Aside from security concerns, the order also reduces the huge traffic jams caused by the numerous checkpoints. The downside, if any, is being felt mostly by one particular class of Baghdadis: taxi drivers. They can now work only every other day and still have to live with sluggish traffic and expensive fuel.

Still, things are a long way from perfectly peaceful. Bombs continue to disrupt the calm of Baghdad. The suicide bombings carried out by al-Qaeda constitute the largest number of incidents. At the same time there has been a sharp decline in the number of bombings set off by remote control on the part of the regular insurgents.

As we noted in earlier reports, we feel safer about moving around in the city now than we did a month before. I have recently been to districts in Baghdad where a month or two ago I wouldn’t have thought of going to. In the last week or two I’ve showed my ID to soldiers and policemen in checkpoints dozens of times. A few months ago this was considered an extremely risky thing to do — especially for someone whose ID shows a name and profession such as mine. “Omar” is a pure Sunni name and everyone here knows that scores of young Baghdadi men were killed by death squads just because they had the name.

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