Monday, November 19, 2007

The return of Baghdad's nightlife

Further proof that the surge is working. I bet Reid is kicking himself for saying that the war is lost. What the Republicans should do an run ad with Reid's infamous words of defeat intoned over shots of the improved conditions on the ground and the quotes from this article:

And then, suddenly, you've arrived and the mirage has become an oasis of generator-driven light; a colourful jumble of trendy juice bars, cosy restaurants, fruit shops, roadside eateries and fish vendors, where children play, families dine and lovers meet.

"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.

"Now we sometimes sit outside here till one or two in the morning. It is quite safe. The security situation is vastly improved," said Salah, the orange light from a nearby flashing palm alternatively brightening and dimming his clean-shaven face.

Declines in Iraqi civilian casualties and a sharp reduction in bomb and mortar attacks have sparked optimism that the capital is at last starting to revive.


"As you can see, things are normal here. It's after eight o'clock and the streets are still full," he added, pointing to the groups of people, families and even single women wearing headscarves strolling up and down the road.

"Six months ago we had to close up by 7 pm, now we stay open till 9 or even later," he said, as live carp flapped about in a tank inside his small stall plastered with pictures of Iraqi Shiite clerics.


Up the road butcher Halim Sayed Ahmed, an Egyptian with a round face and hint of a moustache, is counting his lucky stars he didn't follow the rest of his family to Cairo when the conflict began ripping Baghdad apart two years ago.

"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."