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  #1  
Old 11-05-2007, 08:44 AM
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Goin' Home

Thousands Return to Safer Iraqi Capital
Nov 3 02:39 PM US/Eastern
By STEVEN R. HURST
Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD (AP) - In a dramatic turnaround, more than 3,000 Iraqi families driven out of their Baghdad neighborhoods have returned to their homes in the past three months as sectarian violence has dropped, the government said Saturday.

Saad al-Azawi, his wife and four children are among them. They fled to Syria six months ago, leaving behind what had become one of the capital's more dangerous districts—west Baghdad's largely Sunni Khadra region.

The family had been living inside a vicious and bloody turf battle between al-Qaida in Iraq and Mahdi Army militiamen. But Azawi said things began changing, becoming more peaceful, in August when radical anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr ordered his Mahdi Army fighters to stand down nationwide.

About the same time, the Khadra neighborhood Awakening Council rose up against brutal al-Qaida control—the imposition of its austere interpretation of Islam, along with the murder and torture of those who would not comply.

The uprising originated in Iraq's west and flowed into the capital. Earlier this year, the Sunni tribes and clans in the vast Anbar province began their own revolt and have successfully rid the largely desert region of al-Qaida control.

At one point the terrorist group virtually controlled Anbar, often with the complicity of the vast Sunni majority who welcomed the outsiders in their fight against American forces.

But, U.S. officials say, al-Qaida overplayed its hand with Iraq's Sunnis, who practice a moderate version of Islam. American forces were quick to capitalize on the upheaval, welcoming former Sunni enemies as colleagues in securing what was once the most dangerous region of the country.

And as 30,000 additional U.S. forces arrived for the crackdown in Baghdad and central Iraq, the American commander, Gen. David Petraeus, began stationing many of them in neighborhood outposts. The mission was not only to take back control but to foster neighborhood groups like the one in Khadra to shake off al-Qaida's grip.

The 40-year-old al-Azawi, who has gone back to work managing a car service, said relatives and friends persuaded him to bring his family home.

"Six months ago, I wouldn't dare be outside, not even to stand near the garden gate by the street. Killings had become routine. I stopped going to work, I was so afraid," he said, chatting with friends on a street in the neighborhood.

When he and his family joined the flood of Iraqi refugees to Syria the streets were empty by early afternoon, when all shops were tightly shuttered. Now the stores stay open until 10 p.m. and the U.S. military working with the neighborhood council is handing out $2,000 grants to shop owners who had closed their business. The money goes to those who agree to reopen or first-time businessmen.

Al-Azawi said he's trying to get one of the grants to open a poultry and egg shop that his brother would run.

"In Khadra, about 15 families have returned from Syria. I've called friends and family still there and told them it's safe to come home," he said.

Sattar Nawrous, a spokesman for the Ministry of Displacement and Migration, said the al-Azawi family was among 3,100 that have returned to their homes in Baghdad in the past 90 days.

"In the past three months, the ministry did not register any forced displacement in the whole of Iraq," said Nawrous, who is a Kurd.

The claim could not be independently verified, but, if true, it would represent a dramatic end to the sectarian cleansing that has shredded the fabric of Baghdad's once mixed society.

The head of the ministry is Abdul-Samad Rahman, a Shiite appointed to his job by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is accused of promoting the Shiite cause to the detriment of Sunnis. Under Saddam Hussein, the Sunni minority ruled and heavily oppressed many in the Shiite majority.

Part of the inflow can be attributed to stiffening of visa and residency procedures for Iraqis by the Syrian government.

Mahmoud al-Zubaidi, who runs the Iraqi Airways office in Damascus, the Syrian capital, the flow of Iraqis has almost reversed.

What were once full flights arriving from Baghdad now touch down virtually empty, he told Al-Sabah, the government funded Iraqi daily newspaper. Now the flights are leaving Damascus with more passengers but the volume of travel is off considerably.

On average, 56 Iraqis—civilians and security forces—have died each day so far in this very bloody year. Last month, however, the toll fell to just under 30 Iraqis killed daily in sectarian violence.

More than four months after U.S. forces completed a 30,000-strong force buildup, the death toll for both Iraqis and Americans has fallen dramatically for two months running.

Across Iraq Saturday, 18 people were killed or found dead in sectarian violence, well below the year's daily average.

___

AP correspondent Sameer N. Yacoub contributed to this report.

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  #2  
Old 11-05-2007, 08:48 AM
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Good. So we will be able to start bringing our troops home soon?

Tom W
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  #3  
Old 11-05-2007, 09:03 AM
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Wouldn't that be nice?
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Old 11-05-2007, 06:28 PM
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Aren't there more than 2million Iraqi refugees? I think the troops will be there a while yet.
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  #5  
Old 11-05-2007, 06:46 PM
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First, the surge has to work. What we have at this point is overwhelming military force. Under those circumstances, militias join that force so as not become dead. That's why they joined AQII and that's why they switched sides.

Unless the Iraqi government can become functional in a matter of a few months to a year we're quickly going to return to the status quo ante.

If we get to that point, whomever is president will declare victory, blame violence on the Iraqi gov and the previous administration and begin withdrawing with much fanfare and paper streamers along parade routes for the returning heroes.

If however, the Iraqi gov does gain competency, which IMO is an open question, then whomever is president will declare victory, take all credit for the emerging Iraqi democracy and begin withdrawing with much fanfare and paper streamers along parade routes for the returning heroes.

B
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Old 11-05-2007, 06:56 PM
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I don't care at this point. Now they will be to busy shooting eachother to be a threat to anyone, and as long as the oil keeps flowing they can rot in there sandy hell for all I care.

We need to get out of the middle east, its a waste of everything, and turn our military towards more pressing and important matters. Like the Mexican boarder, Asia, ect.
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Old 11-05-2007, 08:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Hatterasguy View Post
I don't care at this point. Now they will be to busy shooting eachother to be a threat to anyone, and as long as the oil keeps flowing they can rot in there sandy hell for all I care.

We need to get out of the middle east, its a waste of everything, and turn our military towards more pressing and important matters. Like the Mexican boarder, Asia, ect.
But if they shoot each other, oil is disrupted. Unless they do kill each other off then we can go there and plant our flag.

Forget the Mexican border. We won't have the stones to get tough and do what is necessary. Even if we have soldiers there every 10 paces, what would it achieve if you don't allow them to open fire? Asia? See above. Unless you want to do something radical, what else is there?
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  #8  
Old 11-05-2007, 09:28 PM
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If I was in charge:

Our soliders would be on the boarder, and they would have shoot to kill orders. Whoever gets shot, tough ****. Don't try to jump an international border.

NK is a ticking time bomb.
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Old 11-05-2007, 10:39 PM
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And how many million soldiers would it take to cover the Iraqi border? We cannot even seal our mexican border.

Tom W
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  #10  
Old 11-05-2007, 10:46 PM
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Originally Posted by t walgamuth View Post
And how many million soldiers would it take to cover the Iraqi border? We cannot even seal our mexican border.

Tom W
Don't care about the Iraqi border. We can protect the Mexican, I know where we can get 250,000 troops to do it too.
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Old 11-06-2007, 02:37 AM
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We could also solve our nuclear waste problem and kill 2 boids with one stone.
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  #12  
Old 11-06-2007, 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Hatterasguy View Post
Don't care about the Iraqi border. We can protect the Mexican, I know where we can get 250,000 troops to do it too.
Well, if Iraq turns out to be Afghanistan II, you will care about it at that point. Even if we had 500000 troops to guard the Mexican border, it won't work because we don't dare to do what needs to be done. So what good would 3 million troops do? Even if you were Prez, you still cannot do it without the US public behind you. We would need less than 250000 to seal the border if we make it Berlin Wall II with automatic gun turrets and landmines. Question is whether we have the stones for it. We didn't, don't and won't.
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Old 11-06-2007, 09:36 AM
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But what will the toll be ten years after...
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  #14  
Old 11-06-2007, 09:39 AM
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Everywhere is freaks and hairies
Dykes and fairies, tell me where is sanity
Tax the rich, feed the poor
Till there are no rich no more

I'd love to change the world
But I don't know what to do
So I'll leave it up to you


Population keeps on breeding
Nation bleeding, still more feeding economy
Life is funny, skies are sunny
Bees make honey, who needs money, No none for me

I'd love to change the world
But I don't know what to do
So I'll leave it up to you

o yah

World pollution, there's no solution
Institution, electrocution
Just black and white, rich or poor
Senators stop the war


I'd love to change the world
But I don't know what to do
So I'll leave it up to you
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Old 11-06-2007, 09:45 AM
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But what will the toll be ten years after...
Will it be worse? Nobody knows. This is like comparing one Prez with another. It doesn't mean a thing. Circumstances are different so we will never know.

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