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Good news from Iraq, 16 August 2005

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Note: As always, also available from "The Opinion Journal" and Chrenkoff. Thank you to James Taranto, Joe Katzman, and all of you dear fellow bloggers and readers, regular and irregular, for your support for the series.

Conservative activist and commentator L. Brent Bozell III 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 there are some positive developments taking place that should also be receive the media's attention. Judging by the coverage, the media's answer seems to be, not very often. Whether that's because such positive developments are objectively rare, or whether it's because they are deemed not important and consequential enough, remains an open question.

But just in case the media has made a wrong judgment in this matter, here are the past two weeks' worth of under-reported and often overlooked good news stories from Iraq.

SOCIETY:

  • With the constitutional process underway, and another election on the horizon, there are growing efforts 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."
  • Iraq the Model blog has more on this topic.

  • More broadly, public participation 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.

  • Meanwhile, free media continues to grow. Iraq's first independent news agency 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 (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 have also officially taken over the International Press Center 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:

    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 has been created with help from an American humanitarian:

    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.

ECONOMY:

  • Iraqi economy - a risky environment, but nevertheless plenty of opportunities:

    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 is assisting Iraqi banking sector and 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.
  • But it's not just an economic input from USAID: "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:

    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 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 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 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, the rightful owner will finally take possession of the name:

    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:

    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, the oil production stood at 1.44 million barrels per day, in July it rose to 1.6 million. In that month, Iraq earned $2.5 billion from oil sales. In early August, the exports stood at 1.6 million barrels and the local consumption at 600,000 barrels.

  • Negotiations on the expansion of the necessary infrastructure get underway:

    Iraq has made headway in talks 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 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 35 million cubic feet of natural gas a day to Kuwait, for a five-year period. "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: "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 are re-starting after 15 years. There is also a joint airport project 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.

RECONSTRUCTION:

  • Japan, in conjunction with the World Bank, will be engaging in a major residential construction program: "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 construct six residential complexes in Basra and Amara to house some of the Marsh Arabs of the south while the marshes are slowly being regenerated. And Denmark will be constructing 300 houses in Badra for any Iraqi refugees currently living in Denmark who are willing to go back home.

  • Iraq reaches anelectricity milestone:

    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: "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: "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."

  • USAID is also working on several major water projects (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. 2006... The Iraqi subcontractor implementing the Baghdad Water Mains Rehabilitation project has laid 16.1 km of asphalt paving and 87.7 km of main line pipe to date which surpasses the original contract amount of 74 km. The current goal is to install 98km of mainline pipe. A total of 7,498 additional homes have been connected to the water mains.

  • In Basra province, 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 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 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, 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." Also:

    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 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 Organisation has recently conducted a successful campaign: "A successful national Polio Vaccination Campaign, 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 program by USAID is aiming 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 Organisation is also working on the health infrastructure:

    - 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 ($306 million) for the purchase of medicines and equipment. There's also more help for Iraq's many victims 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 US Department of Agriculture is funding 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 is also assisting with some smaller scale initiatives such as these (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 (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) of land farmed by 120 families.
  • And there's good environmental news from the south:

    Good news from Iraq is hard to come by these days, what with the suicide bombings, the car bombs, the tension between Shi’a and Sunni factions and the almost daily kidnappings. Yet amidst all the doom and gloom there are some positive reports on the unlikely subject of Iraq’s environment. 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... At last there is good news: 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.

HUMANITARIAN AID:

  • USAID continues to help the disabled (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 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 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
    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 youngester's project to help troops bring some cheer to Iraqi children 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.

THE COALITION TROOPS:

  • Read this amazing story 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 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 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 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: "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 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:

    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: "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 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 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, 4th Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment have been teaching basic first aid skills to teachers from six schools in the Karradah District at the request of the neighborhood council.

  • The army engineers are continuing to renovate schools 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. Speaking of education, a Marine who's pursuing career in teaching is finding that in Iraq too, he can interact with children:

    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
    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."

  • It's not just the American troops. Here's a contribution from Slovakia: "A Slovak unit of military engineers deployed in Iraq has cleared an area of over 574,000 square meters 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 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 Salvadorians: "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."

SECURITY:

  • A recent Department of Defence report 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, the Joint Staff's director of strategic plans and policy] 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 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 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:

    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 US military is also reporting an improving security situation in Mosul:

    There's one clear sign that life in the Sunni Arab-dominated (search) 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 (search) 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 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, 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, too, is growing:

    The Iraqi Police Service graduated 142 police officers from advanced and specialty courses at the Adnan Training Facility [on August 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 Iraqi Security Forces were trained this month, 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 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 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 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:

    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 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: "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 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 18-months' absence, Iraqi police is back patrolling the streets of Fallujah. And now, a joining committee is also preparing for the Iraqi assumption of security responsibilities in five southern cities of Diwaniya, Karbala, Najaf, Nasseriya and Samawa. The talks about withdrawing from Najaf are already progressing well.

  • The construction 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 on the army engineers' Gulf Region Central security infrastructure projects: "One of projects Asaad oversees is the $10 million, 6,400 square-meter 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 renovation of the Civil Defense headquarters building in Baghdad. Hayder’s project is the new $8.5 million, 4,000 square-meter courthouse being built in Baghdad that is 15 percent complete."

  • Some armor 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, along with eight additional suspects";

  • "Coalition forces conducted a raid in western Ramadi early Aug. 3 resulting in the capture of 10 suspected terrorists. 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 August 3, when American soldiers were investigating a terror tip from a local in East Baghdad, a suicide bomber detonated prematurely, causing only minor damage and injuries. Two accomplices were arrested;

  • The capture of insurgents thought to be responsible for the recent deaths of twenty 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 anti-terror 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 two days' worth of work 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 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 August 5 and 6:

    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 August 6 and 7:

    - 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 in the Baghdad area;

  • "Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 108th Armor Regiment, found a large weapons cache 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 eight kilometers 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 Iraqi police in Baghdad's Al Askan District on July 28;

  • "Iraqi Army soldiers conducting a traffic control point detained 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, 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 terrorists who were attempting to place a roadside bomb in Samarra July 30;

  • Eleven insurgents killed in a village near Haditha, north-west of Baghdad, after Marines came under attack from a school building on 31 July;

  • A large weapons cache found by soldiers from the 116th Brigade Combat Team in Mamah on August 1;

  • On August 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 anti- aircraft rockets with their launchers. 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 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 and responded to an attack against Iraqi Police during operations in northern Iraq Aug. 3 and 4";

  • Forty one suspected terrorists, including three foreign fighters, captured by Task Force Baghdad soldiers during Operation Able Warrior west of the Baghdad International Airport on August 4;

  • "Results 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";

  • American troops in Baghdad killing a suicide bomber on August 6 before his car could explode near their patrol; six insurgents were killed and twelve captured in various repelled attacks that day - 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 in Baghdad used as a base of operations and a storage for explosives, is destroyed by the Coalition forces on August 6. There are several secondary explosions;

  • On August 8, "Iraqi soldiers and police backed by Italian troops have captured an unspecified number of 'terrorists' near the southern Iraqi city of Nassiriya";

  • On August 8, "U.S. Marines discovered a car bomb factory 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."

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.

4 TrackBacks

Tracked: August 16, 2005 11:41 AM
Good news from Iraq, 16 August 2005 from Winds of Change.NET
Excerpt: Note: As always, also available from "The Opinion Journal" and Chrenkoff. Thank you to James Taranto, Joe Katzman, and all of you dear fellow bloggers and readers, regular and irregular, for your support for the...
Tracked: August 16, 2005 1:20 PM
Dawn Patrol from Mudville Gazette
Excerpt: Welcome to the Dawn Patrol, our daily roundup of information on the War on Terror and other topics - from the MilBlogs, other blogs, and the mainstream media. If you're a blogger, you can join the conversation. If you link...
Tracked: August 16, 2005 3:48 PM
Good News From Iraq from Dadmanly
Excerpt: This summary of good news seems to grow with each issue; compare the volume and breadth of all the good that's being done, against the drum beat defeatism from the mainstream media (MSM).
Tracked: August 16, 2005 4:37 PM
AP: Aversion to Probity from A Goy and his Blog
Excerpt: While it steadfastly ignores good news in the Middle East, specifically in Iraq, AP manages to taint good news at home with its signature mischaracterization, innuendo and faux analysis. The good news: The federal budget-deficit picture turned brigh...

17 Comments

Good work! Instapundit's best link of the day.

I have given up on the Pres and our leadership to be the ralling force of the people. Our current leadership is either inept or unwilling to make regualar TV and other presentations to rally and keep the people ralllied. Give the other side of what is happening the good things happening, the progress, the new Iraqi leaders, How this war stacks up and compares to history.

We need the military to step up and pull back one of those new missle fundings to help us kill our enemy better and put it to a "Informational Warefare Unit" get some damm PR and Advertising people hired up have soldgiers active duty wether current or brought back in from retirement in full dress uniform everyday making rounds on the Media outlets telling the other side telling the good things & the bad. And yes they should be biased towards what will help victory. We can use Pycops on our enemy and it is so important to win "the hearts and minds" of the enemy but we cant do that here. 4th gen warefare is made possible only by our media and by our media is were it is lost or won. WW2 we lost 300+ men a day had major defeats loss of territory treasure huge mistakes with extreme cost yet morale stayed high and solid. Becuase at that time the military could trust the media and hollywood to be on our side and help in a war effort. No longer is that the case todays media is anti-american or nuetral at best. Iraq will be the 3rd 4th gen war in a row lost in the media (if we lose and I would say that if we win it will only becuase it is such a overwelming success). The hearts and minds of the American street is 80% in 4th gen warefare. The common american only knows the 30minutes or so of news he gets a day if that only shows the doom and gloom that is all he knows its not his fault. The military should be having comercials in prime time and such showing US forces eating with Iraqi family X and Mamed Iraqi by Saddam beeing hopefull for his daughter pan right, show real Doom and Gloom senerio clips of future news if we lose this war, pictures of our enemies atroucities beheadings Beslan ect.... and the caption this is what and who we fight, fluff pictures of old Iraqi's voting saying this is what we fight for, pictures of Iraqi soldgiers saying we need your help until we are strong enough. The military has no one to do this for them the leadership only responds when the media has already done the damage and the polls are down by then it is to late its a lot easier to keep support rolling than it is to get it rolling. The military can do this and would be fully justified some shuffuling around a bit and adding on more military camera men and wrtiters maybe some outside proffesional help with the advertiseing commercial spots stopping the leaks and the briefing making the media have the military reps on air if they wanted status on events ect....

How can the government overcome the overwhelming anti-administration propaganda flogged by the MSM daily without going out and building their own television stations?

Good post, better than usual. Some focus on outputs rather than inputs. Good news on electricity and oil, and interesting material on insurgent attacks.

This is so true! Even Bush friendly Fox News can't get away the bombings. If the War on Terror is to be won, the media must real itself in, or be realed in.

BTW:

If any missed it, DoD confirmed that the Chemical Facility was indeed for mixing explosives (echoing my early assertion that it was a car bomb factory through simple analysis of the photos provided).

DefenseLINK News: Chem Site Samples Analyzed Further

I am not tooting my own horn, just think it is important to note as many were already driving the CW Train into station.

For what it's worth, it is in ways better to have discovered and eliminated a bomb factory rather than a CW lab...insofar as VBIED's are causing far more carnage today with a single hit than anything else fielded by the terrorists in-theater to date.

This interrogation-turned-raid saved untold numbers of lives in one day's work.

Bravo.

CW weapons are difficult to deploy effectively, though haunting as they are. VBIED's merely need a driver and a crowd of children. On this day, I'll take the Car Bomb Factory for immediate effect / saved-lives count, though many may think me mad for that choice.

Regardless, it thankfully was not such a choice and equally thankfully, not mine to make regardless.

Thanks for noticing that bit, Chrenk...as if you'd have missed anything good... ;)

As usual, good news from Iraq is wonderful in its ability to shock and awe the uninformed or misinformed into optimism, thanks and keep up the great work.

"As usual, good news from Iraq is wonderful in its ability to shock and awe the uninformed or misinformed into optimism, thanks and keep up the great work."

And also as usual, some troll swoops in with a criticism completely devoid of substance and utterly failing to address the points made. Bravo.

Has anyone else seen the Daily Terrorist Round-Up blog? It's pretty cool. There are a bunch of stories everyday about terrorists being captured or killed all over the world.

Its good to have a bit of good news now and again.

Man, sometimes the jokes almost write themselves:

How can the government overcome the overwhelming anti-administration propaganda flogged by the MSM daily without going out and building their own television stations?

Yeah, how on earth CAN this Administration get their viewpoint across? They only have access to:

The National Review
The Washington Times
Fox News
Sean Hannity
Rush Limbaugh
Lars Larson
Michael Savage
The Weekly Standard
Newsmax.com
Little Green Footballs
Mr. Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler

etc., etc., ad nauseam.

Plus, as regards news from Iraq, remember that the only Western journalists who survive fifteen minutes outside the Green Zone are journalists who are embedded with American units. So the picture from Mesopotamia is a darned sight more controllable than it ever was from Indochina.

Yeah, darned hard task our heroic leaders have getting their point across. Because all the mayhem and murder from Iraq is just leftwing agitprop.

Stickler, your comment was funny. But not, I suspect, for the reasons you intended.

Your attempt to claim that the National Review and the Washington Times are such powerful clarions of the administration's message was hilarious.

Robin:

Your attempt to claim that the National Review and the Washington Times are such powerful clarions of the administration's message was hilarious.

Oh, so those organs are channeling the insights of Dr. Dean, then?

I mean, come on. Reverend Moon does not permit the Washington Times to deviate from a standard set of talking points, and these seem to have a remarkable congruence with the current Administration message of the day.

And the National Review isn't friendly to the Administration? Good grief, what definition to you have for "friendly," in that case? I'll avoid scatological references in my query.

I think the point is that hardly any of the good news above has been mentioned by the major media, and that includes those that are, or supposed to be pro-Bush.

As stated, even Fox news doesn't cover this stuff, it sticks to missing blondes in Aruba and IED bombings.

Has anyone seen any msm stories on the the new construction appearing anywhere, or strategy for getting electricity in Iraq? All we keep hearing is how they want more electricity as though it were the US' fault is doesn't have enough, if only they would flick the big switch they have to push hundreds of Mw into the grid.

Damn, just imagine what a well adjusted Iraq could look like if they get their act together, and push ahead for a better future. It will put many other countries in the middle east to shame, and I think that is what they fear.

Stickler, more than half of those arent news outlets and dont purport to be. They are opinion outlets. They have there place but are you suggesting the way to inform main stream America about something is via Rush Limbaugh? I'm guessing you dont really want to admit that the bulk of mainstream America listens to Rush Limbaugh.

Secondly all of the news outlets you listed put together are dwarfed by any single one of the major networks, even in this day and age.
You wanna trade NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS, NPR, CNN, NYT, LAT, Washington Post, Wonkette, and Koz for the list you mentioned? We'll take that deal any day of the week and twice on sundays.

Yes! We want good news, only good news, all the time!

There's an old saying "if it bleeds, it leads!" The press should be skeptical, that's their job. People can listen to Rush or Fox if they want mindless cheerleading.

#15 Matt

...And they can listen to you if they want mindless cheap shots? I mean, seriously, I hope your post made you feel good, because as near as I can tell, that's all it's doing.

The issue is, as Robert Anton Wilson used to say, what the hell is actually going on. Or that's what the issue ought to be, it seems to me. I don't see your post as contributing in any way toward that goal.

Nort

"The press should be skeptical, that's their job. People can listen to Rush or Fox if they want mindless cheerleading."

Problem is they are habitually skeptical in only one direction. Which is why it is called bias.

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