- Title: IRAQ: Fragile peace in Basra after security crackdown
- Date: 11th July 2008
- Summary: (W3) AL-MAJIDIYAH, BASRA, IRAQ (JULY 09, 2008) (REUTERS) SHOPS IN BASRA MARKET AREA VARIOUS OF YOUNG BOY WORKING OUTSIDE CARPENTER'S WORKSHOP MAZHER AL-SALAM, CARPENTER OUTSIDE HIS WORKSHOP
- Embargoed: 26th July 2008 13:00
- Location: Iraq
- Country: Iraq
- Topics: Crime / Law Enforcement,Defence / Military
- Reuters ID: LVA4W2EHXN5GECF08NHI4QH4NTMQ
- Story Text: With violence in Iraq overall at four-year lows, Basra could serve as an example of obstacles the country faces as it edges toward recovery from the turmoil that followed the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
With ordinary residents of Iraq's oil capital unable to rely on basics like electricity or water supplies for more a few hours a day, the city is enjoying something of a surge in confidence following the success of an army assault in April that drove out Shii'te Mehdi Army and other militias who had made Iraq's second-biggest city a no-go area, analysts say.
Shopkeepers in north Basra's al-Majidiyah neighbourhood, one of the city's toughest districts, said they were now staying open later to take advantage of security provided by army patrols.
"We need jobs for all these people. When they have jobs we would have more business,"
Mazher Salam, a 32-year-old furniture store owner, said in a pause from putting together bed frames.
But business owners said the decrepit infrastructure, including electricity limited to a few hours a day, was the biggest hindrance, especially during summer heat that hit 43 degrees Celsius (110 Fahrenheit) this week.
"We don't want something impossible. Electricity, security and a good job. That's all," said Falah Hassan, the 24-year-old manager of a food store on the Route 6 highway.
British troops have taken advantage of the new calm, returning to the city after their high profile withdrawal last year amid a barrage of attacks.
Now, members of 2 Royal Anglian Regiment are stationed in North Basra training members of the Iraqi Army who are responsible, along with police for security in the city.
Officer Commanding 'B' Company, 2 Royal Anglian Regiment, Major Pete Smith, said there is now a new consensus amongst local people offering an opportunity not to be missed.
"Like any people it's the basics that the Iraqis want. It's power, water, it's education, you know, it's access to medical support. If we can get that right I think we are on the way to doing something positive and correct in Iraq," said Major Pete Smith.
The Provincial Governer of Basra, Mohammed al-Waeli, says he believes the militias are a spent force.
"I think the militias are over in the province of Basra. I think the Mehdi Army is finished. Some of the elements have escaped to Iran, and those that have remained in the province are not strong and are not going to be active in violence of any sort and will not have any effect on the province," he said.
But in a sign that security is still fragile, three rockets hit the coalition forces compound at the airport on Wednesday night. There were no casualties.
Acting on tip from a farmer, Iraqi and British troops found one of the launch sites on the Qarmat Ali waterway in north Basra. They recovered an unarmed 107mm Chinese-made rocket from amid the reeds.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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