Good News from Basra

Standard

[This is from the Times Online (UK)]

Barney White-Spunner writes:

There is an interesting piece of graffiti on a bridge near Basra. A fleeing militiaman has scrawled “We’ll be back”; underneath an Iraqi soldier has scribbled in reply “And we’ll be waiting for you”.

The Shia militias, the Jaish al- Mahdi, who controlled large parts of Basra until March this year, has now gone and instead the city is firmly under the grip of Iraq’s new security forces, in whom the coalition has invested so much training. They re-established control in April, in an operation romantically named “The Charge of the Knights”, systematically clearing the city with British and American support, confiscating illegal weapons and arresting the violent gangs whose combination of criminality and vicious extremism was making life a misery for so many of Basra’s people.

Around the city the posters of religious leaders are being replaced with billboards advertising cars and mobile phones and photographs of Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi Prime Minister, who is rightly credited with being the driving force behind the army’s crackdown. You see the symbol of The Charge of the Knights everywhere, a black horse carrying the flag of Iraq trampling the gangsters underfoot.

This improvement in security has made Basrawis more confident of their future than at any time since 2003. A recent poll showed that only 8 per cent now regard security as their main concern; 80 per cent have confidence in the Iraqi security forces to protect them. Women are free to walk the streets uncovered and to wear Western dress should they so choose.

Yet what also makes people here so confident is that they know that they live in what is potentially one of the richest cities in the Middle East…

[read it all]

Advertisements

2 responses »

  1. Good news indeed. You brought up that billboards of religious leaders are being replaced with advertisements and such. I was writing about developments in Kurdistan the other day, and I kept going back to all the new malls and centers of commerce you see popping up in the region. In a way, and I don’t know if this is part of my old radical self, but I almost wanted to downplay those developments because it reaffirms something radicals have been saying about our struggle in the ME: that it will subvert traditional ways and increase consumerism and capitalism. I think that is a positive step, but there is some truth in the radical’s assessment that liberal democratic institutions and systems will slowly rid the area of “traditional” ways of life, at least in part.

  2. Thanks for the comments.

    You write:

    “In a way, and I don’t know if this is part of my old radical self, but I almost wanted to downplay those developments because it reaffirms something radicals have been saying about our struggle in the ME: that it will subvert traditional ways and increase consumerism and capitalism. I think that is a positive step, but there is some truth in the radical’s assessment that liberal democratic institutions and systems will slowly rid the area of “traditional” ways of life, at least in part.”

    I don’t know. I mean, I know that capitalism, modernization, globalization, consumerism (however you want to frame it) will change things. But I also think the revolutions desired by leftists (and the totalitarian governments that often follow) have generally been much more damaging to “traditional ways of life” than liberal regimes.

    For example, China. Maoism completely eliminated “traditional ways of life” through a radical reorganization of society which included killing, imprisoning or “reeducating” scribes, priests, and other “non-productive classes.” Today, China has opened up to foreign investment, people are participating in the market, etc. But the regime remains authoritarian (to put it mildly). Then you have India, a liberal democracy, where the situation is much different. Independence and political pluralism did not eliminate tradition.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s