IRAQ PROGRESS REPORT
Michael Barone reports some encouraging developments in Iraq,
Talking to Chalabi afterward, I got a far more optimistic picture of Iraq than has been painted in most of the press. The north and the south are calm; opposition to the United States in Baghdad and the Sunni triangle to the north is limited. There are no clashes between Shiite and Sunni Muslims or between Kurds and other Iraqis. Meetings of the organizing council have been harmonious and productive. Much of the negative press, Chalabi argues, is due to translators who have their own anti-American agendas and give American and other reporters their version of what is going on rather than what the Iraqis being interviewed are saying.
Further, he lists numerous accomplishments:
The formation of an Iraqi national army has begun. 30,000 Iraqi police have been hired. An Iraqi civil defense corps is being formed. Coalition forces have captured or killed 38 of Iraq’s 55 most wanted. Thousands of lower-level Baath Party loyalists have been rounded up or otherwise dealt with. The Iraqi Central Bank has been made independent. Iraq has returned to the world oil market. All of Iraq’s universities have reopened. Power and water are, in most places, at prewar levels, and we’re making progress in Baghdad. The food redistribution system has been restarted. Nearly all of Iraq’s 240 hospitals and 1,200 clinics are open. Over 100 newspapers have begun publishing. In all major cities and in 85 percent of the towns, municipal councils have been formed of Iraqis. Ambassador Bremer has helped establish a new National Governing Council. It has begun exercising executive authority, appointing ministers, preparing the way for a new national constitution.
There’s obviously still a whole lot to be done, but this is a reasonable start.