Thursday, September 22, 2005

cont. (i am posting quickly in case the power goes off so i won't lose everything)

9/21 afternoon

visited with the assocition of muslim scholars. this is a very sunni group and we met at the "saddam mosque" that was built 10 years ago. lots of security, scared our translator even to be there. met with sheik m. discussed current problems ranging from children who need medical attention to tortures and killings....and of course the political situtation in iraq. the muslims scholars association sees this as an entire racists war and that the us is trying to divide up iraq by pitting groups against one another. however, they are all trying to stay together and stem the tide of factionalism.

it was my turn to cook dinner for the group today. we had tortilla soup, without cilantro, chili, or tortillas. however, everyone was hungry enough to eat my cooking anyway.

9/22 am
we went to sadr city and met with the council there. the sadr city area of baghdad is one of the poorest and has between 1-2 million people. they have their own malitia (see sadr) and patrol that part of town and say it's now the safest part of the city - no bombings. shi'ia, sunni, turk, etc. all live there and it is democratically run with a 3-person elected council. we weren't able to spend time in the city visiting the homes, but there is some good information on this on the cpt site. perhaps we'll get back next week.

during the afternoon we went to the green zone, only that area of the convention center - not the us embassy. our meeting was with col. in charge of the iraq assiatance center. this is the army's cival affairs office that is suppose to run things like jobs, women's shelter, compensation for those who have had deaths or damage (i.e. tank runs over a car), find detained family members. VERY interested notes from that meeting...much along the notes that i published during my visit in 2003 (see prior blog dates). more on this later.

this brings things up to date. i'm not posting what we will do in advance due to security concerns. however, i will say that some areas of the city have improved since my last visit in nov-dec 2003 but some things are worse. water and sewer better. electricity about the same or slightly better, telephones back on and many now can buy mobile phones. business slightly better so is employment. traffic worse, more streets permanently blocked off and barricaded. long gasonline lines. good news is that i see people out on the streets during the day included lots of children on their way home from school while i was out shopping around lunchtime. there is more food in the market, better variety and prices are inexpensive so people look a bit better fed and healthier. on the bad side, because of the bombings, fewer make it to the hospitals, universities, and other places where they need to go. almost no one goes out after 8 pm due to security. all have guns and many carry them out on the streets.

it's not bosnia yet.


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