Sunday, April 20, 2008

Positive Improvement in Iraq

Karl at Protein Wisdom has a great post up on the fight of Iraqi regulars to restore control to Basra (via Memeorandum):

With the Iraqi Army defeating Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army in Basra, the L.A. Times has moved on to tell its readers how terrible things might get in Najaf. Buried in the middle of the piece, however, is a bit about the battle for Basra:

This time, the grand ayatollahs have declined to aid the incendiary cleric.

Three days into the Basra campaign, Grand Ayatollah Najafi issued a fatwa, or religious opinion or edict, that declared the Iraqi government as the only force in the country with the right to bear arms.

His son, Sheik Ali Najafi, left little doubt that the clergy had backed the Iraqi army operations.

“We see this as a positive improvement. . . . The people want the government to control the streets and the law to be enforced. No other groups,” he said, sitting in his study, furnished with cushions, a laptop and a clock bearing his father’s portrait.

Their stance is a gamble. An influential cleric who is knowledgeable about talks between the Sadr movement and the grand ayatollahs described the situation in bleak terms: The government is weak, and Sadr aides now acknowledge privately that they have lost control of members who are receiving support from Iran.

The opposition of the clerics to the Mahdi Army will likely be ignored by the Juan Coles and Matthew Yglesiases, who prefer to pass along Sadrist propaganda. The establishment media will likely do the same, particularly with regard to the Iranian meddling in Iraq.

While we're on the topic of the Los Angeles Times, the paper's also published other very important stories that aren't getting the play they deserve in the debate over Iraq's progress.

In a story Thursday, "Iraq Restaurant's Fortunes Rise and Fall with Violence, the Times reported the reopening of Sun City Foods in Baghdad's Saidiya neighborhood. The restaurant's owner, Faruq Tamimi, opened up again for business again on March 20 this year. The relative calm in the city, compared to early 2007 when sectarian violence shut down much local commerce, has brought customers back out onto the streets.

Tamimi says that U.S. military forces are key to his neighborhood's prosperity: ""If they leave, in the morning some group will bomb the restaurant," he said, alluding to the various Shiite and Sunni parties and government security forces.'

Iraq Restaurant Reopens

Also, the Times had an interesting article yesterday on women's sports programs in Iraq, "In Iraq, Efforts to Revive Women's Basketball." The piece tells the story of the Iraqi Basketball Association's effort to revive the sport, which has been crippled by war, but also by the country's conservative culture, which traditionally subordinates women.

These stories - including the experiences of the Iraqi clerics noted above who are seeing "positive improvements" - indicate that so much of what's happening in Iraq today is about everday people and their aspirations to live a good life. These stories show a true process of building a civil society in the consolidation of democratic Iraq.

You don't read about these stories too often from the
Juan Coles and Matthew Yglesiases either.

Photo Credit: Los Angeles Times