On the third anniversary of the liberation of Iraq, there is no denying that the political situation there is dicey. A coalition government hasn’t been formed, and a large reason for this is a lack of leadership on the part of Prime Minister Jaafari, who is refusing to resign. Nevertheless, there are stories of hope and progress everyday, and they continue to be largely ignored by the mainstream media.
It’s striking that even the Kurdish Media sees bias
in the mainstream media:
The media in the U.S. and throughout the world has criticized the way the U.S. is handling the war in Iraq. They have published numerous articles that have heavily criticized US actions.
However, they fail to communicate the “good things” that are happening in Iraq. Nearly 2,000 educational institutions have been rehabilitated with USAID funding, unemployment has dropped considerably, and more hospitals are being built in the rural areas.
How about some examples? According to Reuters
, here is all that happened in Iraq Thursday:
BAQUBA – Eight people were wounded, including six civilians, when a roadside bomb targeting a police patrol exploded in central Baquba, 65 km (40 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.
KIRKUK – One traffic policeman was shot dead on Wednesday night in Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad, a police source said.
KIKRUK – Police said they found the beheaded body of a man in Kirkuk on Wednesday. The man was a member of the Kurdish militia, the Peshmarga.
And according to ABC News
, here is all that happened on the same day, in addition to ten deaths after a bomb blast:
Roadside bombs targeted police and army patrols in Baghdad and Baqouba, killing at least two Iraqi forces and wounding 18 people, including civilians.
A roadside bomb targeted a U.S. patrol in Ramadi Thursday, according to the U.S. military. No casualties were reported.
Gunmen in three cars ambushed five Shiite truck drivers on their way to the capital from the town of Mahawil, killing all of them and stealing their trucks.
Police discovered a headless body they believe belonged to a Kurdish man kidnapped the previous night in the northern city of Kirkuk.
Police found four corpses of men in their 20s, handcuffed and blindfolded, in Baghdad’s southern Dora district.
Reporting on the other six days of this week were much the same. Here is something they didn’t report: In the Kurdish north, eight more mass graves
were uncovered with the remains of 1,000 Iraqis.
I mentioned the Brookings Institute’s Iraq Index last week in regards to the number of fatalities of U.S. troops, but I want to point out a few other facts from the report. One of the Left’s favorite mantras against our winning peace in Iraq is that those that are doing the fighting and dying are largely poor, uneducated minorities. The facts show otherwise. As of February 4, the fatalities by ethnic groups are as follows: White 1,654, Hispanic 248, and Black 231. Moreover, they are more likely to be from the suburbs than the inner city: 40.5 percent versus 26.2 percent. Our mission in Iraq is an American one.
Iraq received the new Italian ambassador this week. His country has allocated 200 million Euros to the reconstruction of Iraq. The projects will focus on providing potable water and power plants.
In related news, a power plant opened just south of Basra. More than 500 Iraqis were employed in the $128 million project, which adds 5 percent to the country’s electrical output:
The Khor Az Zubayr plant will generate a substantial amount of power which will be transmitted and distributed across the country. Additional electric projects are ongoing. Although electricity is not at levels expected by U.S. residents, most Iraqi families are now getting more electricity than ever before; some for the first time ever.
Air Rafidayn will soon begin flights
between three Iraqi cities and the Chinese city of Guangzhou. These will be the first direct flights to China since the first Gulf War.
On Monday the third annual Rebuild Iraq Expo will open in Jordan. Companies from 32 countries will be there to take advantage of the enormous opportunities in Iraq:
The minister highlighted the role of the private sector and the benefits it can reap from the rebuilding of Iraq and the exchange of expertise and information with the international companies.
The Sweetwater Canal near Basra is undergoing renovations. When the project is completed it will provide cleaner water to 2.5 million Iraqis.
The canal has experienced problems with leakage, bank collapse, breaches and other structural problems; according to USACE, many of these problems were emergency repairs under the contract just completed.
The project included a geotechnical survey, pump assessment, head and sluice gate repairs, trash rack refurbishment, sediment removal, engine hydraulics and electronics overhauls, emergency canal repairs, operations training, design for permanent power for Pump Station Two and a computer system to track operations and maintenance.
Opportunities for women continue to be the focus for the Gulf Regional Division. A conference
held in Baghdad gave more than 250 Iraqi business women the chance to learn how to receive government contracts and a chance to network with their counterparts:
According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers GRD, many speakers spoke of how proud they were to be working with the Iraqi business women, gave tips on how to build their businesses and how to build their network of business contacts.
Japan has agreed to build a $119 million power plant for the city of Samawa. The first of three power plants for the province of 200,000 should be completed in under two years. Japan also agreed to provide $300 million to help modernize the country’s largest sea port at Umm Qasr
.Renovations on the Tikrit courthouse
The electrical renovation included new wiring and fixtures throughout the old building; bringing it to a standard which will support modern computer and electronic technology. A newly constructed annex building adds capacity to the facility and provides for a more efficient work flow. Included in the new annex is a reception area, restrooms and office spaces that will improve the functionality of the courthouse.
On the third anniversary of the invasion, troops who have returned to Iraq three years later have noticed the progress
“One of the biggest differences in Baghdad, and throughout Iraq… is that the Iraqi military is doing really well, and they’re taking over more pieces of the mission,” said Army Sgt. Maj. Linda Allen. “The second biggest difference that I see [between now and three years ago] is the infrastructure issue.”
The troops that spoke also said that the media and politicians need to have patience with the mission in Iraq.
U.S. and Iraqi troops conducted a free medical clinic for the residents of Tarmiya. The town’s leader expressed his thanks:
“Great things are happening here! This plan was put out in the Qada meeting,” said Sheik Saeed Jassim Hameed Al-Mashadani, the Qada leader. “I have a good feeling (about the medical operation) today because the people get free medical attention.”
“We have a good relationship with coalition forces,” added Jassim.
375 patients were seen in clinic.
Iraq elected a beauty queen:
Tamar Goregian, 23, the first Armenian Iraqi to win the pageant, was officially elected the “Iraqi Queen of Beauty.”
Nine contestants, including five Muslim girls, already withdrew days before the event, fearing after impacts for participating in a “taboo” competition. Eleven contestants remained.
Aside from queen of beauty, the audience also elected a teen queen and a queen of grace.
Life goes on.
In security news, Major General James Thurman told the Pentagon press corps that Iraqi security forces have proven that they are capable of protecting the Iraqi people. In Baghdad and the surrounding area, Iraqi security forces now outnumber coalition forces, and are increasingly taking the lead in operations. Thurman also said that the Iraqi people are proud of Iraq’s security forces, and tips on criminal and terrorist activity continue to increase:
“The Iraqi people further demonstrate their growing trust and confidence by the use of the national tip hotline,” added Thurman. “Over 3,000 tips have been received, and more than 2,500 of those tips have led to successful operations.”
Thurman said terrorists are failing. “Iraqi and Coalition forces continue to disrupt multiple terrorist cells that indiscriminately attack civilians, Iraqi security forces and the Coalition.”
A Marine general says the military can sustain current troop level in Iraq indefinitely, contradicting the claims of many opponents of the war that Iraq is “breaking” the military.
The two-week long Operation Cowpens ended this week. The operation resulted in the seizure of a significant amount of weapons and explosives:
Coalition forces have captured two dozen rifles, more than 10,000 rounds of ammunition and nearly three dozen rocket-propelled grenade launchers. Artillery and mortar rounds have also been plenty in the recovered items.
Soldiers on the scene estimated that enough explosive material has been found, along detonation cord and signaling devices, to rig up more than 300 improvised explosive devices. These roadside bombs have been an ongoing challenge to Soldiers in Bradley- Fighting Vehicles and in Humvees.
“We’ve put a stop to a lot of the IED making,” said Sgt. Daniel Reinhardt, a team leader from Broadview, Mont. “The more we’re out here, the more we stuff we bring out, the less the bad guys are here.
In Tikrit, four large weapon caches were uncovered during a joint U.S.-Iraqi operation. The caches included 27,000 rounds of ammo, four surface-to-air missiles, 118 artillery shells, as well as other assorted munitions. Seventeen suspects were detained.
Near Balad, an attack was repelled by an Iraqi-army unit, which returned fire after three gunmen attacked it. The attackers were later killed after firing on U.S. soldiers who arrived as backup.
In a combined U.S.-Iraqi operation, 99 rocket propelled grenades were captured.
In Yusifiyah, nine terrorist were detained, and one killed, in an operation by coalition forces.
A large weapons cache was uncovered in Balad:
The find includes more than 2,000 rounds of 7.62 ammunition, 337 60 mm mortar rounds, six 82 mm mortar rounds, two 60 mm mortar tubes, two mortar tripods (one of which had a base), one 125 mm projectile, one barrel of gun powder and 31 assorted munitions.
Near Hamaniyah, coalition forces killed eight terrorists in a raid. The operation also uncovered weapons, ammunition, and false identification documents.
This weekend a joint U.S.-Iraqi operation led to the capture of two terror-cell leaders, and 60 other terrorists.
This story is the kind that really warms my heart. Two terrorists in Baqubah were killed when the bomb they were making went off prematurely.
A top aid to Zarqawi was captured by the U.S. military. He was involved in the kidnapping of Italian Guiliani Sgrena:
Iraqi forces had captured Muhammad al-Ubaydi, a former senior intelligence official under the regime of Saddam Hussein and also a top aide to the al-Qaida leader in Iraq Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the U.S. military said in a statement.
The statement also said that al-Ubaydi, who headed the Secret Islamic Army, was captured by Iraqi forces in southern Baghdad on March 7.
The U.S. military said that al-Ubaydi was the prime suspect in the abduction of Italian journalist Guiliana Sgrena in February 2005, who was released a month later.
Al-Ubaydi was also responsible for assassination attempts against Iraqi officials and some other kidnappings, the statement added, without revealing further details.
His arrest was a serious defeat for the terrorists in Iraq:
Officials believe Abu Ayman’s capture will not only disrupt some of these attacks, and that his capture will undoubtedly save lives, but that he will also provide valuable information leading to the capture of other terrorists he has worked with in the past.
Acting on tips from local Iraqis, three hostages were rescued by U.S. and Iraqi forces in Mosul. The hostages were found chained to the wall of a basement.
The Iraqi army has assumed control of the province of Salah Eddin. The province is a stronghold for terrorists and ex-Baathists.
How about some stories of real American heroes?
Capt. Frank Diorio was awarded the Bronze Star for action in Iraq:
On April 11, insurgents launched an attack against the firm base using small arms fire, rocket propelled grenades and three suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices.
For several hours, the enemy continued the well-organized assault with intense, sporadic firefights that continued for the next three days.
Diorio’s quick reactions, concise orders and sound decisions enabled his company to repel the enemy attack while inflicting a high number of casualties.
No Marines from the company were killed during the attack.
Senior Airman Daniel Acosta II was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart for his actions in Iraq. He was injured while disarming an IED:
Acosta was serving as an explosive ordnance disposal technician Dec. 7 with a team assigned to investigate a crater for explosive devices. Acosta discovered and detonated one device, but another one exploded. Acosta lost an arm.
This week, the 1st Cavalry Division will be dedicating a memorial to its soldiers killed in Iraq. The monument will honor the 168 soldiers from the division who lost their lives in Iraq.
Two Marines with the 1st Marine Division were awarded the Bronze Star for action under fire:
[Russel] also discovered that a Marine low on ammunition was isolated by the attack.
Russel then raced across approximately 75 meters of open terrain while under fire from at least six insurgents with Cyparski close by.
An enemy round struck Russel in the helmet, knocking him to the ground with a concussion.
The two Marines managed to get the ammunition to the isolated Marine with Russel bleeding profusely from wounds to his face and arms.
They then rushed back to direct the fight and establish accountability. Finding two men missing, the two Marines rushed across the open area again to retrieve a wounded Iraqi soldier despite explosions from more than twelve enemy grenades and a stream of machine gun and small-arms fire.
An Army Reservist killed in Iraq was awarded the Silver Star:
Witkowski was firing a .50-caliber machine gun mounted on a Humvee that was providing cover for a convoy when an improvised explosive device entered the vehicle. Witkowski threw his body, covering the IED as it exploded and killed him, in an act which saved the lives of others.
The good news continues–maybe you’ll start seeing it from more venues soon.
–Bill Crawford lives in San Antonio, Texas. He blogs at All Things Conservative.