Iraq - an ordinary life emerging...

The provincial elections were held in a peaceful manner without major frauds at the end of January and generally ment a strengthening of the parties associated with the premier, alMaliki. The religious, sectarian based parties could not attract the same amount of voters as in the last election in 2005, and that is - for those who believe in a separation of politics and religion or sects - a sign of a politically more mature society.

The huge reduction in violence can be assigned to the fact that security forces now number upwards of 750 000 men, significantly better trained and freed from the earlier dominance from political militia groups. Iraqi police enjoys today a significantly better reputation among the population.

Coupled with ubiqitous checkpoints and the "Sahwa - Awakening" local forces, present at almost every block, have created a situation where the Iraqis feel much more secure.

The horse races at the track in Ghazaliya, Baghdad took part twice weekly even when violence was raging at it's worst. But now many more spectators attend.

And gambling increases also...

The Mahdi army keeps a low profile. It's leader Muqtada al Sadr sticks it out in Iran and proclaims the fight will continue until the last US forces leave Iraq before the end of 2010.

Founded in 2003, the Mahdi Army is still regarded as the most powerful militia in Iraq although it suffered defeats at the hands of Iraqi and US forces in operations in Baghdad and the southern city of Basra last April and May 2008. During the summer of 2008, Muqtada alSadr began a comprehensive reform of his Mahdi Army militia that was expected to lead to the emergence of a movement similar to the Lebanese Hezbollah. The goal at that time, he said, was to demilitarise his "army" by creating a "special" force to exclusively fight the American "occupiers", while the bulk of his militiamen would play a social role. These new fighters, who have swapped the Kalashnikov for the pen, are called Mumahidoun and are tasked with preparing the ground for the return of the Mahdi, Shiite Islam's 12th imam who disappeared as a child and is expected to return one day as a saviour.

For the alSadr movement to regain any credibility in time of the parliamentary elections at the end of this year (2009), they have to present a political program outlining how the country should be governed so that the people's basic needs are met. I strongly doubt Muqtada's capacity in that field...

But, all security treaths are definitely not eliminated. Weapons caches are regularly found and points to an influx of weapons and equipment for advanced bomb production. Like shoes with extra thick soles for those who believe that blowing oneself and a few others into pieces is the greatest thing one can do for his religion... Copper plates is used to create metal penetrating charges and much of this advanced technology and equipment is said to come from Iran. Without doubt, certain groups there definitely want to prevent a build-up of a democratic, prosperous Iraq. And even more without doubt, Iran also has the capacity to send millions of fanatic terrorists across the border if they think needs are...

Like the horse races, the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra keeps on rehearsing, and compared to before, give monthly public concerts.

An ordinary life is emerging.


Copyright: Lennart Berggren / Axiom Film 2009

watch tv report about the Security situation in Iraq   English version    February 2009


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