tabid=730&pgID=6013&nwID=3927):

Colgate professor Stanley Brubaker, who was in Iraq this summer for a conference about the nation's constitution, is "cautiously optimistic" that the document hammered out after months of contentious negotiations will be approved in an upcoming referendum.

Brubaker, who teaches political science and directs Colgate's Washington D.C. Study Group, attended the conference held July 13-16 in Erbil (also referred to as Hawler) in Kurdistan, Iraq.

The conference was co-sponsored by the Hudson Institute, a public policy research organization based in Washington, and the University of Salahaddin, which is in Erbil.

Brubaker and five other scholars of the U.S. Constitution gave eight presentations on various aspects of the American constitutional experience.

"The basic idea was to offer those involved in the process of forming the Iraq constitution insights from the American experience. There are some interesting parallels involving questions of federalism, the relation of religion to the state, and the perennial problems of how to build a stable and decent democracy," said Brubaker.

"The Iraqis seemed quite interested in learning from our experience--both our mistakes and our successes," he added. About 60 Iraqis attended the conference, including members of parliament, several of whom were on the constitution drafting committee, the mayor of Baghdad, Iraqi judges, members of the Kurdish parliament, and University of Salahaddin faculty members.

Meanwhile, several foreign NGOs are helping to build civil society (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/ACIO-6FQL35?OpenDocument&rc=3&cc=irq):

Italian Consortium of Solidarity, in partnership with Oxfam-GB and Church World Service-CWS , is carrying out a capacity building project to assist Iraqi NGOs. The project aims at strengthening the managerial skills of staff of grassroots Iraqi civil society organizations and improving their effectiveness in the humanitarian actions. A further intended outcome is to enhance their ability to advocate for the basic rights of the Iraqi population.

Iraq's publishing industry (http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2005-08-25-literature-iraq_x.htm?csp=34) grows, free of government censorship:

Under Saddam Hussein, government censors scrutinized manuscripts and shut down publishers if they were critical of the government.

Printers of underground books and magazines, if discovered, disappeared into Saddam's prisons.

Today, the censors have vanished and publishers are free to distribute what they please. The result has been an explosion of demand for foreign books, particularly textbooks and books on technology. Books by moderate Islamic political reformers are also popular, says Saad al-Rubaie, owner of the Al-Nahda bookstore in Baghdad.

Translations of Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Gabriel Garcia Marquez (One Hundred Years of Solitude) are popular and relatively cheap, he says.

But Iraq's book publishers, who once churned out political tomes such as Saddam's speeches, are struggling to compete with the flood of foreign books now available.

"The best chance of making money is in the time of election campaigns. Now it's slow," says Taha Ja'afer, who owns the Al-Munjid publishing house in central Baghdad. Political parties and organizations buy pamphlets, posters and circulars.

There are also dozens of newspapers of differing political stripes published throughout the country. Ja'afer's company publishes 15 newspapers.

The government still controls four book publishers, but most of the action is with the private publishers, who don't work under restrictions. The state printers, now affiliated with the Culture Ministry, must have works approved by a committee that judges their literary merit. Under Saddam, the Information Ministry had to approve manuscripts. Ja'afer, a poet, once tried getting a book of love poems published. It was denied because it made a reference to a prison, even though he was referring to the "prison of his heart," he says. "It was so difficult getting approval," Ja'afer says.

British archivists (http://www.managinginformation.com/news/content_show_full.php?id=4229), meanwhile, have helped their Iraqi colleagues to recover some of their cultural heritage:

On 5 September Dr Saad Eskander, Director General of the Iraqi National Library and Archive was presented microfiche and microfilm of rare Iraqi books and archives by the British Embassy Baghdad in the presence of Maysoon al Dumlaji, Deputy Minister of Culture. The identification of requirements was carried out by the British Library which has been working with the Iraq National Library and Archive to reconstruct its lost collections. The British Library had previously collated an outline list of relevant items in its collection. With funding from the British Government, copies of key documents have now been reproduced and supplied to Iraq on microfilm/fiche . The British Library has established good links with the Iraqi National Library, which they are continuing to develop for the future.

Iraq's new news agency (http://usinfo.state.gov/xarchives/display.html?p=washfile-english&y=2005&m=September&x=20050901162837cpataruk7.960147e-02&t=livefeeds/wf-latest.html) is starting to spread its wings:

A fledgling Internet news service in Iraq called Aswat al-Iraq (Voices of Iraq) plans to expand services in September and begin charging for subscriptions by early 2006, moving it closer to its goal of operating as an independent and profitable news agency.

The Internet service currently is funded by the Reuters Foundation, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation. Its Web site publishes 600 news items a month, mostly in Arabic, which are the work of 30 paid staff writers and reporters from three founding-member newspapers--al Sabah al Jadid, al Mannarah, and al Mada. Within the next few weeks, the service will offer news in Kurdish, said Jo Weir, project manager for the Reuters Foundation. By the end of September, an English language desk will be up and running. She said Aswat al-Iraq's supporters believe news in English will attract international media to pay for the service. Early in 2006, the agency will begin charging money for subscriptions. Aswat al-Iraq plans a business news service and an oil reporting service, both of which it hopes will be of interest to foreign media. It is from its English-language service that the agency expects to earn almost all its income.

Meanwhile, USAID continues to train journalists (http://www.reliefweb.int/library/documents/2005/usaid-irq-1sep.pdf) (link in PDF):

Twenty-two Iraqi journalists who make up the core staff of the future National Iraq News Agency (NINA) recently completed a reporting, writing, and editing workshop. The training tasked the NINA staff with managing news reporting from a mock agency environment: the Internet café at a Baghdad hotel transformed into a newsroom. Workshop participants also learned about prudent use of resources and other core editorial management issues. Additional training programs, for both the core staff and additional members, will continue throughout August and September. NINA--the country's first private and independent national news agency--is scheduled to start operating in early October. The first major event to be covered by NINA staff is the constitutional referendum on Oct. 15.

In the south, a new media NGO (http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/IRIN/a303d6e51210bdd9dbddf3795b67dd09.htm) is aiming to foster better media in free, democratic Iraq:

An Iraqi media NGO has been recently established in the southern city of Basra, with an aim to improve and develop local media discourse.

A group of six Iraqi journalists founded the Afaq Media Forum (AMF), which works under the premise that media plays a crucial role in scrutinising and strengthening democratic institutions. Afaq in Arabic means horizons.

"We found it very necessary to establish AMF in response to the fact that Iraqi journalists and media suffer from serious problems," said Adil al-Thamiry, chairman of AMF's executive board.

"Workers in this field have been under the influence of a totalitarian regime. The Iraqi journalists' discourse is in need to be credible in order to be effective."

The AMF put forward a number of proposals to the government, including building a stronger independent press, increasing journalists' participation in public policy and developing a sustainable network of informed journalists. Promoting international action to defend press freedom, helping young journalists to improve skills and increasing women's participation in the media were other recommendations.

A new radio show is providing a regional first (http://www.casperstartribune.net/articles/2005/09/04/news/world/4c14532cddddf9908725707100743c9e.txt):

The two radio hosts, Majda and Majid, a chattering woman-and-man team, said the subject for the next hour would be childbearing and motherhood, from the first flush of pregnancy to the tribulations of labor.

Majda al-Juburi and Ruwayda al-Khafayie leading a talk show in the Baghdad dialect of Arabic on Al Mahaba. The title means "Cup of Tea." . . .

The rest of the recent talk show, called "Cup of Tea," went much like that, with the two hosts trading barbed insights.

The station broadcasting it, Radio Al Mahaba, on 96 FM here in central Iraq, could well be the only one in the Arab world devoted to women's issues, its founders say. Started with United Nations financing by an American woman and an Iraqi refugee from western New York, it falls between National Public Radio and "The Oprah Winfrey Show." The station broadcasts programs about marriage, divorce, careers, religion, the constitution, physical abuse and dress codes, all from the perspective of women. The shows are especially sharp-edged in a country where Shiite militiamen in the south harass women without head scarves and religious leaders in Baghdad have pushed for a greater role for Islam--and, consequently, a potential rollback of women's rights--in the new constitution.

In one sign of monumental changes that have taken place in Iraqi society over the past three years, this instead of the torture rooms (http://www.iwpr.net/archive/ipm/ipm_315.html): "A source at the Ministry of Education said the detainees, especially the juveniles, will be allowed to take part in the final exams to enable them to make use of the democratic experience in deciding their future."

And baseball (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/07/international/middleeast/07baseball.html?ei=5090&en=34a80f4ab0fc6bae&ex=1283745600&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss&pagewanted=all) continues to grow in Iraq:

The opening pitch of the Northern Regional Junior Baseball Tournament last March was a slow ball that struck the dirt an inch behind home plate, bounced into the catcher's face mask and knocked him to the ground.

For anyone focusing on details, like skill, it may have seemed an inauspicious start. But to the players and the two dozen spectators, most of whom did not know the difference between a ball and a strike, the moment underscored something far more important: Baseball had come to Iraq.

Founded in the fall of 2003 by Ismael Khalil Ismael, a shop owner in Baghdad, the national league has grown to 26 full-fledged baseball teams in 18 provinces stretching from Nineveh in the north to Basra in the south. Using hand-me-down gloves and other cast-off equipment, much of it donated from the United States, the teams play on sandy lots, rutted pastures and soccer pitches. "I'm doing it for the history of Iraq," he declared.

There are many problems, including infighting among sports authorities, threats from those who don't like "an imported sport," and lack of resources--with Ismael reluctant to ask the Americans for help so as not to become a target of terrorists. Still, this is a perfect opportunity for some grassroots ballplayer-to-ballplayer support across the world.

September 21st, 2005, 09:06 PM
The authorities are working on reviving the economy (http://www.almendhar.com/english_5722/news.aspx):
Osama Abdel Aziz, Iraqi industry minister, announced the privatization of the state owned companies within a plan that would be in force and would continue for several years. Abdel Aziz said that the ministry has started in the application of a program for encouraging the private sector, investors and craftsmen to execute industrial projects all over Iraq. The Iraqi minister has pointed out that several companies that were suspended due to the last incidents witnessed in Iraq, such as the former military industries company, have been re-operated and became efficient through converting the type of these companies and making use of the cadres working in them.

Speaking of privatization, USAID has been educating people (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/Iraqi+economic+journalist+associations+study+Iraq+ business%2C+job+growth%3B+Iraq+investment%2C+trade __1111461.html?PHPSESSID=af97361ee4e99194f8af50717 fa3f31b) who will be educating the public:

Twenty-six members of Iraqi economic journalist associations recently attended a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) training on privatization.

The journalists, representing one-third of the business reporters in the country, learned about the significance of privatization and explored its development and implementation in other countries. With a strengthened understanding of privatization, these journalists can better communicate their expectations and insights regarding privatization to business leaders and the public. As a result of the training, the journalists can identify which countries have successfully undergone privatization and better convey its long-term advantages, including business growth and long-term job creation.

USAID is also training various government employees (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/KHII-6FX7PJ?OpenDocument&rc=3&cc=irq):

USAID recently conducted a customs workshop for the Iraqi business community. More than 65 members of Iraqi business associations, consumer organizations, and women's business groups attended the customs, tariff and trade workshop in Baghdad to learn about the modern role of the Customs Department in facilitating trade and law enforcement. . . . Trade experts from USAID's IZDIHAR project recently led a three-day training seminar in Baghdad on the specialized topic of Trade in Services for 27 Iraqi government officials. The seminar, which detailed how Iraq will need to make commitments to the General Agreement on Trade in Service (GATS) in order to join the WTO, was hosted by the Ministry of Trade and attended by officials from other Iraqi ministries, including Labor, Finance, Higher Education, Health, Municipalities, Justice, and the Central Bank.

The Jordanian Investment Board (http://www.petra.gov.jo/nepras/2005/Aug/30/27226800.htm), meanwhile, will be cooperating with the Iraqi Ministry of Planning to share its expertise in attracting foreign investment and laws and regulations relating to investment.

The government administration (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/Iraq+Financial+Management+Information+System+onlin e__1111460.html?PHPSESSID=af97361ee4e99194f8af5071 7fa3f31b) is benefiting from the introduction of new systems:

The Iraq Financial Management Information System (FMIS) is online, with 41 of the 54 units in the Ministry of Finance able to access the system.

FMIS is an automated networked accounting and budget execution system, allowing online access and a real-time centralized database for all Iraqi spending agencies.

Already, 35 agencies have used the system to enter previous expense and revenue data, and have reconciled these with the Certified Trail Balances. Recommendations have already been developed for expanding the system to all remaining 128 spending agencies in the Ministry of Finance by the end of the year.

A major Iraqi bank has slashed interest rates (http://www.azzaman.com/english/index.asp?fname=news2005-09-0510508.htm) to attract investors:

The state-owned Industrial Bank has cut the interest on loans it extends to Iraqi entrepreneurs by more than half.

The bank's director, Abdulwahab Habib, said the rate has been reduced to 9% from 20.

The move, he said, was part of government incentives to encourage domestic industry and lure Iraqi entrepreneurs to start up new businesses.

"We want to regain pubic confidence in this sector (the bank) and we promise our clients that further interest rate cuts on our loans are possible," Habib said in an interview. Iraqi entrepreneurs are reported to be interested in setting up new businesses or refurbishing the existing ones despite mounting violence and security.

There's also some help for one of Iraq's newer banks (http://www.iraqdirectory.com/files/articles/article697.htm):

The board of directors of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) has approved $150 million in financing for a U.S. trust facility established to support efforts by the new Trade Bank of Iraq (TBI) to rebuild the Iraqi economy. OPIC's financing, which includes an initial $70 million financing transaction coordinated by Citigroup, will guaranty financing by TBI to foreign exporters involved in reconstruction projects. By supporting the bank's reimbursement obligations, the trust will facilitate the provision of goods and services vital to Iraq's reconstruction after decades of international isolation.

Up north, Kurdistan launches its biggest tourism (http://www.almendhar.com/english_5725/news.aspx) project:

Farouq Al Mulla Abdullah, chairman of "Asia Al Kurdia" company, based in Al Selaimania (350 km [220 miles] northeast of Baghdad) has launched its tourist project under the name of "City of Beauty," which is considered as the biggest tourist project in the province.

The project consists of a hotel of 28 floors (5 stars) and modern tourist facilities, constructed on a hill in the middle of Al Selaimania city, at the cost of 60 million dollars. Mustafa Tajir, chairman of the first telecommunication company in Iraq (Asiacell) said, "The lack of investment projects in Iraqi Kurdistan necessitates our hard work to attract foreign investments to the region, through setting investment plans that suit the needs of the region." He confirmed, "The government of the region encourages such investments and offers all legal facilities, for the purpose of attracting foreign investments to the region. As for us (Asiacell), we rely on foreign expertise in establishing our investment projects in the region. As for the finance of these projects, it is self-finance."

Indeed, Kurdistan is becoming a tourist mecca (http://kurdistanobserver.servehttp.com/Sep/4-9-05-see-kurdistan-and-live.htm) for Iraqis from the south:

Iraq may not be a likely destination for international tourists for a little while yet, but in the past few months tens of thousands of Iraqis have made their way to its northern provinces in search of a relaxing break.

As the British head to Spain to find sun, and young Americans to Mexico for legal alcohol, Iraqis drive north to Kurdistan lured by a selling point that rarely appears in Western holiday brochures: the opportunity not to get shot.

In a country where there is an average of 80 shootings, bombings and mortar attacks every day, the four northern Kurdish provinces have been a haven of relative calm since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

One of the most popular destinations is Lake Dukan, a giant reservoir in the mountains of Suleimaniya province where altitude also provides respite from the summer's stultifying heat. Yesterday nearly every hotel room had been booked weeks in advance.

On the surrounding roads families picnicked, while at the lake's edge a procession of cars drove up throughout the afternoon to unload their cargoes of over-excited children.

The males and young stripped down to their underwear to jump in and start splashing each other. The women sat preparing food.

"I can not put into words what I feel to be here," said Bekal Shakir, 20, as she cradled her newborn daughter. "It is wonderful--quiet and full of water. At home I feel myself to be in prison. I am always stressed and can often lose my temper. So many tragic things happen. But here I feel a different person, I feel happy."

There are no government figures for how many tourists have visited Kurdistan this summer, but tourism officials believe numbers have increased by 25 per cent. The Kurdish government has approved 50 new hotels and ordered the printing of guidebooks in Arabic, English and Kurdish.

In communications (http://www.itp.net/news/details.php?id=17593&category=) developments throughout Iraq:

Globecomm Systems, a global provider of end-to-end value-added satellite-based communications solutions, has been awarded a one-year contract extension by the Iraqi Telecom & Post Company (ITPC). Through its partners, Globecomm will provide international voice services to the ITPC for phone calls originating in Iraq as well as for calls originating outside of the country. . . . Asia-cell, which currently claims 800,000 subscribers in northern Iraq, has stated that it expects to have 1 million subscribers by December 22. Meanwhile, MTC Atheer and Iraqna each expect to claim 1.5 million subscribers each by the same point. Combined, the three operators will have invested over US$500 million in expanding their networks by the time their current licences expire. Their efforts will see Iraq with a penetration rate of around 13.5% by the end of 2005.

In transport news, regular flights (http://aawsat.com/english/news.asp?section=1&id=1476) are set to commence in September to Cairo and London. More here (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,7374-1757773,00.html):

Tired of long waits at packed airline check-in counters? Looking for an exclusive holiday destination with guaranteed sunshine, unique historical sites and plenty of adventure? Iraqi Airways may have just the answer.

Beginning next month, Iraq's troubled national carrier is planning to resume direct scheduled flights from Baghdad International Airport (formerly Saddam International Airport) to London for the first time in 15 years to lure visitors to one of the few countries in the world that has no tourists.

According to Salam Maliki, the Iraqi Transport Minister, regular flights to Heathrow will start in the next few weeks in an effort to rehabilitate the travel industry and to end the country's decade and a half of isolation from the rest of the world.

Already half a dozen enterprising charter airlines, with names such as Magic Carpet and Ishtar, operate limited services out of Iraq, mainly to neighbouring capitals. But such is the demand by Iraqi expatriates returning home, Iraqis escaping the violence here and foreigners coming for work that a regular intercontinental service is now thought viable.

September 21st, 2005, 09:07 PM
The United Nations (http://www.almendhar.com/english_5699/news.aspx) finalizes its contribution:

The United Nations has designated a sum of 965 million dollars to execute its seven-pivot plan for the reconstruction and establishment of Iraq.

Ashraf Qazi, special representative of UN secretary general in Iraq, said that the budget, which was designated by the United Nations, has reached 865 million dollars until last July. The budget was obtained from the main sources of agencies, mutual funding and multi-party funding, and the international facility of Iraq reconstruction fund through the United Nations development. The UN team managed to designate a sum of 350 million dollars from the main resources of agencies and other resources, for the purpose of reconstructing the new Iraq. He pointed out that the total projects' funds, which was approved by the Iraqi credit fund, under the UN development group, has reached more than 516 million dollars until last July. It is hoped that the international community would supply the Iraqi credit fund, under the UN development group, with additional resources to facilitate supporting the efforts exerted by the organization for the reconstruction of Iraq.

The U.N. is also involved in smaller, capacity-building projects (http://www.harolddoan.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=5687):

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission of Western Asia (UNESCWA) has received US $8.7 million from the United Nations Development Group Iraq Trust Fund (UNDG ITF) for three major development projects aimed at serving Iraq at this stage of reconstruction.

Electronic Networks--The first project, whose primary stages were completed by UNESCWA, involved establishing networking academies. Four of these academies were established in major Iraqi universities: Baghdad, Mansour, Mosul, and Basra. The centres are considered an important link through which college participants can interact with others locally, regionally and internationally. They can send and receive information through advanced networks. The success of this stage, which cost US $1 million and reaped the CISCO Systems "Against All Odds" Award, led to tasking UNESCWA with the completion of the 2nd stage, i.e. the establishment of local and regional networking academies throughout Iraq, at a cost of US $4 million.
Training Programs--The second project involves training services provided by UNESCWA over the past year for senior staff at Iraqi ministries for the purpose of capacity-building. A series of training workshops were executed in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) aimed at improving the skills of senior administrative staff at the Iraqi Ministry of Planning and Development Cooperation in various sectors such as strategic planning, institution-building, task force creation, leadership and information delivery. A workshop was also done for senior staff at the Ministries of Housing and Construction, Municipalities and Public Works, and the Baghdad Mayorality. In cooperation with the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), UNESCWA is executing four training workshops for municipal employees from Erbil and Basra on municipal structure, modern administrative techniques, and providing services to citizens within the city concerned. UNESCWA has also embarked on plans to train employees from the Ministries of Justice and of Human Rights and to prepare a series of other training workshops for the Ministry of Municipalities and Public Works for the coming year. A total of US $1 million have been earmarked for this project.
Technology to Fight Poverty--About a month ago, the third project on "Smart Communities" was adopted, with US $2.7 million set aside for this purpose. In this project, UNESCWA will assist poor and marginalized segments of society in the urban and rural areas of Iraq through the establishment of social development centres that provide and facilitate the use of appropriate technology to assist economically by creating jobs and marketing products at a level acceptable to the consumer.
Numerous reconstruction and infrastructure projects are under way across Iraq. For example, the authorities are in the planning stages for the construction of eight new bridges (http://www.almendhar.com/english_5919/news.aspx) throughout the provinces at the cost of 100 billion dinars ($68 million). On a smaller scale, after some mishaps, Baghdad's Sadr City is getting a new fire station (http://www.blackanthem.com/TheAllies/2005082604.html):

Construction has restarted on Sadr City's $902,000 Al Sadr Fire Station project, after a recent construction collapse while concrete was being placed. The project is scheduled for completion in March of 2006. This three-story structure is almost 10,000 square feet and features five bays; three for ladder trucks and two for SUVs. It includes a dormitory area for 20 firefighters, dining room for 30, commercial-grade kitchenette to feed 40 people, a training room for 20, a locker room, a control room and a chief's office.USAID is helping with reconstruction on the local level (http://www.reliefweb.int/library/documents/2005/usaid-irq-25aug.pdf) (link in PDF):

USAID's Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) supports the transition to a participatory, stable, and democratic country. OTI provides quick-dispensing, high-impact grants meeting critical needs-providing short-term employment, restoring basic government and community services, increasing access to information and communication, and encouraging protection of human rights. An intermediate school for girls in central Iraq rehabilitated its facilities through an Iraq Transition Initiative (ITI) grant. . . . A health clinic in central Iraq renovated its facilities through an ITI grant. . . . A city council in northern Iraq renovated a local radio station through ITI support. . . . Supported by ITI, a local Iraqi NGO implemented an exchange program for civil society leaders. . . . The Department of Education, with support from the ITI, provided furniture and small generators to a series of schools in a central Iraqi city.

The World Health Organization (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/KHII-6FS4H7?OpenDocument&rc=3&cc=irq) is assisting Iraqi health system in a variety of ways:

Instability and insecurity are the harsh realities of modern-day Iraq. Consequently, moving forward is not just an option, it is a necessity, which WHO illustrates in its current support to the Iraq MOH through number of crucial tasks: the extension of the national blood transfusion centre is at 90%; 33 projects to rehabilitate over 50 PHC centers in different governorates are currently under implementation (a number have just recently been completed), with the rehabilitation of more than 15 PHC centers still under bidding and WHO is working to construct 19 training halls around Iraq, one for each governorate (18 are currently under implementation). . . .

WHO's responsibilities to the Iraqi people entail not just treating existing diseases, but working to prevent their further spread as well. With that clear goal in mind, WHO has taken a significant number of measures to support the MOH in achieving a healthier Iraq. The outcome of this assistance can be seen in the data on communicable diseases received from CDC-MOH Baghdad . . .: A total of 2,448 cases of Kala-Azar were reported by all Iraqi governorates during the first six months of 2004, and only 1,240 cases were reported in the same period of 2005, meaning that WHO's concerted support to the MOH Programme has paid off in roughly a 50% decrease in incidence. . . . In continuing to support the campaign to educate Iraqi's on essential health matters, 570 health related and scientific publications and CDs were distributed by WHO to: the Medical Colleges Group in the University of Mosul, the High Institution of Health of Al Batool, the Nuclear Medicine Hospitals and the Environmental Researches & Pollution Control Center in Mosul. A more informed Iraq will help contribute to a healthier Iraq.

A successful vaccination campaign (http://www.reliefweb.int/library/documents/2005/usaid-irq-1sep.pdf) has been conducted throughout the country in collaboration between the Iraqi health authorities and international organizations (link in PDF):

In coordination with the Iraqi Ministry of Health (MOH), USAID implementing partners, including UNICEF, launched an emergency polio immunization campaign to prevent the resurgence of the disease. The campaign reached 4.7 million children in five days. Detailed micro-planning and micromapping of all districts was conducted to ensure comprehensive coverage. Preliminary figures from all governorates revealed that 90 percent to 98 percent of the targeted children were vaccinated. Iraq has had no known cases of polio in the past four years, despite recent outbreaks in Yemen, Sudan, Egypt, and other countries. The MOH, drawing from its experience with similar USAID projects, was able to draw on 9,537 professional and volunteer vaccination teams and 1,615 field supervisors deployed from primary health care (PHC) centers throughout the country. USAID partners assisted the effort, providing 10.2 million vaccine doses along with transportation and logistical support to vaccination teams, field supervisors, and independent monitoring teams. Additionally, 4,222 cartons of safety boxes were delivered to collect used syringes and vaccine vials, an important component in vaccine safety and environmental protection.

Work also continues on construction of health clinic throughout the country:

Construction continues on Primary Health Care clinics across Iraq. Partner teams have announced that they are just over half done in the construction of six private health care (PHC) clinics in four governorates. Fully functioning PHC clinics are a key component in USAID's work to build a thriving community health sector. Since the beginning of 2004, USAID has sought to help Iraq shift the focus of the health delivery system from inpatient to primary health care, and to improve performance and motivation throughout the system. As with many other developing countries, PHCs are an integral part of the health care system, providing both curative care and preventive services. To date, USAID and partner firms have renovated over 110 PHC clinics and provided skills training for over 2,500 primary health care providers and 700 physicians. Construction on these six clinics began earlier this year.

The Ministry of Health will be spending $300 million (http://www.almendhar.com/english_5692/news.aspx) to import needed medicines into Iraq.

In education news, the second batch of Iraqi students are in the U.S. on the Fulbright Scholarships, which were suspended between 1989 and 2003. Read the profile of one of the students, Muhammod Murad (http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/local/12507176.htm).

Work on water projects continues (http://www.blackanthem.com/TheAllies/2005082604.html) across the country:

Workers completed rehabilitation of the domestic water network in Sulaymaniyah. This project is to rehabilitate the potable water system, intended to improve the efficiency of the system there by 20 percent. The Maissa potable water system, a $21,000 project in Mosul to replace a failed water line, was also completed. Also this week; the $27 million water treatment project in Balad Rooz District of Diyala Province will provide 40km [25 miles] of transmission piping and increase the water treatment plant's capacity to serve 72,000 families, compared to the current capacity of 1,136 families. The $958,000 Al Baida water supply project, which will provide a new water line from the water tower in Al Warka to the community of Al Baida, began on the 22nd. Approximately 25,000 Iraqis in the Dahuk, Babylon and Wassit Provinces will get treated potable water, thanks to three million dollars released for local projects. The projects will upgrade 15 systems, each including water wells, compact potable water treatment plants and pumps. Completion dates for the 15 projects vary, but are all scheduled to be finished by January of 2006.

There are also more resources for the capital (http://www.iwpr.net/archive/ipm/ipm_316.html):

The Council of Ministers has allocated $100 million for the municipality office of Baghdad to avoid the expected sewage flood next winter. The funds are also meant to treat the water pollution of Sadr City and new Baghdad neighborhoods. Governor of Baghdad Husein al-Tahhan said $70 million will be used to treat the sewage system, $26 million for water, and $3 million for the cleaning of the city.

USAID continues its work in Fallujah (http://www.reliefweb.int/library/documents/2005/usaid-irq-1sep.pdf) (link in PDF):

Several water projects in Fallujah have been completed despite the difficulties of working in a conflict area. With the support of local water officials, [Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance] and its partners have repaired or replaced many major components of the city's water infrastructure:

Repairs to a main water treatment plant have increased access to clean water for over 40 percent of the population, providing constant water to connected houses in five districts.
More than 5 km [three miles] of sewage pipe network were repaired or replaced. Local officials have been trained in the proper maintenance of the pipe network system.
The installation of new pumping and treatment equipment in al Shuhada brought the station to full capacity. Now, over 15,000 people have regular access to treated water.
The repairs represent major steps in renovating the city's collapsed water infrastructure. Neglect and violence had destroyed major building facilities and left some pumping stations operating below 20 percent capacity. The return of 90% of displaced residents added severe strain to the surviving local infrastructure and threatening a health crisis.

Iraq's water resources minister, Latif Rashid (http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=10&categ_id=3&article_id=17956), speaks about the legacy of decades of neglect, the current challenges and prospects for the future.

In electricity news, several projects (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/Electricity+projects+to+provide+service+for+Iraqi+ businesses%2C+homes__1111459.html?PHPSESSID=af9736 1ee4e99194f8af50717fa3f31b) currently under way will soon benefit residents around the country:

A $13 million electrical distribution project in Sadr City began recently. When complete, an estimated 128,000 people will have a reliable source of electricity. The project includes installation of power lines, 3,040 power poles, 80 transformers, 2,400 street lights and power connections to individual homes, complete with meters.

Construction started on the $3.8 million Al Rayash Electricity Substation project in Al Daur District of Salah Ad Din Province, located between Tikrit and Bayji. The project, which is expected to be completed in early December, aims to provide reliable service to 50,000 Iraqi homes and small businesses. An electric distribution and street lighting project in Daquq was completed on August 17, providing new overhead distribution lines and street lighting in the community.

And in agriculture, USAID is helping to revive beekeeping (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/KHII-6FX7PJ?OpenDocument&rc=3&cc=irq) and at the same time helping those most in need:

USAID trained 183 Iraqis in beekeeping basics in an effort to help vulnerable groups gain a sustainable income. Participants included 44 widows, 79 poor farmers, and 41 people with disabilities. The relatively inexpensive costs of maintaining an apiary and the sustainable income produced from its products makes beekeeping an ideal income generator for populations with few options. The grant will also provide the necessary equipment to establish apiaries.

September 21st, 2005, 09:08 PM
Humanitarian aid.

The recent bridge disaster generated a lot of foreign and local assistance for the survivors and victims' families. Kuwaiti authorities have donated 12 tons (http://www.kuna.net.kw/home/story.aspx?Language=en&DSNO=765955) of emergency medical supplies, as well as $10 million (http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2005-09/05/content_3443398.htm). The United Nations (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/SODA-6FX2XE?OpenDocument&rc=3&cc=irq) provided emergency grant packages and medical supplies, and the World Health Organization (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/HMYT-6FULD6?OpenDocument&rc=3&cc=irq) gave drugs, medical supplies and counseling support.

USAID is helping those most in need (http://www.reliefweb.int/library/documents/2005/usaid-irq-25aug.pdf) throughout Iraq (link in PDF):

USAID's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) is implementing a project in Fallujah to assist the residents of the Al Jubail neighborhood. . . . As of August 15, OFDA has distributed 520 tents, 1,040 blankets and mattresses and 520 kerosene lamps and water tanks in the Al Jubail neighborhood. The installation of latrines is on-going. . . .

In coordination with an Iraqi NGO, OFDA is implementing a project to support 1,000 farming families in 29 Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) returnee villages around Kirkuk. Through this project, 750 hectares of land has been prepared for summer vegetable planting. The project also includes the provision of seeds, spare parts for tractors, extension services and advice to the farmers. . . .

With the support of an Iraqi NGO and OFDA, 300 children from various neighborhoods in Kirkuk city participated in a one month series of activities to explore the issues of diversity, participation and communication through activities such as games, drawing and writing stories. . . . OFDA representatives recently completed a 16 week public health campaign targeting more than 100 villages populated by 2003 conflict IDP returnees in Arbil Governorate.

The situation of the disabled (http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2005-09-01-iraq-disabled_x.htm?csp=34) is improving throughout Iraq:

Before the war, people with disabilities in Iraq were often cared for at home. Government-run facilities were run down and understaffed. Families had little confidence in them.

Over the past couple of years, new equipment and better training have changed that. "Families are becoming more aware of the importance of developing skills of the handicapped to enable them to be an active part of society," says Layla Kadhum Aziz, a Labor and Social Affairs Ministry official.

After suffering under years of sanctions and war, schools that help people with disabilities have access to modern equipment from abroad and better training.

Students at the Al-Amal Institute, a school for deaf and mute people in Baghdad, learn on new computers provided by the Japanese government. The teachers have better training.

Students are provided transportation from their homes to the school, which has 208 registered students and 24 teachers. Before the war, families were responsible for transportation. Students are drilled through basic math and writing problems and use computer workshops to improve communication skills.

An American charity is helping Iraqi schoolchildren (http://www.abc27.com/news/stories/0805/255165.html):

As children in the United States go back to school, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is preparing a shipment of school supplies for children in Iraq.

Staff at MCC's Material Resources Center in Ephrata will be loading a container with school kits on Monday, Aug. 29. A total of 24,000 school kits will be shipped to Iraq in two containers.

School kits are colorful cloth bags containing notebooks, a ruler and an eraser, along with regular and colored pencils. MCC is currently seeking donations of school kits for children in Sudan, Honduras, Jordan, Zambia and other countries. MCC shipped more than 90,000 school kits to 13 countries last year. MCC's shipment to Iraq also includes 4,200 relief kits, which contain basic hygiene items. Relief kits will be distributed to Iraqis who have been displaced by urban warfare, and school kits will be distributed to children in low-income neighborhoods of Baghdad. The total value of the shipment is $360,000 U.S. Information on donating school kits, relief kits and other items can be found at www.mcc.org/kits (http://www.mcc.org/respond/kits/).

Meanwhile, a consortium of church charities, Action by Churches Together International (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/ACIO-6FTQSD?OpenDocument&rc=3&cc=irq), is also helping with a variety of projects throughout Iraq:

ACT members, the International Orthodox Charities (IOCC), the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) and the Norwegian Church Aid (NCA), have been responding to this emergency during the last two years with the support of the ACT Alliance. IOCC is proposing to continue supporting the Iraqi population in rehabilitation and furnishing of schools and institutions for orphan and handicapped children; vocational training for youngsters and distribution of essential food; and hygiene items. MECC is proposing to continue providing food and non food assistance to the Iraqi war refugees located in the Ruwayshed camp in Jordan; and NCA is proposing to continue supporting small infrastructure and water and sanitation projects. In spite of the security situation, IOCC and NCA have been able to continue working inside Iraq. They have established offices in the country, operating with Iraqi staff that are supported and monitored by regional offices located in neighbouring countries.

A Wisconsin (http://www.wisconsinagconnection.com/story-national.cfm?Id=894&yr=2005) agricultural company is helping troops in Iraq help the local farmers:

With all of the destruction in Iraq, Garst Seed Company, through its donation of corn seed, hopes to plant seeds of growth by assisting U.S. armed forces in an important humanitarian effort through the Amber Waves mission.

Amber Waves began in January 2005, with the 3,500 members of the 155th Brigade Combat Team. Its mission is to establish peace and restore the Iraqi economy by building schools and aiding Iraqi farmers. Amber Waves introduces new methods for raising animals and crops, the biggest source of income for Iraqi farmers.

"As a civilian high school agriculture teacher and a farmer, I understand what these farmers are feeling. They are great people and only want to raise crops and livestock to make a living and provide for their families," says 155 BCT Agriculture Officer, Capt. Jesse J. Cornelius. Kevin Coey, founder of Farmers Independent Research of Seed Technologies (F.I.R.S.T.), read about the request for crop seeds from Capt. Cornelius in a magazine article. Coey thought that the F.I.R.S.T. program, which is an organization of farmers who evaluate seed products, could assist Iraqi farmers for growing seasons to come.

A soldier from New York state is getting his community to help bring soccer (http://www.wroctv.com/news/story.asp?id=19610&r=l) to Iraqi children:

A soldier from Fairport serving in Iraq is spearheading a new youth soccer team in that country. Army Captain John Agnello hopes to reach kids there through the universal language of sport.

140 boxes of soccer equipment are making their way from Western New York to the Middle East for an Iraqi youth soccer program. The donation from Dick's Sporting Goods was coordinated by Captain John Agnello. The field artillery officer from Fairport New York, who is now stationed in Baghdad and spoke to us by phone.

"We're working with this gentleman named Amu Babba who is the, they call him the Pele of Iraq. He started a soccer league, youth soccer league that is going to be linked directly to the Olympic team in the future."

The league will involve several hundred kids, boys and girls ages 10 to 18. These kits contain soccer balls, cones, a clipboard and jerseys. Pretty much everything a coach or team would need to get a program up and running.

Along with donating the equipment, Dick's is paying for shipping. The army recruiting company in Amherst is working with the post office to get the equipment packed up and sent off.

"I think this will mean a lot. It's a very poor country and this gives the children an out you know, something other than violence," says Captain Shane Moyer, the Army Recruiting Company Commander. "The president always says you know it's easy to win the war but it's hard to win the Peace and maybe this might help," says Doug Rifenburg, Dick's community marketing coordinator.

People from Michigan (http://www.mlive.com/news/sanews/index.ssf?/base/news-16/1125066071103680.xml&coll=9) are similarly donating sports items:

Operation Freedom Goal has sent more than 1,000 pieces of sports equipment to Iraq from mid-Michigan, officials say.

State Rep. Roger N. Kahn's drive to donate soccer balls, footballs, basketballs and baseballs, among other sports equipment, to the Middle Eastern nation scored with area residents, his office said.

The summer drive sent the goods in four shipments to Michigan-based soldiers to distribute to Iraqi children. . . . Kahn said he started the collection drive when U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey J. Allen, a military police officer from Beaverton in Iraq, asked Kahn for help to bring sports equipment to the Persian Gulf nation.

New York state scouts (http://www.nyjournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050825/NEWS03/508250350/1019/NEWS03) are also helping:

As Rockland [County] students are preparing their notebooks and pencils for the upcoming school year, so are some Iraqi students thanks to donated school supplies from local Scouts. School supplies that Junior Girl Scouts from a Pearl River troop sent to Iraq with Pearl River native Lt. John Reynolds of the Army's 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment, were recently distributed to Iraqi children.

September 21st, 2005, 09:09 PM
Coalition troops.
To get some idea just exactly what the troops are doing in Iraq besides trying to provide security, read this profile of Col. Larry McCallister (http://www.centcom.mil/CENTCOMNews/Stories/08_05/33.htm) and the reconstruction work that the U.S. Corps of Engineers, Gulf Region South is doing under his command:

One could say Larry McCallister was a cattleman from just outside of Houston down Texas way, and they would be somewhat correct. But then again a person would be much more accurate in saying that he grew up on his parent's farm where they raised beef cattle in Texas County outside of Houston, Missouri.

An individual could also say that as a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Colonel, he is the quintessential, military professional. In that they'd be right on target.

This slender, physically fit, 49 year old Soldier heads the U.S. Corps of Engineers, Gulf Region South (USACE-GRS) out of Camp Adder on what was once called Tallil Air Force Base in Iraq. His responsibilities are massive; the accomplishments of his team are huge.

His native State's reputation for spawning those of dogged determination and hard work, such as President Harry Truman, could not be more appropriate. His is one with well honed skills and a determined drive who capably leads his team in a wide array of Iraqi reconstruction projects.

In not much over a one-year period, the Gulf Region South (GRS) team has completed new or rehabilitation efforts on 309 of 355 schools, are presently working on 60 medical clinics with another 21 projected, and have completed three hospitals while laboring on nine more. In addition to those efforts, they have completed six of 45 oil related projects, 23 of 64 border forts, four of 12 courthouses or prisons, seven of 16 Iraqi military projects, 19 of 29 fire stations and 121 of 198 police stations. . . . They are also working on four airports, three bridges, have completed three of seven port projects and have finished 3,767 miles of roads. In the pool of water projects, they have finished one of two irrigation efforts, a wastewater treatment facility, 22 of 25 water distribution projects and 26 of 28 water treatment plants.

The troops have succeeded in turning Baghdad's Sadr City (http://news.yahoo.com/s/latimests/20050907/ts_latimes/sadrcitysuccessstory) into an oasis of peace and quiet:

Crammed into armored Humvees heaving with weapons, Lt. Col. S. Jamie Gayton and his soldiers were greeted by a surprising sight as they rolled into one of Baghdad's poorest neighborhoods.

Men stood and waved. Women smiled. Children flashed thumbs-up signs as the convoy rumbled across the potholed streets of Sadr City.

It was a far more welcoming scene than the urban war zone of a year ago, when U.S. troops and black-clad guerrilla fighters battled in the narrow alleys of the squalid slum.

"We're making a huge impact," Gayton said as his men pulled up to a sewer station newly repaired with U.S. funds. "It has been incredibly safe, incredibly quiet and incredibly secure."

Sadr City has become one of the rare success stories of the U.S. reconstruction effort, say local residents, Iraqi and U.S. officials. Although vast swaths remain blighted, the neighborhood of 2 million mostly impoverished Shiites is one of the calmest in Baghdad. One U.S. soldier has been killed and one car bomb detonated in the last year, the military says. The improvements are the result of an intense effort in the wake of the street battles last August with fighters loyal to anti-American cleric Muqtada Sadr. Within a month, U.S. officials decided to make Sadr City a showcase for rebuilding, and increased spending to $805 million in a neighborhood long neglected under Saddam Hussein.

Read the rest of this very long and informative article, including these lessons:

Unlike elsewhere in Iraq, where the reconstruction fell under the purview of a hodgepodge of U.S. civilian agencies, the American military provided sustained, focused leadership in a limited geographic area. That focus provided the oversight needed to coordinate the military's efforts with those of the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Pentagon's Project and Contracting Office, the primary reconstruction agencies.

The rebuilding also held more immediate significance among mid-level commanders in the field than among higher-level Pentagon officials preoccupied with fighting the war. The field officers focused on short-term, high-visibility projects such as cleaning up trash and digging wells, instead of massive new water treatment plants or power stations that take years to build. They also hired local Iraqi contractors, who in turn employed many of the militia members who had once battled U.S. troops. Finally, unlike the U.S. multinationals contracted to build large infrastructure projects, the military did not have to rely on expensive security contractors for protection. That enabled soldiers to more easily communicate with Iraqis, monitor progress and overcome problems.

The troops are also helping to improve the city of Baqubah (http://www.blackanthem.com/TheAllies/2005082601.html):

Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 10th Field Artillery Regiment are helping to bring fresh drinking water, consistent electricity, paved roads, and sewage systems to the city of Baqubah and its suburbs.

Working with Iraqi officials in the Diyala Province, Task Force Liberty Soldiers are planning and producing projects that will improve the Iraqi peoples way of life. "We're really focusing in on high impact projects, "said Capt. Neil Orechiwsky, civil-military operations officer of Task Force 1-10 and a native of Philadelphia. "Things like water projects that will impact tens of thousands of Iraqis that have never have fresh water in generations, sewage projects where there has never been sewage before because typically you'll see sewage running through the streets. We've got plans to address sewage in every major district through out the city, fresh water filtration plants, electrical substations things that are going to affect a lot of people over a large amount of area."

The military will also be helping to ensure the long-term water supply (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/%242+million+Sweetwater+Canal+upgrade+to+benefit+t wo+million+Iraqis__1111463.html?PHPSESSID=af97361e e4e99194f8af50717fa3f31b) for people in and around Basra:

According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), two million Iraqi citizens in Basra and the surrounding area will have a constant and reliable source of water when the Basra Sweetwater Canal (SWC) system upgrade is complete.

Two million dollars of the Iraq Reconstruction Program's $18.4 billion was released this week to purchase electrical equipment for Pump Station Two, to include breakers, a mobile substation, switchgear, wire and towers to provide permanent power to Pump Station Two. All materials are scheduled for full delivery by May 2006.

Pump Station One currently has permanent power, as well as back-up generator capabilities.

USACE describes the Sweetwater Canal-also known as the Um Qasr-as a 238 km [148-mile] man-made canal that begins in Ash Shatrah, 60 km [37 miles] north of An Nasiriya on the Gharraf River, and runs to slightly west of Basra.

The canal "was constructed under difficult conditions with limited resources more than a decade ago. Although originally designed to be fully concrete lined, due to lack of funds and construction materials at the time of construction, 40 percent of the canal is partially unlined and structurally unstable, resulting in leakage, bank collapse, breaches and other issues," USACE Gulf Region Division's LuAnne Fantasia reported. A second contract will be advertised and awarded to a local Iraqi contractor for construction and installation of the permanent power system for Pump Station Two, with the USACE providing quality assurance oversight.

Read also this story of Barry Stuard and Michael Osborne (http://www.centcom.mil/CENTCOMNews/Stories/09_05/4.htm) from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Gulf Region South's Diwaniyah Residence Office, who are working as project engineers to assure the quality of construction on sites.

The troops continue work on the large Najaf Teaching Hospital (http://www.blackanthem.com/TheAllies/2005082604.html) project: Phase III of the $10 million Najaf Teaching Hospital project began this week with a symbolic "ground-breaking" ceremony on the second floor of the hospital. This phase of the project includes civil, mechanical, electrical and plumbing rehabilitation throughout the facility. The contract also includes a physicians' residence building, sewer treatment plant, a morgue, storage and garages, and remodeling of the main entrance to the hospital.

The troops also continue to support Iraqi schools (http://www.blackanthem.com/TheAllies/2005082604.html): Five hundred children in a community west of Al Hillah will start school in a newly renovated school, thanks also to the Coalition forces in the Central-South Division, who finished work on the Abu Gharaq School this week. Other Coalition forces built a playground Aug. 19 for the children of the Tesin Orphanage in Kirkuk. Soldiers built the playground out of discarded auto parts, welding the various parts together. Coalition civil affairs Soldiers spent a busy day with the local leaders, delivering school supplies and then assessing the Musala and Al Sader Primary Schools. Six school construction and renovation projects were started this week, while two others in Dahuk Province were completed.

There are other projects (http://www.centcom.mil/CENTCOMNews/Stories/09_05/2.htm) in the pipeline, by the army engineers:

The Corps' Gulf Region South District (GRS), led by Col. Larry McCallister, is a prime example of the focused, community-by-community effort helping provide better environs in which these children may learn the Iraqi equivalent of "the three Rs: readin', 'ritin', and 'rithmatic." In Arabic, the equivalent is "ekra, ektom, and hesab."

The variety of work being done on these schools varies from project to project. The actual determination of how much will be done is made by the local Provincial Regional Development Councils. In some cases, it may be a $24,000 rehabilitation project of adding two rooms and upgrading or building a new toilet as are being done at the Saniyah School for Girls and at the school of Shahama.

As in the Diwaniyah neighborhood of Thalthah, it may be a totally new facility of nine rooms and a rest room facility costing $93,000. In many cases, however, it seems not nearly enough. Having been so stated, Barry Stuard, construction representative, and Michael Osborne, project engineer, both of the Diwaniyah Resident Office, recognize anything is better than what typically existed. McAllister affirms this sentiment saying, "Yes, there is so much more that we wish we could do but, tragically, virtually all manners of this country's infrastructure have been unattended for nearly three decades. As generous and giving as the U.S. and its Coalition partners are, there is only so much that can be done at this point.

There are also humanitarian missions (http://www.blackanthem.com/TheAllies/2005082604.html):

As part of a Coalition and Iraqi stability-and-support operation, several truckloads of humanitarian assistance rolled out from a forward operating base in southern Baghdad to provide Horajeb residents with basic food items, medical supplies, and recreational items Aug. 17. Toys and soccer balls were donated by friends and family members of the U.S. forces. The mayor of Muqdadiyah, Coalition forces and Iraqi Soldiers delivered critical medical supplies to the Muqdadiyah Women and Children's Hospital.

And this one (http://www.blackanthem.com/TheAllies/2005090701.html):

Iraqi Army and U.S. Soldiers from Task Force Baghdad recently teamed up to bring medical care to residents of the Abu Ghraib district in west Baghdad.

Even as the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division prepares to take over operations from the 256th Brigade Combat Team, they hit the ground running with a humanitarian mission.

Led by the Iraqi Army, the mission provided food and medical aid to Iraqi citizens in the most impoverished area of Abu Ghraib. Soldiers from 1st Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment and brigade civil affairs along with medical staff handed out toys and school supplies to children. . . .

A normal mission like this sees about 150 to 300 people in a few hours. However, this particular mission was a huge success, said 1st Lt. Aaron Ashoff, 1/11th ACR civil affairs officer. "We saw and treated over 500 people today, making this mission a success in every sense of the word. To our knowledge, this is the largest number our brigade has seen to date," said Ashoff, of Pittsburgh.

The Air Force has made one life-saving trip (http://www.centcom.mil/CENTCOMNews/Stories/08_05/29.htm) easier:

Although Baher, 8, looks like a happy, healthy boy on the outside, the joint Iraqi and U.S. Air Force C-130 aircrew, who gave him the ride of his life Aug. 22, knows he isn't healthy--at least for now.

Baher and his mother, Afaf, are headed to New Orleans, La., to repair a hole in his heart via a new program called Operation Mend a Heart.

"I was very happy to (be a part of the aircrew to) help him," said Iraqi Air Force Navigator Atiya, Squadron 23 (Transport), whose name is protected.

Atiya was one the C-130 crewmembers who flew Baher from Baghdad International Airport to Basrah Air Station on the first leg of his journey.

He has reason to sympathize.

"I have three boys myself," said Atiya, who held Baher on his lap to show him the airplane's control panel. "They're 11, 10 and 5." From Basrah, Humanitarian Operation Center (Kuwait) Army Civil Affairs were waiting to whisk the family to Kuwait to pick up the proper visas and paperwork.

Here's the recent contribution from three allies (http://www.blackanthem.com/TheAllies/2005082604.html):

The 5th Infantry Battalion of the Bulgarian Army trained Iraqi Army Soldiers in engineering and medical responses, and held a live-fire exercise this week. Medics from the Bulgarian contingent also provided regular assistance to local citizens who needed medical treatment.

Ukrainian military advisers and instructors completed training for the 3rd Battalion of 3rd Infantry Brigade of the Iraqi Army, which will take control from the Ukrainians in the Wassit Province next month. Currently, ISF are manning joint-security checkpoints and conducting patrols with the Ukrainian troops. A new Salvadoran contingent started its duty in the central-south region of Iraq on Aug. 20. The 380 soldiers, stationed at Al Hillah, will focus on civil-military cooperation, humanitarian assistance and training and advising the ISF. The last rotation of Salvadoran soldiers organized and conducted 85 projects to help Iraqi people, including water supply and sewage systems, education, health care, public security and transportation.

Here's how one Salvadoran (http://www.leadingthecharge.com/stories/news-0064458.html) soldier remembers his mission:

It was dangerous at times, as servicemen fired their guns in the air to warn against possible attacks.

But for at least one Salvadoran soldier - whose countrymen are the only Latin American soldiers left in Iraq - the six months he spent helping to build schools, drinking-water systems and clinics in Iraq were worth the time away from his family.

"The public works projects benefit humble Iraqis, among them children, and that was really gratifying and kept us from questioning our mission," he said.

"There is still so much need, so much work to do," Rivera said, adding he was glad a fresh batch of soldiers sent to replace him and others would continue the work on rebuilding bridges, roads and public buildings.

He returned to El Salvador on Wednesday, and the rest of his group arrives Friday. He said the other troops shared his belief that it was important to help rebuild Iraq, and they ignored international criticism that it was time for them to pull out of the country.

And this Australian (http://www.themercury.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5936,16417585%255E3462,00.html) Air Force Reservist and a doctor remembers his time spent on a military base in Balad:

"About two thirds of patients were troops or Iraqi army or police and about one third were local civilians.

"People would also bring us their very sick children because . . . we had a high-level medical facility. The local health system does its best in very difficult circumstances. "I went away with a very high regard for local people. More than 95 per cent are making the best of a bad situation. They just want to get on with their lives and not have ongoing conflict."

The Czechs (http://www.adnki.com/index_2Level.php?cat=Security&loid=8.0.202444064&par=0), meanwhile, have been helping to train Iraqi police:

Four Slovak police officers returned on Tuesday from Jordan where they have been training Iraqi colleagues, part of Slovakia's contribution to war-ravaged Iraq's reconstruction. According to Slovak interior minister Vladimir Palko, the training took place at the international police training centre near Jordan's capital Amman, where the United States set up a training team with Britain and Slovakia. To avoid sensitive issues the Slovak police officers did not speak with their trainees about religion, culture and the political situation in Iraq, the head of the Slovak police contingent operating in Jordan, Stanislav Vanco, said. In the next two years the progamme [sic] is set to train 31,000 Iraqi police officers.

Here's a good report about the Estonian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,1561815,00.html) contingent, which patrols the Abu Ghraib district.

September 21st, 2005, 09:11 PM

The security situation throughout the country is not as clear-cut--that is to say, not as bad--as the general tenor of the media coverage would suggest. In western Iraq, for example, Sunnis loyal to the government battle al Qaeda supporters (http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/KHA743074.htm):

Two Sunni Arab tribes, one loyal to al Qaeda and the other to the government, clashed in western Iraq, killing at least 20 people and wounding scores, clerics and hospital officials in the town said on Saturday.

The tribes fought months ago and violent confrontations erupted again on Friday and Saturday near Qaim, where U.S. Marines launched several offensives to root out insurgents from May to July.

Clerics in the town say members of the Karabilah tribe--allied to al Qaeda--attacked homes of the rival Albu-Mehel tribe--many of whom are members of Iraq's new security forces in their province of Anbar. Witnesses from the town said the tribes were involved in intense firefights and mortar attacks in the streets. The U.S military confirmed that two tribes were fighting but had no information on casualties.

With American support (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/30/AR2005083000735.html):

U.S. warplanes bombed alleged safe houses of Abu Musab Zarqawi's fighters near the Syrian border Tuesday in one of the strongest uses of air power in months, backing what leaders of one Sunni Arab tribe described as an unprecedented tribal push to drive out Zarqawi's forces. . . .

The clashes between Sunni Arab tribes and insurgents, coupled with growing vows from Iraq's Sunni minority to turn out in force for upcoming national elections, in a small and localized way meet one of the strongest U.S. hopes for defusing the insurgency. U.S. military leaders have repeatedly expressed the hope that public anger at insurgent violence would deprive insurgents of their Sunni base of support, and that the disaffected Sunni minority would look instead to the political process to defend their rights.

A tribal leader near the Syrian border, Sheikh Muhammed Mahallawi, said his Albu Mahal tribe opened the latest fighting against Zarqawi's insurgents after the foreign-led militants kidnapped and killed 31 members of his tribe to punish them for joining Iraqi security forces.

"We decided--either we force them out of the city or we kill them," with the support of U.S. bombing, Mahallawi said by telephone. . . .

Tribes in the Anbar province region have clashed sporadically with Zarqawi's fighters at least since May, usually in revenge for Zarqawi killings of tribal members seen as collaborating with U.S. forces or the Iraqi government. In Ramadi, the capital of Anbar, tribes earlier this month took up arms to block Zarqawi's movement from enforcing his ultimatum for all Shiite Muslim families to leave the city. Fighting there killed several fighters on both sides. An Iraqi commander in Zarqawi's group, al-Qaida in Iraq, said Monday that the group had dropped the ultimatum so as to keep Ramadi as a base for his fighters.

Meanwhile, calm descends on Diyala valley (http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0830/p01s04-woiq.html):

In the fertile "bread basket" of central Iraq's Diyala valley, roadside-bomb attacks have nearly stopped.

This ethnically complex patchwork of towns, villages, fields, and orchards, which US commanders call a "little Iraq," has seen its share of insurgent activity since 2003. But nowadays, the local Sunni Arabs appear inclined to climb aboard the US-backed political process, rather than trying to derail it through violence.

The relative peace in the breadbasket is the result of a carefully managed transition from US to Iraqi security responsibility, US and Iraqi commanders say.

While roadside-bomb attacks in July were down more than 30 percent compared to the same month last year, the drop has been especially drastic in August. The local Iraqi Army unit, the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Brigade, officially took the lead in a roughly 1,158 square-mile battle space, containing nearly 300,000 residents, on July 31.

"We're responsible for actual security, and it is going well," says the unit's commander, Col. Theya Ismail al-Tamimi, a former intelligence officer under Saddam Hussein who has gained the Americans' respect by keeping constant pressure on the insurgents. "Attacks are a fraction of what they were," says Colonel Theya, as he is known to both his own troops and the Americans. US troops recently closed down one of their forward operating bases near here, "since the area was so calm," Lt. Col. Roger Cloutier, a US battalion commander, says.

There are also important lessons (http://news.monstersandcritics.com/northamerica/article_1046807.php/At_last_a_U.S._counterinsurgency_strategy) from Qayyarah:

When Lt. Col. Bradley Becker stepped forward, it was to offer a valedictory message to a room full of Sunni and Kurdish shieks and imams gathered at Forward Operating Base Key West for a regional security meeting.

It was, in some strange way, very much like a graduation.

Becker's 2nd Battalion of the 8th Field Artillery Regiment has been in Quayyarah in northwestern Iraq for 11 months and they are preparing to hand over to a new unit from Alaska.

"I was new to this area and I thought I had come to rebuild the infrastructure and rebuild your villages," he said from the podium, an interpreter at his side. "I found myself in a fight with a very determined enemy."

In November, just a month after arriving in Iraq, Becker, along with battalion commanders across the northwest, found his troops defending against an insurgent attack that was stunning for its organization and breadth.

In two days, insurgents conducted nearly simultaneous attacks on 44 Iraqi police and army posts. Almost all of them folded, many of them with a single shot being fired.

The Iraqi police went from about 7,000 members down to 300 in two days.

The Iraqi army disintegration across the region was nearly as dramatic.

"I only had seven platoons. I thought, I can't cover this," Becker recalls.

He had a little unexpected help.

One former Ba'ath party official, a man known as Shiek Rahd, climbed to the top of his local police station and with some neighbors manned guns and drove off attackers.

Rahd is now a highly respected Iraqi army battalion commander, and an early target of insurgents. They blew his car up; he lived. A rocket-propelled grenade meant for him tore his driver's leg off; he lived. "He's the second baddest man in Iraq," smiles Becker. "I have to remind him I'm still here."

As the report notes, "across Iraq, a counter-insurgency strategy has emerged in almost organic fashion at the battalion level. Its authors say that--after two and half years of fighting--it finally seems to be yielding results."

In Mosul, one American unit is fixing potholes (http://www.estripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=31137)--and saving lives:

With a name like Task Force Ripper, the mission would seem to be some sort of bloody, covert operation that strikes fear into the hearts of enemy forces in Iraq.

The Germany-based 94th Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy) mission--named for rapid pothole repair, or RPR--does take place under the cover of night, but the purpose is to save lives, not take them.

About 10 soldiers from the battalion, along with other soldiers who provide security at the sites, go out into Mosul several times a week to rob insurgents of hiding places for roadside bombs. The battalion's companies A and B and Headquarters Support Company run the missions.

The crews patch potholes and, in some instances, craters left from roadside or car bomb blasts to prevent the same hole from being used for another bomb--a common practice among insurgents. "We've gotten some intelligence that the are not happy, because we are doing this and making their job a lot harder," said 1st Lt. Young Chun, 2nd Platoon leader, Company B, 94th Engineers.

Meanwhile, the training of Iraqi army and police to take over a greater security role continues:

In the Combat Leaders Course (http://www.blackanthem.com/TheAllies/2005082604.html) at the Diyala Regional Training Facility, Coalition Soldiers worked with their Iraqi counterparts to train soldiers from the Iraqi Army's 5th Division to be better battlefield leaders. Training during the 14-day course builds on the Iraqi soldiers' basic military knowledge and skills. Most of the instruction is performed by Iraqi cadre, and Coalition Soldiers are more supervisors, observing and instructing when needed.

The troops are also training Iraqi army medics (http://www.blackanthem.com/TheAllies/2005082301.html):

Medics with the Division Support Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division are helping train the Iraqi Army in combat medic skills.

Sgt. Matthew J. Carver and Spc. Richard J. Fourroux, combat medics with the 550th Area Support Medical Company, Brigade Troops Battalion, DSB, are leading the efforts to train new Iraqi Army recruits to be full combat medics.

Carver, who is from North Wilkesboro, N.C., and Fourroux, from Denver, are directing a five-week course that requires Iraqi medics to train to a similar standard as U.S. Army combat medics.

The first class graduated 15 medics on July 26 to add to the Iraqi fighting force.

Fourroux said his experiences in Iraq have come "around full circle."

Today, his mission is vastly different from that during his rotation in Operation Iraqi Freedom 1. When he deployed to this country for the first time, Iraqis were the enemy. Now, he is preparing them for the future security of their nation with a more stabilized force. As of July 26, the course has now shifted to the "train the trainers" phase-instructing qualified Iraqi Soldiers to teach their own forces, said Carver.

Police continue to get trained as well: "The Iraqi Police Service graduated 282 police officers (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Aug2005/20050826_2536.html) from advanced and specialty courses Aug. 25 at Iraq's Adnan Training Facility." On Sept. 1, the Adnan Training Facility graduated another 175 police officers (http://www.blackanthem.com/World/2005090206.html) in advanced and specialty courses.

Those already trained are playing an increasing security role around the country. For example, [i]Iraqi security forces will provide the primary security (http://www.blackanthem.com/World/2005090208.html) for the Oct. 15 constitutional referendum and the December elections, a U. S. commander in Baghdad, Iraq. . . . In a news briefing, Army Lt. Gen. John Vines, commander of Multinational Corps Iraq, said that because Iraqis will be mainly responsible for security, U. S. forces in the area will be increased only by about 2,000 troops for the referendum and elections.

American forces have officially handed over the control of Najaf (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050906/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq_handing_over_najaf_1) and their former base over to Iraqi army: Lt. Col. James Oliver, the U.S. commander of Forward Operating Base Hotel, handed the ceremonial keys to the installation to the new Iraqi commander, Col. Saadi Salih al-Maliky. About 1,500 Iraqi soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 1st Brigade, 8th Division marched by.

Also, "Coalition forces turned over (http://www.blackanthem.com/TheAllies/2005082604.html) Camp Zulu in As Suwayrah, Iraq, to the Iraqi Army on Aug. 21. The division's 3rd Battalion, 3rd Brigade will be permanently housed there. This is the twenty-fourth base to be turned over to the Iraqis, returning the land to the government elected by the people."

The new Iraqi air force has recently flown its first mission (http://www.billingsgazette.com/index.php?tl=1&display=rednews/2005/09/01/build/world/81-iraq-air.inc):

Iraq's nascent air force carried out its first military mission when it flew two battalions of Iraqi troops into a troubled zone in the north of the country, a U.S. military spokesman said. . . .

Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch said that three C-130 Hercules cargo planes this week redeployed troops belonging to the 2nd Iraqi Division from the Kurdish city of Irbil to Tal Afar near the country's northwestern frontier with Syria.

"This was the first use of the Iraqi air force," Lynch said. . . .

The air force is now gradually being resurrected with the help of instructors and aircraft donated by the United States, Jordan and other countries. It now has in its inventory a handful of used C-130s, along with a squadron of light reconnaissance planes and transport helicopters. Although the newly formed squadrons have been in training for the past year, they are still not fully operational.

Construction of security infrastructure continues. Police stations (http://www.blackanthem.com/TheAllies/2005082604.html) continue to be built:

Construction also started on two new police station projects in Fallujah and one in Muthanna Province. Each of the two-story facilities in Fallujah measures more than 35,000 square feet and includes a dorm area for 100 police officers, offices, a holding cell, conference room, kitchenette, armory and covered courtyards. The Al Khider Police Station construction project in Muthanna Province provided new perimeter walls, replaced roof systems, installed a 528-gallon water tank and piping for potable water storage, and restored electrical and masonry work to the existing police station in Al Khider.

In stories of security cooperation from the locals:

"Based on information provided by an informant, a drug dealer (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Aug2005/20050825_2526.html) with ties to the insurgency was captured during a U.S. raid in the Taji area on Aug. 7."
"Iraqi Police Service officers on patrol received a tip from a local citizen concerning a suspected weapons cache (http://www.blackanthem.com/TheAllies/2005082604.html) in the Zohour District of Baghdad. Police uncovered 68 mortar rounds buried in a field. The munitions were transported to Boob Al Sham Police Station. This was the second significant cache find in the same area in two days--32 mortar rounds were discovered Aug. 21."
"Iraqi army and coalition forces, working together and independently, took 19 suspected terrorists (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Aug2005/20050826_2538.html) into custody while conducting a series of combat operations in and around Baghdad on Aug. 21. Tips received from Iraqi citizens led to the detention of 12 of the 19 terror suspects."
"A local Iraqi citizen reported (http://www.blackanthem.com/TheAllies/2005090310.html) two males using a car to emplace improvised explosive devices (IEDs) here August 23. The individual gave a detailed description of the vehicle and the two individuals in it. This information allowed Coalition Forces to find and capture two suspected IED installers. Coalition Forces confiscated three 130 mm rounds and wire from the vehicle."
"Task Force Liberty Soldiers captured two known terrorists (http://www.blackanthem.com/News/2005082606.html) suspected of financing and enabling terrorist acts in North-Central Iraq in a pair of overnight raids Aug. 25 and 26. The first suspect was detained in Ad Dwar after Soldiers received a tip he was attending a meeting there. The second terrorist was captured along with two other suspects northwest of Hawija."
"Coalition forces killed Abu Khallad, a major facilitator (http://www.blackanthem.com/TheAllies/2005082701.html) of foreign fighters and suicide bombers into northern Iraq, during operations in Mosul on Aug. 25. Multiple intelligence sources and tips from concerned citizens led multi-national forces to a location in Mosul where known foreign fighter facilitator Khallad, a Saudi national, was located. Upon arrival at that location, multi-national forces stopped his vehicle, a gunfight immediately ensued, and Khallad and an unidentified terrorist were shot and killed."
"Three North African terrorists (http://www.blackanthem.com/TheAllies/2005082803.html) were killed during security operations in northern Mosul August 27th. Tips from concerned citizens and recently acquired intelligence led Multi-National forces to the safe house where they found and killed the foreign terrorists. Abu Mujahir, Tunisian, was a facilitator of foreign fighters and foreign suicide bombers in the Mosul area. He is also alleged to have received and dispersed money from Abu Khallad to finance fighters under his control. Abu Khallad's death at the hands of Coalition forces was officially reported on August 27th. Abu Dur, Algerian, was subordinate to Abu Muhajir and helped him to direct foreign fighters as well as numerous bombing attacks in the Mosul area. Abu Uthman, Algerian, another subordinate of Abu Muhajir and a foreign fighter facilitator." More than 100 foreign terrorists have been killed or captured in the Mosul area over the past six months.
"Task Force Baghdad Soldiers detained five suspected terrorists during a routine patrol on the evening of Aug. 27. The U.S. Soldiers were assisted by local residents who pointed out an unfamiliar white sedan (http://www.centcom.mil/CENTCOMNews/News_Release.asp?NewsRelease=20050902.txt) which they said did not belong in the area. Soldiers from C Company, 295th Infantry Battalion, 48th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division cordoned off the area and searched the vehicle. Inside the car, they discovered a large weapons cache which included a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, two RPG rounds, four AK-47 rifles, a machine gun, six body-armor vests, 23 hand grenades, and other significant evidence."
In Kirkuk, "four Iraqi citizens contacted Iraqi and Coalition forces August 29 to report observing a driver of a truck use a cell phone just as an improvised explosive device was detonated. They stopped the truck (http://www.blackanthem.com/TheAllies/2005090310.html) and waited for help to arrive. These brave Iraqis received a cash reward and were recognized for their assistance."
"Multi-National Forces, acting on multiple intelligence sources and tips from concerned citizens, raided a suspected terrorist location (http://www.centcom.mil/CENTCOMNews/News_Release.asp?NewsRelease=20050905.txt) East of Al-Amiriyah, capturing several terror suspects and destroying a weapons cache on Sept. 2. During the raid, 12 suspected terrorists were detained."
Another tip on the same day led soldiers to discover a roadside bomb (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Sep2005/20050903_2611.html) near Balad.
Based on tips from locals, "Task Force Baghdad Soldiers detained seven suspected terrorists (http://www.noticias.info/asp/aspComunicados.asp?nid=95963&src=0) during an early-morning raid Sept. 2, in the western al-Rashid district of Baghdad."
Acting on a tip, soldiers rescued American hostage (http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-5262462,00.html) Roy Hallums, who has been held by his captors for ten months. He was rescued from a farmhouse some 10 miles outside Baghdad on Sept. 7.

The fight against insurgents and terrorists continues on many fronts, most often out of the media spotlight. All in two days' work (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Aug2005/20050825_2526.html) (Aug. 23 and 24):

Task Force Freedom soldiers killed several terrorists and detained four suspected terrorists in their Iraq areas of operation today and Aug. 24. . . . The soldiers, from 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment also seized explosives and other materials used to demolish an Iraqi army vehicle in eastern Mosul on Aug. 24. . . .

In Baghdad, Iraqi security forces responded to two separate incidents where police and civilians were attacked by anti-Iraq forces on Aug. 24, according to a multinational forces report. Soldiers with 4th Battalion, 1st Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, tracked and killed two of the attackers and captured another suspect, who had attacked a Baghdad police station with small-arms fire. In another incident, insurgents armed with rocket-propelled grenades attacked an Iraqi policeman and a civilian in their vehicles. Iraqi police pursued those suspects, killing one attacker. Iraqi soldiers with 1st Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 2nd Iraqi Army Division, uncovered a 152 mm artillery shell beneath a dirt mound in Mosul. In a related incident, Iraqi soldiers found 14 artillery rounds one kilometer northwest of the Kirkuk traffic circle.

And the following day (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Aug2005/20050826_2538.html) (Aug. 25):

U.S. soldiers from Task Force Liberty and Iraqi army soldiers captured six terrorists during a joint raid in Barwannah. . . . The troops also discovered two weapons caches, containing one 82 mm mortar system, 14 rocket-propelled grenades, three remote-control detonators, and two assault rifles.

Task Force Liberty and Iraqi army soldiers killed a suspected terrorist was killed and wounded and captured another when the individuals fired on the combined force. In another incident, Task Force Liberty soldiers captured two key terrorists in a pair of overnight raids Aug. 25 and today. The terrorists are suspected of financing and enabling terrorist acts in north-central Iraq. . . .

Iraqi security forces and coalition forces from Task Force Freedom Aug. 25 and today detained 16 individuals suspected of terrorist activity in western Mosul. . . .

In another raid, U.S. soldiers from 2nd Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, detained nine individuals suspected of terrorist activity at a checkpoint in Rawah.

Soldiers from 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, captured one individual suspected of terrorist activity during a raid east of Tal Afar. . . .

Soldiers with the 4th Iraqi Army Division concluded Operation Lightning Strike, which consisted of a series of cordon and search missions in Abayach, about 50 miles north of Baghdad.

Soldiers discovered the command end of a command-wired improvised explosive device and traced it back to the explosive device. The IED was a 130 mm round rigged for detonation. An explosive ordnance disposal team destroyed the IED in place. Soldiers detained one male suspect at the scene. Elsewhere, Iraqi police discovered and cleared a small cache of munitions in Tuz, 110 miles north of Baghdad. Police found three 122 mm Russian rounds, one 120 mm Russian mortar, nine 82 mm Russian mortars, one 82 mm Chinese mortar, and one rocket-propelled grenade.

Aug. 27 (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Aug2005/20050828_2552.html):

Soldiers with 3rd Battalion, 1st Brigade, 4th Iraqi Army Division, and elements of Task Force 5-7 concluded Operation War Paint Dakota, which led to the capture of five suspected insurgents. All five detainees were transported to a nearby forward operating base for questioning. . . .

Elsewhere, Iraqi army soldiers assigned to the K-1 airfield in Kirkuk discovered a cache three kilometers [two miles] northwest of Forward Operating Base Warrior. . . . Multinational forces from Task Force Freedom detained 18 suspected terrorists and seized a weapons cache in Mosul.

On the last point see here (http://www.blackanthem.com/TheAllies/2005082802.html) for more details.

In other recent security successes:

"Coalition forces rescued a hostage (http://www.blackanthem.com/TheAllies/2005082604.html) being held by terrorists, captured the kidnappers, and seized weapons from a terrorist safe-house during a cordon-and-search operation Aug. 18 in the Muthana Zayuna district of central Baghdad."
"Iraqi security forces and Task Force Baghdad soldiers captured a suspected bomb emplacer (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Aug2005/20050825_2526.html), three suspected kidnappers and six other terror suspects in a series of combat operations carried out Aug. 20."
"Multinational forces raided a suspected terrorist hideout in Ramadi Aug. 23 and captured a pair of known terrorists (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Aug2005/20050828_2552.html). Captured were Durayd Jassar Khalifah Hamud, also known as Abu Jabbar, a known terrorist leader and weapons dealer; and Ali Husayn Muhammad Jasim, also known as Khalid Nazal or Abu Umar, a known IED cell leader."
Air strikes launched on Aug. 26 in western Anbar province against an Al Qaeda safe house (http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/apmideast_story.asp?category=1107&slug=Iraq%20Airstrikes) believed to house some 50 terrorists.
Eleven suspects arrested (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Aug2005/20050828_2552.html) in Khalis on Aug. 26, and two wounded insurgents arrested in Hit near a site of a roadside bomb explosion; other explosive devices also cleared in Hit and Mosul.
"Iraqi Army forces and U.S. Soldiers detained 24 suspected terrorists (http://www.centcom.mil/CENTCOMNews/News_Release.asp?NewsRelease=20050903.txt) during a cordon and search mission southwest of Iskandariyah Aug. 29. . . . Additionally, Soldiers of the 150th Engineer Battalion, 155th Brigade Combat Team, detained 12 suspected terrorists in the village of Owesat Aug 29th."
"Multi-National Forces raided a suspected terrorist location in the Hillah area Aug. 29 and captured Ayad Adnan Away Samir, a key terrorist facilitator (http://www.noticias.info/asp/aspComunicados.asp?nid=95966&src=0) in the Fallujah area."
Several terrorists killed in three precision air strikes (http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000087&sid=aTta1xgc09Qc&refer=top_world_news) on safe houses in Husaybah and Karabilah in western Iraq, on Aug. 30.
Five Saudi nationals (http://www.sciencedaily.com/upi/?feed=TopNews&article=UPI-1-20050903-08265300-bc-iraq-saudifighters.xml) killed in clashes with American troops throughout Iraq in early September.
Thirty-two suspected terrorists (http://www.centcom.mil/CENTCOMNews/News_Release.asp?NewsRelease=20050904.txt) arrested by Multi-National Forces from Task Force Freedom on Sept. 1 and 2 in Mosul and Tal Afar.
"Task Force Liberty Soldiers stopped an imminent ambush (http://www.centcom.mil/CENTCOMNews/News_Release.asp?NewsRelease=20050906.txt) in Ad Duluiyah Sept. 2 and detained the four would-be attackers. . . . During questioning, the detainees provided the location of four more terrorists, who were also subsequently detained, in Ad Duluiyah."
Two members of a roadside bomb cell (http://newsblaze.com/story/20050906080218nnnn.nb/newsblaze/TOPSTORY/Top-Story.html), including its leader, arrested near the town of Al Amiriyah on Sept 2.
A bomb making cache (http://www.noticias.info/asp/aspComunicados.asp?nid=95964&src=0) discovered and destroyed by soldier north of the Operating Base Kelsu on Sept 4.
"Iraqi security forces and Task Force Baghdad Soldiers detained more than 50 terror suspects (http://newsblaze.com/story/20050908003135nnnn.nb/newsblaze/TOPSTORY/Top-Story.html) on the evening of Sept. 4 and in the early-morning hours of Sept. 5 in Baghdad."
"Iraqi security forces supported by coalition forces conducted a joint search for known terrorists in Dali Abbas Sept. 5 and detained five suspects (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Sep2005/20050906_2623.html)." Weapons and explosives were also found. Two roadside bombs were also defused on the same day in the Hit area, and 11 suspects arrested in northern Iraq.
"Task Force Liberty Soldiers detained six terrorists suspected of carrying out a mortar attack (http://www.blackanthem.com/News/2005090511.html) against a Coalition base near Balad at about 5 a.m. Sept. 5. Eleven terrorists were killed when the task force responded to the attack. Four of those eventually detained were wounded in the counter attack. Troops located two groups of attackers with a Coalition unmanned aerial vehicle and engaged them. The UAV was also used to track the wounded, who were observed being loaded into two vehicles at one of the mortar sites."
Three foreign fighters arrested and two others killed during a raid on a foreign fighter safe house (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Sep2005/20050906_2623.html) in the Karabilah area on Sept. 5.
"Coalition forces conducted an air strike against an al Qaeda terrorist safe house (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Sep2005/20050907_2641.html) in the western city of Jaramil Sept 7, further disrupting terrorist sanctuaries and activities in Iraq. Abu Ali, a senior al Qaeda facilitator of foreign fighters, was believed to be in the house at the time of the strike. Ali has been linked to other al Qaeda terrorists and facilitators in the Hit, al Qaim, Karabilah and Husaybah. Additionally, he had al Qaeda connections in the Mosul area, to include Abu Talha, who was captured in June, and Abu Khallad, who was killed in August."
On Sept. 7, "a joint U.S.-Iraqi force punched deep into Tal Afar, a key insurgent staging ground near the Syrian border, and the Iraqi army said Thursday it arrested 200 suspected militants (http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-5264710,00.html) in the sweep--three-fourths of them foreign fighters."

October 7th, 2005, 10:14 AM
A new round of news.

<LI>An Iraqi court handed down a life sentence (http://www.swisspolitics.org/en/news/index.php?section=int&page=news_inhalt&news_id=6098004) against a nephew of Saddam Hussein after convicting him on charges of financing insurgents and possession of bombs.

An Iraqi court has sentenced a nephew of toppled president Saddam Hussein to life in prison on charges of financing insurgents and possession of bombs, a government statement said on Monday. The statement said that Ayman Sabawi, son of Saddam's half brother, Sabawi Ibrahim al-Tikriti, who was also a senior member of the ousted regime, faces another hearing and possibly an even stiffer sentence over new charges that emerged during his trial. ...

The statement said Ayman's life term was an initial sentence and that a second hearing would be held on November 1 "as a result of what was revealed in the court from confessions on other criminal acts made by Ayman Sabawi." <LI>The Iraqi Union of journalists has been welcomed back (http://www.kuna.net.kw/home/story.aspx?Language=en&DSNO=771698) as an active member in the Arab Press Federation:

Head of the delegation of Kuwait Journalists' Association Faisal al-Qenaei welcomed on Wednesday the return of the Iraqi Union of journalists as an active member in the Arab Press Federation (APF). ... Dean of the Iraqi Union of Journalists, Shehab al-Tamimi, expressed to KUNA his delight at rejoining the APF membership and underscored the fact that journalists in Iraq faced insurmountable hurdles at this time of domestic crisis. Iraqi journalists, he stated, were in need of not only moral but material support from their Arab colleagues. <LI>The headline (http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2005-09-23-iraq-film-festival_x.htm) says is all:

Plenty of inspiration at Iraq Short Film Festival BAGHDAD — The dusty streets and bare-bulbed restaurants don't compare with the glitz of Cannes. And its entire budget couldn't buy some Hollywood gowns. But starting Saturday, filmmakers here are competing in their own, first-ever Iraq Short Film Festival.

About 120 directors submitted 136 films, ranging in length from less than five minutes to about half an hour, says Nizar Al-Rawi, the festival chairman. That's 10 times as many as he expected. ... The fall of Saddam Hussein's regime and the subsequent turmoil of the country have helped free and inspire the cinematic arts, he says. There are dramas, documentaries and even animated shorts among the 58 entries that cleared an initial winnowing.<LI>Arabic language Iraq al-Ghad reports that voter registration is up to 70% in Fallujah:

The city of Fallujah, part of the Ramadi province (100km west of Baghdad), announced that 70% of its eligible residence have registered to vote in the new constitutional vote, and the general election to follow. Abdul Sattar Al-Jumaily, a Fallujah city council member announced in a press conference in Fallujah, that the city witnessed a large turn out at the voter registrations stations, we had 70% of eligible voters register. This shows that the city is preparing for the constitutional & the following general elections. Initially we only had four voter registration stations, then (due to overwhelming turn out) each station expanded to four more stations in areas all over Fallujah.<LI>A new opera house (http://www.almendhar.com/english_6493/news.aspx)is being built near Bagdhad. When completed it will be the largest in the Middle East:

It would be one of the biggest opera houses established in the Middle East. Engineer Maysun Al Damluji, chief deputy minister, said that the project would be included within the ministry budget for 2006. The execution of this project would be in participation with several local, Arab and international companies.

October 7th, 2005, 10:15 AM

A new hospital (http://www.azzaman.com/english/index.asp?fname=news2005-09-0810512.htm) is being built in Fallujah:

The government has allocated $46 million for the construction of a new hospital in the war-ravaged city of Falluja. Minister of Industry and Minerals Asama al-Najafi has laid the foundation stone for the 200-bed hospital.

"The building of this hospital has a lot of symbolic significance because it is being implemented in a city that has suffered a lot of oppression and tyranny," Najafi said, without elaborating.The minister also promised other projects, among them a $20 million housing complex with 504 flats.

Reconstruction highlights for the week ended Sept. 12th, courtesy of USAID (http://www.usaid.gov/iraq/) and Winds of Change.NET's Monday Iraq Report (http://www.windsofchange.net/archives/007513.php): A seminar was recently held in Baghdad for 175 business people from 10 business associations on World Trade Organization (WTO) membership and what it would mean to Iraq and its business community. USAID’s Agriculture Reconstruction and Development for Iraq (ARDI) program is assisting the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) to restore hybrid maize, which provides increased yields and better performance. USAID partners have completed training 180 volunteers from 130 local NGOs to monitor all 540 voter registration centers throughout Iraq. The Ministry of Education (MoE) and UNICEF have registered approximately 8,500 out of the targeted 10,000 children to attend school in the upcoming school year under this year’s Accelerated Learning Program (ALP), sponsored by USAID. USAID partners have helped advance the Wheat Flour Fortification (WFF) program in Iraq through advanced training and distribution of nutrient supplements. Programs are on-track to rehabilitate water and sanitation facilities in 800 Iraqi schools by the end of December this year. A local Nongovernmental Organization (NGO) and OFDA partners recently completed rehabilitation work at a major university in northern Iraq, employing 160 displaced and impoverished women in the process. A 16-week public health campaign in an Arbil Governorate sub-district has been completed after benefiting roughly 1,100 internally displaced persons (IDPs) returning to 19 villages.

Thousands of tons of munitions (http://www.blackanthem.com/World/military_2005091215.html)have been destroyed in Iraq since 2003:

In June 2003, military officials in Iraq called on the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Engineering and Support Center here is the core of expertise for ordnance and explosives, to handle an estimated 600,000 tons of captured enemy ammunition. Six self-sustaining depot sites were established to secure and demolish the munitions that were already in coalition forces' possession, Stahl said. The goal of beginning demolition from these sites by Dec. 1, 2003, was met, and to date about 406,000 tons of munitions have been destroyed through ESC and military disposal operations.

More than $51 million has been allocated (http://www.grd.usace.army.mil/news/releases/recon091105.html)to build more police stations throughout Iraq:

The Iraqi government and Coalition forces speed to complete police stations to accommodate the new police officers. To help assuage the problem, the Iraqi government, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Gulf Region South (GRS), and the Project and Contracting Office are investing more than $51 million to rehabilitate or construct 204 police stations across southern Iraq. To date, they have completed 129 and have started on 65 others.

More than $8 million has been allocated (http://www.grd.usace.army.mil/news/releases/recon3091205.html)to build a waste water treatment plant in Ramadi:

The waste water treatment plant will be capable of treating 30,000 cubic meters per day of effluent - large enough to serve both Ramadi (in excess of 200,000 people) and Tameem (with a 100,000 population) on the other side of the river.

The Mosul Dam, upon which the people of Mosul and much of Iraq's Tigris Valley agricultural sector depend, will be strengthened (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/Mosul+Dam+repairs+progress+with+safety%2C+electric ity%2C+irrigation+for+Tigris+Basins__1111475.html? PHPSESSID=b92df3041398795d3a0aefb66bbdcacd) with a $20 million grant and oversight from the Ministry of Water Resources, the Ministry of Electricity and the US Army Corps of Engineers.
The project includes an upgrade of specialized maintenance equipment, seismic monitors, materials and spare parts. A training element is included with the aid package, which USACE believes will help make the project self-sustaining in the future.

Completed in 1983, the dam has required maintenance to plug or grout areas of leakage on a regular basis. Without this needed work, the dam could develop problems over time with the possibility of a catastrophic failure. An event of this magnitude would be profound, devastating the rich agricultural valley of the Tigris and endangering the population of Mosul.

New automatic grout-injection equipment included in the project will help arrest seepage under the dam. Seismic equipment will provide information to monitor the dam’s stability. Both types of work are critical in continuing flood protection, irrigating farmland and maintaining sufficient water to generate 320 MW of electricity.

The work will be completed by an Iraqi contractor and Iraqi workers.

Iraq's transitional National Assembly approved the final draft (http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2002504678_iraq19.html) of the new constitution:

Iraq's transitional National Assembly approved the final draft of the new constitution yesterday (Sunday, 9/18) while mourning the death of an assassinated legislator. ...

The document is being forwarded to the United Nations, which will print about 5 million copies to be distributed to Iraqi citizens before the Oct. 15 national referendum in which they will vote yes or no on the document.

With the referendum less than a month away, the assembly largely becomes a lame-duck body; preparing the constitution was its primary mission, and it will dissolve within months regardless of whether the document passes.

USAID has posted (http://www.usaid.gov/iraq/updates/)its latest Iraq update, highlights include:

On September 11, USAID Mission Director Dawn Liberi and Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Ja’afari inaugurated the opening of the new 216 megawatt (MW) Baghdad South power plant. This is a new grass roots combustion gas turbine power plant, consisting of two 108 MW gas turbine generators capable of burning residual fuel oil, supplied by the nearby Doura refinery.

USAID staff met with 35 board members from Iraq’s private banks to set a strategy for the development of the banking industry and to disseminate best practice standards of international banks. The session included a briefing on the economic and monetary situation of the banking industry and its impacts for Iraq’s private banks, comparisons of Iraqi banks with operations of other banks in the Arab region, and discussions of banking products that serve the needs of customers and can produce additional revenue.

The Constitutional Awareness Program is actively reaching out to involve Sunni and Shi’a groups in the political process. In anticipation of the Oct.15th referendum, USAID partners recently met with several Sunni members of the Constitutional Committee and the National Assembly to discuss outreach programs to take place in Sunni areas over the next month.

The Internet Technology Infrastructure project at a northern Iraqi university is nearing completion. Over 100 computers have been installed and the campus-wide network is functioning. A satellite dish has also been installed, giving the entire campus high-speed Internet access. Equipment has already been sent for the final part of the project: linking the medical college and a satellite campus with wireless equipment.

Japan provides funds (http://www.alsabaah.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=11082) for the rehabilitation of Iraq's cement and chemical fertilizers factories:
The Japanese government offered a 260 m dollar loan to the Iraqi ministry of industry to support a plan for rehabilitating and improving a number of cement and chemical fertilizers factories in the country.
A source in the ministry said that 50 m will go to the Kirkuk cement factory, 50 m to the Kbaysa cement factory in Al-Anbar province while 100 m will go to the "Southern cement Co." and 60 m will be allocated to the Phosphate Company.

"The factories that were originally built by Japanese firms will be rehabilitated by Japanese firms as well in a way that ensures mutual benefit for economy and firms in both countries" said the ministry official.

The significance of this agreement comes for the fact that Iraq is witnessing increased demand on cement and other construction materials and the demand is expected to increase even more when stability and security are restored.
On the other hand, the Phosphate Company can meet a great deal of the demand on chemical fertilizers which are essential for the progress of agriculture in Iraq.
It's worth mentioning that Iraq has huge reserves of phosphate compounds in the western parts of the country which give Iraq the potential to export excess production to other countries.

MTC Atheer, one of three mobile networks in Iraq expands operations and investments (http://www.ameinfo.com/67354.html) and aims at becoming one of the largest in the Middle East by the end of the year:
The company, which currently operates the GSM network in southern Iraq and Baghdad, is rapidly expanding its infrastructure and increasing investment in the country to a total of $430 million, to meet this booming demand.

MTC Atheer launched services in southern Iraq in March 2004, and today has over 900,000 subscribers both in the South and Baghdad. As demand for mobile services in Iraq grows, MTC Atheer is increasing its investment in network infrastructure by 40% by the year-end, in order to be able to cater for an expected 1.5 million customers.

'The potential for development of the mobile services market in Iraq is much greater than initial studies suggested, and the growth so far has been huge. By the end of the year Iraq will have attracted four million mobile subscribers users in under two years, a phenomenal rate of growth,' said Al Dahwi. 'Iraq has a great opportunity to surpass most of the developing Arab states, so long as security can be achieved and development continues at a good pace.'

Iraq is making progress (http://www.heraldsun.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5478,16694761%255E1702,00.html) in attempts to increase IMF aid:

IRAQ is making progress in the main areas that need to be addressed for the violence-scarred country to receive a fresh dose of IMF aid by the end of the year, IMF chief Rodrigo Rato has said.

Mr Rato told a news conference today Iraq had to continue to make progress in improving its data and central bank transparency, and in reducing the oil subsidies contained in its budget. ...

"If we have progress in those three issues, I think we could put to the (IMF) board a stand-by agreement by the end of the year," he said.

Iraq has offered tenders (http://sg.biz.yahoo.com/050922/15/3v5ee.html) to American, Australian, and Asian countries to buy needed wheat and rice:

Iraq has tendered to buy further large amounts of U.S. and Australian hard wheat and U.S., Thai and Vietnamese rice, an official with the Iraqi Grain Board said Thursday. ...

Iraq's Trade Minister Abdul Basset Mawlood was quoted by local press as saying that Baghdad was seeking 1 million tons of hard wheat and 300,000 tons of rice. ...

Earlier this month, Iraq bought a total of 1.5 million metric tons of hard wheat from the U.S. and Australia. Baghdad also bought 350,000 metric tons of U.S. rice for delivery by the end of 2005.

Iraq needs to buy 3 million tons of wheat and 1 million tons of rice every year, according to Iraqi Trade Ministry statistics.

Electricity supplies in Baghdad have improved markedly (http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/IRIN/e56609c4462ebcc95ff4f1f5b951a603.htm):

Residents of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, have welcomed an improvement in the supply of power after nearly five months of unpredictable outages.

For a week now, the city has had more controlled outages, with power on and off every three hours. Previously power was available for just two hours daily. ..

Rehabilitation work on the power supply system has been going on since October 2003. According to the Ministry of Electricity and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), production had reached 5,389 MW in July – higher than pre-war levels.

A London banker has taken a risk and opened a new bank (http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticle.asp?xfile=data/business/2005/September/business_September507.xml&section=business&col=) in Iraq. Based on its IPO, it seems that it is being met with enthusiasm:
DUBAI - LONDON merchant banker MerchantBridge & Company Limited has launched Mansour Bank, a new commercial bank, in Iraq.

Mansour Bank, launched this week, has been initially capitalised at $38.5 million, of which 90 per cent was subscribed in majority by private Iraqi investors and 10 per cent through an IPO. The recently completed IPO was 15 times over-subscribed and since issue the shares have risen 300 per cent in "gray" market.

Ayatollah Sistani is urging his followers (http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=1151561) to vote "yes" on the constitution:
The Iraqi government's campaign to win support for the country's new constitution has won the critical backing of the most influential Shiite religious leader, less than a month before a national referendum on the draft charter. ...

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, meeting with aides Thursday in the holy city of Najaf, urged his followers to vote "yes" on the new basic law, according to two top officials in al-Sistani's organization. The officials refused to be identified because they are not authorized to speak for the reclusive cleric.

In January, millions of Shiites followed al-Sistani's call to vote in Iraq's first democratic elections in nearly half a century, and the ballot gave the Muslim sect a majority in the new parliament and government.

262 million dollars to be returned to Baghdad (http://www.alsabaah.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=11798):
American deputy Minister of Treasury, Stewart Levee said yesterday that Syria has transformed a sum of (262) million dollars. US have believes that Damascus seized this amount through deals with Iraq in violation to UN sanctions previously imposed upon Iraq.
Levee has said in a press conference that by adding this transmission the total amount of once Iraqi frozen savings that has been returned to Iraq has reached two billion dollars. These funds are going to finance the reconstruction projects in Iraq.

Australia has stepped up (http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,16766879%255E1702,00.html) their Iraq aid with new wheat imports:

Iraq will soon receive a $US300 million ($394.17 million) guarantee to finance future imports of Australian wheat, Iraqi Trade Bank head Hussein al-Uzri said. The deal will enable Australia to catch up with the United States, its main competitor for the Iraqi market, which has already extended a $US500 million ($656.94 million) guarantee to Baghdad.

Iraq constitution foes subside (http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/mld/myrtlebeachonline/news/nation/12769335.htm):

The two strongest opponents of Iraq's proposed new constitution said this week that they wouldn't campaign against it aggressively, making it likely that voters will approve the constitution in an Oct. 15 referendum. Passage would be a victory for the Bush administration's Iraq policy, but it's unclear whether the document will produce a stable Iraqi government with broad public support or further alienate the country's Sunni Muslim Arab minority.

Print shops are booming (http://www.iwpr.net/index.pl?archive/irq/irq_143_4_eng.txt) in Iraq, following years of decline, thanks to new press freedoms:

The past two years have also been a blessing for print shop owners who, since the fall of Saddam Hussein and the end of his stranglehold on the mass media, have seen their businesses flourish as Iraqis enjoy the freedom to read what they please. “The fear dispersed following the fall of the regime,” said Abdul-Kareem Salim, a 35-year-old writer.

Shops are now printing books, pamphlets and newspapers prohibited under the old government. In the old days, just asking about banned materials could have led to imprisonment or even a death sentence.

Under Saddam, the few newspapers that were published looked like “dead corpses” when readers browsed through them, according to one printer.

Today, 150 newspapers published throughout the country are feeding print-shop businesses. In Baghdad alone, there are 80 titles with a combined daily circulation of 200,000. The smallest publish 3,000-4,500 copies a day, selling for 180 dinars (around 13 US cents). The best-known and most widespread newspapers have circulations of 15,000-35,000.

Better treatment is being made available to burn victims (http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/IRIN/e5f75ed26acf45ac011f19c7c4e9e345.htm) in Baghdad:

The Iraqi Ministry of Health has announced the construction of new centres to treat burn victims in the main hospitals of the capital, Baghdad and some other governorates. ... "The new centres will be opened in all main hospitals in the country with exception of the Italian hospital, which is supported by the Italian Red Crescent Society and will offer specialised treatment for victims of insurgency attacks countrywide," Adel Mouhsen, general inspector of the ministry, said.

October 7th, 2005, 10:16 AM

Humanitarian aid is also coming FROM our country of Iraq (http://www.defendamerica.mil/articles/sep2005/a090905ms2.html). Colonel Abbas Fadhil:

"On behalf of myself and all the People of Tadji Military Base; I would like to console the American People and Government for getting this horrible disaster. So we would like to donate 1,000,000 Iraqi Dinars to help the government and the People also I would like to console all the ASTs who helped us rebuilding our country and our Army. We appreciate the American's help and support. Thank you".The soldiers aren't rich, and the amount is small compared to the destruction. But the spirit and and words mean quite a lot.

SFC Walker of Task Force Baghdad reports that West Point cadets who normally sell their textbooks back to campus bookstores donated them to help the University of Baghdad's Women's College (http://aimpoints.hq.af.mil/display.cfm?id=5981) instead. Hundreds of boxes containing thousands of textbooks were delivered by the Defense Department's Denton program for humanitarian aid transport, and on the ground by the 3rd Infantry Division.

"Our books need to be updated," said Dr. Saadi Shakir Hammoudi, Dean of the Women's College at the University of Baghdad. "For students and professors who care about us and our future, this means a lot. This will help so many departments. Our students need books on education and teaching, literature, English language, and linguistics."

Bahrain sent humanitarian aid (http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/Story.asp?Article=122988&Sn=BNEW&IssueID=28191) directly to Baghdad for the first time since the fall of Saddam Hussain:

Bahrain sent humanitarian aid worth $500,000 (BD189,000) to Iraq yesterday. Two planeloads of goods were sent to Baghdad as a gift from the people of Bahrain. The aid programme was co-ordinated by the Bahrain Red Crescent Society (BRCS). ...

The consignment included 200 tents, 2,000 food parcels, generators, medical supplies, disposable surgical aid and water.

BRCS volunteer Adel Aljar accompanied the cargo, which will be handed over in Baghdad to Iraqi Red Crescent officials.

October 7th, 2005, 10:17 AM

A sweeping anti-terror operation (http://www.news24.com/News24/World/Iraq/0,,2-10-1460_1769518,00.html)by U.S. and Iraqi troops in Tal Afar resulted in 150 terrorists being killed and over 400 arrested.
"Some 150 rebels were killed," commander Major James Gallivan, operations officer in the US Army 3rd Armoured Cavalry Regiment, which is leading the attack on the northern rebels' stronghold, said late on Monday. "A total of 407 bad guys are now held in custody... These are the ones kept for further screening," he added, pointing out that many other men were released after being temporarily detained, after finding no evidence of their involvement in the insurgency.

Al-Qaeda's "hearts and minds strategy" I (http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/iraq/2005/09/iraq-050917-voa01.htm): Even Iraq's (Sunni) Muslim Association of Scholars, which has generally supported the insurgency, appears to have a limit. Member clerics like Saleh Mahdi Abid and the group's leader Sheikh Mahmud al-Sumaidaei have issued strong criticisms after a communique attributed to insurgency leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi declared open war on the Shi'ite population, and followed that up with car bombs:

"But Sheikh Sumaidaei and other clerics say Iraqi Sunni resentment against Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his foreign fighters is growing, because the al-Qaida-linked group has repeatedly used Iraq's sectarian tension and division to try to achieve its own goal of killing all Shi'ite Muslims in the region."The declaration, and attacks, are al-Qaeda's response to Tal Afar. Meanwhile, Iraqi security forces continue to improve:

"Shortly after the bombing, Iraqi police captured a man, wearing a suicide belt, heading toward a second mosque. The bomber told the police he was from Saudi Arabia."

Iraqi civilians continue to risk their lives to provide U.S. and Iraqi troops with tips (http://newsblaze.com/story/20050912001741nnnn.nb/newsblaze/TOPSTORY/Top-Story.html):

Task Force Liberty and Iraqi Army Soldiers followed a civilian tip to a cache of artillery and mortar rounds near Jalula in Diyala Province and detained four individuals Sept. 10 at about 4:30 p.m. While Soldiers investigated the tip, an individual arrived at the cache site and began to dig. That individual was detained, and the Iraqi Soldiers detained three more suspects after searching the first detainee's house.

The cache included 29 82 mm mortar rounds, 14 122 mm artillery rounds and six 130 mm artillery rounds.

U.S. and Iraqi troops in Kalsu (http://www.centcom.mil/CENTCOMNews/News_Release.asp?NewsRelease=20050932.txt)discover a large VBIED hidden in a dump truck:

The vehicle was a blue Mercedes dump truck that, according to the police, was stolen from Fallujah over a month ago. It was discovered when the owner recognized the vehicle and notified the Iraqi Police. Items seized from the vehicle and subsequently destroyed included one 500 lb. bomb, sixteen 75 lb. propane cylinder and thirty 57 mm rounds.

For the first time since the war started, a battalion sized element of the Iraqi army conducted independent security operations (http://www.defendamerica.mil/articles/sep2005/a091105dw1.html):

The Iraqi army intelligence personnel began gathering intelligence on terrorist activity in and around the main and alternate supply routes in Tikrit, Iraq. “According to our intelligence sources, the target was a neighborhood where several old regime Iraqi army officers lived who are suspected of planting improvised explosive devices on the main supply routes,” said Iraqi army Capt. Mueen Shehan, intelligence officer, 1st Battalion, 4th Iraqi Army Division.

The operation started early in the morning and successfully ended a few hours later with no reported injuries to personnel, or damage to private property.

After the operation, all 38 Iraqi vehicles and 375 Iraqi soldiers paraded through Tikrit, showing the people they were a formidable force that could protect the people and inspire their confidence in a unit that lives in the city they operate in, Wood said.

“We wanted to show [the terrorists] who was in power,” said Dakhal.
Soldiers in Task Force Liberty seized a weapons cache (http://www.noticias.info/asp/aspComunicados.asp?nid=98812&src=0) near Muqdadiyah in Diyala Province The cache included one 60 mm mortar system, one sniper rifle, one rocket-propelled grenade launcher and the ammunition for all three weapons systems.Two suspected terrorists were caught in connection with the cache.

US troops have been using radio-controlled toy cars (http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/2005/05/remote-control-toys-used-by-iraq-patrols/index.php) to help them check for roadside bombs. In response, a bunch more MTRS TALON IV and iRobot Packbot robots are being ordered for use in Iraq & Afghanistan - and tiny MARCbots are also on the way. What the heck are these devices? Is this good news for US troops? Bad news for RadioShack? DefenseIndustryDaily.com explains & analyzes (http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/2005/09/mtrs-to-the-rescue-radioshack-replaced-updated/index.php).

Coalition forces in Mosul captured (http://www.blackanthem.com/TheAllies/military_2005092101.html) a terrorist who served as the driver for two top Al Qaeda leaders:

Coalition forces captured Abdul Ghafur Yahiyah Abdullah al Abdullah (aka Abu Nur), a known terrorist who served as a driver for two key al Qaida in Iraq leaders, in Mosul Sept. 6. Abu Nur originally worked for the Abu Musab al Zarqawi-led terrorist organization while in Tall Afar for about 10 months. He was later sent to assist with terrorist activities in Mosul by a leader within the Tall Afar-based terrorist network in early 2005. Abu Nur admitted to joining the al Qaida in Iraq terrorist network approximately 18 months ago.

An Emir of Al Qaeda in Iraq was killed (http://www.blackanthem.com/TheAllies/military_2005092102.html)in Haditha:

Coalition forces raided a terrorist safe house in the city of Haditha Sept. 18, resulting in the death of Shehab Hamed (aka Abu Ali), a known al Qaida in Iraq senior military Emir, and the capture of another terrorist. Abu Ali has been identified as the senior al Qaida in Iraq military Emir of al Qaim and was responsible for all terrorist operations in the al Qaim area, to include directing, planning and executing VBIED, IED and mortar attacks against Iraqi security and Coalition forces.

Coalition forces believe that Abu Ali recently assumed the role of regional al Qaida in Iraq military Emir responsible for all regional terrorist operations for the group in the al Qaim and Haditha areas along the Euphrates River Valley. Abu Ali recently moved from al Qaim to Haditha where he was killed.

A leader of Ansar Al Sunna was arrested (http://www.adnki.com/index_2Level.php?cat=Terrorism&loid=8.0.210579498&par=0)near Baghdad:

One of the leaders of the terror organisation, the Ansar al-Sunna Army, was recently arrested in an area south of Baghdad, an Iraqi newspaper has reported. Ahmad Khadir Shahd al-Ghariri, an Ansar al-Sunna leader operating in the Larifaya district, the so-called 'triangle of death", was picked up by Iraqi security forces, the al-Mada neswpaper said.

In response to a statement by Zarqawi, a spokesman for cleric al-Sadr called on (http://www.adnki.com/index_2Level.php?cat=Terrorism&loid=8.0.210442682&par=)Zarqawi and his followers to leave Iraq:

The Shiite spokesman went on to call on the Jordanian insurgent leader and his followers to immediately leave Iraq and stressed that "for our movement, al-Zarqawi is nothing but an enemy and if he falls into the hands of our militia he will be torn apart."

MNFs announced the arrest (http://www.kuna.net.kw/home/Story.aspx?Language=en&DSNO=772978)of 80 suspected terrorists in northern Iraq:

The Multi-National Force (MNF) on Sunday announced the arrest of more than 80 suspected terrorists and seized a number of weapons caches in northern Iraq. An MNF press release said that the Iraqi and US forces seized four weapons caches, arrested 13 suspected terrorists, killed one terrorist, and wounded two others in several operations on Friday and Sunday.

Iraq's new navy (http://www.portaliraq.com/news/Iraq's+navy+evolving+-+Central+Command+Report__1111499.html?PHPSESSID=b6 3f0ba777a46122bbdd0b5d5f948a32) is starting to take shape:

While still small, the Iraqi Navy already is integrated into maritime security operations in the northern Gulf, Nichols said, and Iraqi marines are keeping watch on Iraqi oil platforms there.

Saudi Arabia has stepped up its efforts to stop terrorists from crossing its border into Iraq. Saudi security forces have detained (http://news.webindia123.com/news/showdetails.asp?id=120368&n_date=20050925&cat=World)almost 700 in the last six months:

Saudi Arabia detained 682 people for illegally attempting to cross its borders from Iraq over the past six months, reports said Sunday. The country increased its expenditure to secure its border with Iraq from approximately $480 million in 2004 to $1.066 billion since January, Saudi daily al-Watan reported.

Thanks to security improvements, the US has been able to hand over (http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2005-09/29/content_3561204.htm) the holy Shiite city Karbala to Iraqi security forces:

The U.S. Army handed over its base in Karbala, south of Baghdad on Wednesday, giving Iraqis full control of the holy Shiite city. Karbala is the second city where security responsibilities have been transferred to the Iraqis, following a handover of another Shiite stronghold, Najaf, less than a month ago.

The U.S. commander Lieutenant Colonel James Oliver, handed an Iraqi flag to the Iraqi police commander to mark the handover.

October 7th, 2005, 10:18 AM

UPI Correspondent Pam Hess reports from Qayyarah on a successful counter-insurgency effort (http://www.spacewar.com/news/iraq-05zzw.html) by the 2nd Bn, 8th Field Artillery. Lt. Col. Becker took over a disintegrating situation and turned it around, and his comments re: the process have some surprises for everyone. Bottom line?

"There were hundreds of terrorists on my black list when I got here and I only have three left (not captured or killed)," Becker says proudly. "Of the 400 I caught, 93 percent went out to Abu Ghraib (the prison that holds the most serious offenders). That very high accuracy comes from working with shieks." After a traditional Iraqi lunch -- legs of lamb and whole chickens with rice -- the shieks and mayors alternately made last-minute requests and complaints to Becker and took pictures with him.

"I will keep a beautiful picture of you in my head," says one shiek.

"All of us are really sad you are going home. We know you have a family waiting for you, but we are all sad because we are losing a great friend," says another, a deeply religious Sunni man with the unkempt beard that marks him so. "I invite you to my house for dinner."

"I will be honored to go," says Becker.

Mosul is also a better place these days (http://michaelyon.blogspot.com/2005/09/battle-for-mosul-progress-report.html), thanks to Lt. Col. Kurilla and then men of "Deuce-Four". Writer Michael Yon has been on the ground with them for a couple of months now, seeing Iraq on the ground - and often in the middle of firefights, right alongside the troops he covers. He is NOT paid by any of the "mainstream" media outlets, who seem uninterested in his front-line combat journalism even as it wins accolades. So why does he do it? Why is he "over there"? (http://michaelyon.blogspot.com/2005/09/battle-for-mosul-progress-report.html)

US troops have been using radio-controlled toy cars (http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/2005/05/remote-control-toys-used-by-iraq-patrols/index.php) to help them check for roadside bombs. In response, a bunch more MTRS TALON IV robots are being ordered for use in Iraq & Afghanistan. Is this bad news for RadioShack? Good news for US troops? DID explains & analyzes (http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/2005/09/mtrs-to-the-rescue-no-more-radioshack/index.php).

Iraqi President Talabani said (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050909/ap_on_re_mi_ea/us_iraq_2;_ylt=ApzFLcQkBJwjAQypSe9uaGBX6GMA;_ylu=X 3oDMTBiMW04NW9mBHNlYwMlJVRPUCUl)that there would be no need for U.S. troops in his country in two years:

Praising U.S. forces for contributing to Iraq's emergence from hardline rule by Saddam Hussein, Talabani said, "We need American troops to intimidate our neighbors." He warned that a quick withdrawal of American and multinational forces "could lead to the victory of the terrorists in Iraq and create grave threats to the region, the United States and the civilized world."

Holding a news conference after giving a speech at the Saban Center for Middle East policy, Talabani said: "We, and you, cannot afford to cede Iraq to the evil forces of terrorism and religious fanaticism. In two years, there will be no need for American forces."

Britain is ready to send more troops to Iraq - if they are needed, Defence Secretary John Reid has said (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4258210.stm).

Mr Reid said seeing through the commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan were the right thing to do for those countries and the world. "Our troops will be there until such times as the conditions are met - those conditions being the Iraqis themselves having such democratic control and such security forces that they can take the lead." He said more troops would be sent to Iraq "if that is necessary".

"We don't need them at the moment. If they are necessary, of course we would do that and when the Iraqis decide that they want to take over the transition and the lead then they will tell us.

"But there is no cutting and running. We are there until this job is done."

Iraqi and U.S. soldiers (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Sep2005/20050920_2801.html)brought school supplies to the children of Mahmudiyah, Iraq:

As pencils, crayons, books and learning games were distributed, Mahdi promised it would not be the last time the soldiers paid a visit to the neighborhood. "My hope is that we will (have) this experience at least monthly or twice a month," he said. "I could not be more pleased that we, as soldiers, have this privilege. We must become friends with the people of Mahmudiyah and this region."

Iraqi and U.S. soldiers delivered bookbags (http://www.blackanthem.com/TheAllies/military_2005092001.html)to school children in Radwiniyah:

Students at the Al-Sayad Primary School are now able to carry their school work home in new book bags, thanks to the efforts of Iraqi and U.S. Soldiers. Iraqi Army and Task Force Baghdad Soldiers provided school supplies to children from the Radwiniyah area Sept. 13; however, the biggest hit of the day was the book bag give-away.

The smiles on the faces of the children as they left the school were proof enough that the gifts provided by Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 121st Infantry, 48th Brigade Combat Team; C Company, 490th Civil Affairs Battalion; and the 4th Iraqi Army Brigade were well received.

All NATO countries, even those who opposed the war, are now providing training and equipment (http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/09/21/news/nato.php) to Iraq's democratically elected government:

European countries have overcome their past differences with the United States over Iraq and all 26 NATO members are now providing training and equipment to Baghdad, according to the alliance's secretary general. The official, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, a former Dutch foreign minister who backed the Bush administration's war while many Europeans opposed it, said Tuesday that he was about to raise the NATO flag over a huge complex in Baghdad that had prepared 1,000 Iraqi officers inside the country and 500 more outside. ...

He complained that most European countries still invested too little in defense and said that he was devoting himself to "pubic diplomacy" to try to persuade allies of the importance to European security of actions taken by NATO far afield from Europe.

While thousands in America took part in the National Multiple Sclerosis Society's Bike Tour this past weekend, 15 soldiers in Iraq biked 100 miles to help raise awareness and funds for the National MS Society:

The cyclists are stationed at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Danger, in Tikrit. Major Fred Evans, 42nd Aviation Brigade Liaison Officer, organized "Team Danger," the group of cyclists. Major Evans has participated in MS Bike Tours through his local Society chapter (Greater North Jersey). He says finding riders was easy and that supporting the National Multiple Sclerosis Society is just a continuation of the values the military is based upon. "Over here we're fighting for our country, fighting the global war on terrorism," said Evans. "With this bike tour we're trying to help people, not only in the United States, but all over the world, in fighting this disease and in trying to find a cure for multiple sclerosis."The soldiers have raised more than $5,000 so far.

On Sept. 14th, Polish soldiers completed the renovation of a water plant (http://www.mnf-iraq.com/Releases/Sep/050918d.htm): The plant serves approximately 30,000 citizens in the town of Sumer, about 15 kilometers north of ad Diwaniyah. The Sumer project follows a similar project in Sarai, 30 kilometers south of ad Diwaniyah.

Polish troops installed five new pumps and five electric engines in the Sumer plant. They also provided maintenance to the plant’s generator.
According to the Multi-National Division Central-South, Polish soldiers assisted a Sumerian school in gearing up for a new school year (http://www.mnf-iraq.com/Releases/Sep/050920a.htm) in a Civil Military Cooperation project (CIMIC): Polish troops provided a new electric generator for Sumer (10 km north of Ad Diwaniyah), a school for girls, on Sept. 19 as the next Civil Military Cooperation project was completed.

Air conditioners were also installed in the classrooms. Additional projects to help the school included changing the desks, providing a water pump, and installing a refrigerator for potable water. These additions will improve the teaching conditions for the teachers and pupils.

On Sept. 24th, Bulgerian soldiers from Multi-National Division Central-South returning to Iraq ("]completed another school-renovation project[/url] near Ad Diwaniyah: Soldiers from Bulgaria’s 3rd Battle Group renovated classrooms, electrical wiring and plumbing. Renovations at the school in Al Farazdk, near Afak, also included a new fence for the school. Civil-Military specialists in the division have completed more than 500 educational projects worth more than $14,000,000.
Members of the 101st Airborne Division are [url="http://www.courier-journal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050928/NEWS0104/509280410/1008/NEWS01), better prepaired and better supplied:
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. -- New tactics. New uniforms. Better body armor, Internet-based phones and more drones for aerial surveillance.
As 101st Airborne Division soldiers return to Iraq this month, they are bringing those new tools and others to fight what they say is a radically changing war. Other changes include arming nearly every soldier, including cooks and colonels, with a rifle and training each in Iraqi politics and how the Army has fought guerrilla wars in the past.

NATO Hopes for Big Impact (http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-5308681,00.html) in Iraq:

Dozens of Iraqi officers sat in crisp, new combat fatigues, wearing a colorful variety of berets as they crammed into an auditorium for the reopening of the country's military college. One day, NATO instructors hope, these officers could be the solution to Iraq's security woes. NATO officials privately express fears that U.S. forces will never be able to quell the raging Iraqi insurgency. But they say well-trained, united and well-equipped Iraqi troops, with the support of the local population, may be able to do the job.

That is why they view the elite training of Iraqi officers - NATO's only mission in this country - as so important, likening the college to West Point or Britain's prestigious Sandhurst military academy.

October 7th, 2005, 11:05 AM
The more good news, the sooner we can get home.