Michael Totten

Sadr City Turns Around

I don’t have much to say about this AP story by Hamza Hendawi. It pretty much speaks for itself. Happy to pass it along, though.

BAGHDAD, Iraq – After spending much of the year as a battlefield between militiamen and U.S. forces, Baghdad’s Sadr City district is now embracing peace and reconstruction.
Anticipation is high for what the residents of the mainly Shiite district say is their overdue empowerment through elections Jan. 30.
The outdoor markets are busy again and the gridlocked traffic is back. The bands of excited children who walked behind local militiamen heading to battle in the fall now clamor around machinery laying down new water pipes.
Workers in orange jumpsuits are laying asphalt in dozens of potholes dug by the fighters to conceal roadside bombs meant to kill American soldiers. The clerics who replaced their turbans and robes with track suits to join the fight are back in mosques and seminaries.
The daily lives of Sadr City’s estimated 2.5 million people have not seen much improvement in the two months since fighting ended. But the large Baghdad neighborhood appears on such a euphoric high that the mounds of festering garbage, the constant seepage of sewage and shortage of clean water seem to matter little.
In marked contrast to the skeptical Sunni Arab community, Sadr City’s population is looking forward to the January ballot. Banners and posters exhort residents to vote, and booklets explaining the process are distributed house-to-house. Even the sight of U.S. military convoys darting through the district no longer draw resentful looks.

First, Sadr City. Next, Fallujah.