Following weeks of better news about encouraging progress in Iraq, we now see stories about a revival of life in Baghdad.
In a story titled "Baghdad Comes Alive," Newsweek's Rod Nordland reports on the transformation in the Iraqi capital:
For someone who has returned periodically to Baghdad during these past four and a half years of war, there has been one constant: it only gets worse.Nordland makes a number of positive observations:
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For the first time, however, returning to Baghdad after an absence of four months, I can actually say that things do seem to have gotten better, and in ways that may even be durable.
Al Qaeda in Iraq is starting to look like a spent force, especially in Baghdad. The civil war is in the midst of a huge, though nervous, pause. Most Shiite militias are honoring a truce. appears to have stopped shipping deadly arms to Iraqi militants. The indigenous Sunni insurgency has declared for the Americans across broad swaths of the country, especially in the capital.A famous Iraqi promenade has reopened along the east side of the Tigris River, with its old eucalyptus trees and trademark fish restaurants:
Emerging from our bunkers into the Red Zone, I see the results everywhere. Throughout Baghdad, shops and street markets are open late again, taking advantage of the fine November weather. Parks are crowded with strollers, and kids play soccer on the streets. Traffic has resumed its customary epic snarl. The Baghdad Zoo is open, and caretakers have even managed to bring in two lionesses to replace the menagerie that escaped in the early days of the war (and was hunted down by U.S. soldiers).
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People are buying alcohol again—as they always had in Baghdad, until religious extremists forced many neighborhood liquor shops to close.
Children played on swings and a band belted out popular folk music to mark the reopening of a famous Baghdad riverside avenue on Saturday, part of government efforts to take advantage of declining violence.The Iraq museum in Baghdad, ransacked by hordes of looters in the wake of Saddam Hussein’s overthrow, is scheduled to reopen next month.The encouraging news does not mean the war is over, but the tide appears to have turned. If we remain resolute, we may achieve the victory we have been fighting to obtain.
"I have not been on an outing like this for four years," said Rajaa Mahmoud, who came with her husband and children to see Abu Nawas street officially reopened after a months-long facelift.