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Iraq: "Oasis" or denial?
Posted by: McQ on Monday, November 19, 2007

Ignoring the substance of my post on Baghdad this moring, Cernig, at NewsHoggers chooses to characterize it like this:
Righty bloggers like McQ are all agog today over an AFP story about bright lights and juice bars in "Baghdad's relatively safe Karrada suburb."
He then goes on to claim that the particular suburb in question has always been much better off than others there and is simply an "oasis", a nice way of claiming I and those like me are grasping at straws when it comes to Iraq.

Of course to make that case, Cernig must ignore what its inhabitants told the AFP correspondent
"Even two or three months ago we would have been afraid to come here at night," said 20-year-old Hussein Salah, an off-duty soldier, slurping a milkshake with his wife, Shihad, at the Mishmesha (apricot) juice bar in Baghdad's relatively safe Karrada suburb.


"The butchery is thriving. Sales are up 80 percent compared to the beginning of the year" when violence was at its peak, he said between mounds of freshly cut chicken pieces, mincemeat and mutton.

"I have been here 30 years and I love Baghdad," he said. "Now that the security situation is improving, my family can return."


"I was shocked when I returned to see how much things had changed," he said. "It's like a different city. Things are so good that I now think it would be possible for me to get married."
Somehow the fact that these people seem very impressed with the dramatic change there seems to have more credibility than Cernig's disdain. And it wasn't like anyone was trying to hide where the report was from (see bold). But relative safety in Iraq is, well, pretty relative, isn't it?

No, per Cernig, all this talk about progress is an "oasis" - an island in a continuous desert of death and destruction. And heaven forbid you should ever bring something like this to their attention:
Despite persistent sectarian tensions in the Iraqi government, war-weary Sunnis and Shiites are joining hands at the local level to protect their communities from militants on both sides, U.S. military officials say.

In the last two months, a U.S.-backed policing movement called Concerned Citizens, launched last year in Sunni-dominated Anbar province under the banner of the Awakening movement, has spread rapidly into the mixed Iraqi heartland.
Another oasis I suppose, even if the oasis in question is ethnically diverse Diyala province, an AQI hotbed prior to the surge.

The result?
Of the nearly 70,000 Iraqi men in the Awakening movement, started by Sunni Muslim sheiks who turned their followers against Al Qaeda in Iraq, there are now more in Baghdad and its environs than anywhere else, and a growing number of those are Shiite Muslims.

Commanders in the field think they have tapped into a genuine public expression of reconciliation that has outpaced the elected government's progress on mending the sectarian rift.
Oh my ... shiites joining the Concerned Local Citizens program? The bottom-up reconciliation process working toward pushing the national government toward reconciliation on a national level? And the LA Times reporting it?

Can't be true. Must be an oasis.

For the Cernigs out there, denial isn't just a river in Egypt, is it?
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Previous Comments to this Post 

As a youngster (I’m 65) growing up I remember the old TV shows or movies that showed the weary travelers arriving at the oasis only to find that the wells had been poisoned. The travelers would wail in the night "The Cernigs were here and they’ve poisoned the well." Well, perhaps my memory is failing and that last sentence did not occur.
Written By: tom scott
URL: http://
But relative safety in Iraq is, well, pretty relative, isn’t it?
I don’t have the numbers, but I understand that South Africa is in a head to head with Iraq for domination of the murders per thousand stat.
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
Here, I don’t usually do this very often.

I don’t neccesarily agree with your viewpoint on Iraq, but I think you got the best of Cernig - who is a smart analyst when he bothers to do the legwork - in this exchange. He didn’t really put much data into his response.
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
"The bottom-up reconciliation process"

A bottom-up political process. Hmmm. That sounds familiar. Kind of reminds me of democracy.
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