Notes From Baghdad
Open liquor stores and other signs of the surge's success.
BY MOHAMMED FADHIL AND OMAR FADHIL Wednesday, March 7, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST
BAGHDAD--The new strategy to secure Baghdad has been dubbed by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as "Operation Imposing the Law." After weeks of waiting and anxiety it is finally under way, and early signs are encouraging.
The government information campaign and the news about thousands of additional troops coming had a positive impact even before the operation started. Commanders and lieutenants of various militant groups abandoned their positions in Baghdad and in some cases fled the country. Diyala province, to the east of Baghdad, was the destination for many Sunni extremists, while Shiite militiamen went to Babil and Diwaniya in the south. Some higher-ranking members of Shiite and Sunni militant groups fled to Iran and Syria respectively. This migration motivated the government to announce supporting security measures in five provinces around Baghdad, to make sure that fleeing bad guys do not regroup in other cities.
So after only a couple weeks we can feel, despite the continuing violence, that much has been accomplished. Many Baghdadis feel hopeful again about the future, and the fear of civil war is slowly being replaced by optimism that peace might one day return to this city. This change in mood is something huge by itself."
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