Earlier we showed TimesOnline taking our American news media to the woodshed and giving them and the defeatist politicians a good spanking and now we see reports that thousands of Iraqi citizens are returning home because they see it as safe to do so.
BAGHDAD (AP) - In a dramatic turnaround, more than 3,000 Iraqi families driven out of their Baghdad neighborhoods have returned to their homes in the past three months as sectarian violence has dropped, the government said Saturday.
Saad al-Azawi, his wife and four children are among them. They fled to Syria six months ago, leaving behind what had become one of the capital's more dangerous districts—west Baghdad's largely Sunni Khadra region.
The family had been living inside a vicious and bloody turf battle between al-Qaida in Iraq and Mahdi Army militiamen. But Azawi said things began changing, becoming more peaceful, in August when radical anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr ordered his Mahdi Army fighters to stand down nationwide.
About the same time, the Khadra neighborhood Awakening Council rose up against brutal al-Qaida control—the imposition of its austere interpretation of Islam, along with the murder and torture of those who would not comply.
The uprising originated in Iraq's west and flowed into the capital. Earlier this year, the Sunni tribes and clans in the vast Anbar province began their own revolt and have successfully rid the largely desert region of al-Qaida control.
At one point the terrorist group virtually controlled Anbar, often with the complicity of the vast Sunni majority who welcomed the outsiders in their fight against American forces.
But, U.S. officials say, al-Qaida overplayed its hand with Iraq's Sunnis, who practice a moderate version of Islam. American forces were quick to capitalize on the upheaval, welcoming former Sunni enemies as colleagues in securing what was once the most dangerous region of the country.
And as 30,000 additional U.S. forces arrived for the crackdown in Baghdad and central Iraq, the American commander, Gen. David Petraeus, began stationing many of them in neighborhood outposts. The mission was not only to take back control but to foster neighborhood groups like the one in Khadra to shake off al-Qaida's grip.
The 40-year-old al-Azawi, who has gone back to work managing a car service, said relatives and friends persuaded him to bring his family home.
"Six months ago, I wouldn't dare be outside, not even to stand near the garden gate by the street. Killings had become routine. I stopped going to work, I was so afraid," he said, chatting with friends on a street in the neighborhood.
When he and his family joined the flood of Iraqi refugees to Syria the streets were empty by early afternoon, when all shops were tightly shuttered. Now the stores stay open until 10 p.m. and the U.S. military working with the neighborhood council is handing out $2,000 grants to shop owners who had closed their business. The money goes to those who agree to reopen or first-time businessmen.
Al-Azawi said he's trying to get one of the grants to open a poultry and egg shop that his brother would run.
"In Khadra, about 15 families have returned from Syria. I've called friends and family still there and told them it's safe to come home," he said.
Sattar Nawrous, a spokesman for the Ministry of Displacement and Migration, said the al-Azawi family was among 3,100 that have returned to their homes in Baghdad in the past 90 days.
"In the past three months, the ministry did not register any forced displacement in the whole of Iraq," said Nawrous, who is a Kurd.
Our media is being forced to start reporting the good news.
I wonder how long it is before the party of denial starts to acknowledge the progress we are seeing in Iraq.
Not holding my breath.
[Update] This is what I mean about waiting to put it all together. In yet another AP report, we see that "Daily Iraqi sectarian death toll hits rare low" (This has got to be a bitter pill for AP to swallow--2 good news stories in one day)
Iraqi: 'Things are looking better now'
As if sensing a possible shift in the capital, Iraqis in mainly Shiite eastern Baghdad have returned to the streets in numbers not seen in months.
Firas Rahim, who owns a shop selling clothing for men and children in the Karradah neighborhood, said the number of customers in the store has risen 75 percent in recent days. He now stays open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Before the chaos diminished he was open only from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
“I was afraid to stay open longer because of the bombings and violence. Things are looking better now. My business is booming,” Rahim said. “I have whole families coming in again. It’s a positive sign. I hope it lasts. Baghdadis love to live at night. I used to close after midnight and hope, someday, I can again.”
Taxis and minibuses, scarce even on recent Fridays, were plentiful. In the mainly Shiite district of New Baghdad, in the east of the capital, a small amusement park was under repair, workmen rejuvenating the rides. The park was closed when the United States invaded in March 2003.
Shops were under repair for reopening. And in the neighborhood market, there were women present, able to enter without searches for the first time in months. Residents said hundreds of shops that had been closed on recent Fridays were now open.
Others discussing this:
Michelle Malkin, Assorted Babble, Jules Crittenden, Back Talk, Flopping Aces, Gateway Pundit, and PoliPundit.
As with the earlier story, the silence from left is deafening.... anyone surprised?
In their childish way they feel if they close their eyes real tight and ignore it, it can't be happening.
About crime in Iraq as of late and hopes of having a complete death free day... lets get some perspective.