November 1, 2005

SOME POSITIVE NEWS in the Christian Science Monitor:

Last January, Baquba was symbol of everything going wrong in Iraq – and its neighborhood of Buhritz was a symbol for everything going wrong in Baquba. . . .

But today, US commanders are pointing to Baquba as a symbol of what might go right. Every polling place stayed open all day for the Oct. 15 referendum that approved Iraq’s new constitution earlier this month. Violence was light, while voter turnout was high.

While Sunnis, Shiites, and ethnic Kurds of the city all have different visions of Iraq’s future, and bombs like the one that killed at least 30 civilians Saturday in a town near here are still common, Baquba is a reminder that at least short-term security gains are being made in many Iraqi cities, particularly ones outside volatile Anbar Province.

Asked why, Lt. Col. Rob Risberg, commander of the 1st Battalion of the Army’s 10th Field Artillery Regiment, scratches his head, then says it hasn’t been rocket science. “The Iraqi Army and the Iraqi police have really come along – they can handle most of what comes their way now,” says Colonel Risberg, from DeLeon Springs, Fla. “We’re here to back them up, but I think we’re seeing the benefits of getting cops on almost every street corner.”

Read the whole thing.

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