Monday, November 26, 2007

Good News From Iraq

Amir Taheri, in his column today, shares good news from Iraq that goes beyond merely the violence index.

* More than 70 percent of the cells created by al Qaeda in Iraq have been dismantled, with vast amounts of money and arms seized from terrorists and insurgents. The so-called Islamic State in Iraq, set up by al Qaeda in parts of four provinces, has collapsed.

* Iraqis who'd sought temporary refuge in neighboring countries are returning home in large numbers - 1,000 a day returning from Syria alone.

* Thanks to mediation by Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, leader of the Shiite coalition, the three groups that had withdrawn from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's coalition government are expected to return to the fold.

* The British forces' handover of Basra to Iraqi authorities was completed without a hitch; Iraq's second largest city is rapidly returning to normal.

* Iraq's national currency, the dinar, is trading at its highest level since 1990 against the Iranian rial, the Kuwaiti dinar and the US dollar.

* Iraqi oil production is at its highest since 2002. Oil Minister Hussein Shahrestani recently notified OPEC that Iraq intends to produce its full quota next year.

* There's a rush of applications to set up small and medium businesses. In Baghdad alone, the figure for October was 400, compared to 80 last August.

* The fourth American university in the Arab world, and the first in Iraq, has started work in Suleymanieh, close to the Iranian border.

He also has bad news to share, and he is not short on it. It should not surprise anyone that there is lots of bad news coming out of Iraq. (There is bad news coming out of America, after all.) But on balance, the news is good.

IRAQ today is a hundred times better than what it would have been under Saddam in any imaginable circumstances. Statistics of violence don't begin to measure the efforts of a whole nation to re-emerge from the darkest night in its history. And in that sense, the news from Iraq since April 2003 has always been more good than bad.

No comments: