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    From Book Market to Fish Market : Ambassador Hears Local Concerns

    Ambassador Crocker Baghdad Walking Tour

    Courtesy Photo | Ambassador Crocker tours the bustling Shorja Market.... read more read more



    Courtesy Story

    AFN Iraq

    Baghdad -- Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker visited several Baghdad neighborhoods today in a walking tour which only the improved security atmosphere could have made possible.

    Accompanied by Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Hammond, commanding general of the 4th Infantry Division, Crocker walked from the 4th ID's base at the former Iraqi Defense Ministry to Baghdad's ancient Book Market, still recovering from a car bombing barely one year ago. The ambassador stopped to greet members of the Sahwa (Concerned Local Citizens) group helping to maintain order in the Market area.

    Crocker and his group picked their way beside the street's ongoing sewer rehabilitation project, funded by the Commanders' Emergency Response Program (CERP) program. Gaping holes in the street today bear witness to ongoing public works projects.

    Arriving at the Market, the ambassador engaged several local vendors in discussion of their business and personal concerns. Topping the list of concerns was the chronic shortage of electricity.

    Moving on to nearby Mutanabbi Street, the ambassador met passersby who agreed that the improved security situation was a tremendous relief, but stressed that the new emphasis must be on improved provision of services to the area.

    From the Mutanabbi area, the ambassador and his team drove the bustling streets of the Shorja Market, one Baghdad neighborhood that is definitely open for business. Shorja is patrolled by another Sahwa group, though the only security forces apparent were the police. Shoppers moved busily from store to store.

    Finally, Crocker stepped out for a walk along picturesque Abu Nawas Street, the famous way along the left bank of the Tigris recently reopened in response to improved security in the capital. Between the street's stately buildings and the river lie fish markets and a playground tailor-made for the children who play there once again. The ambassador and Iraqi Col. Munam Hasim Fahd chatted with the owner of the Asmak Baghdad fish market before tucking into plates of charcoal-cooked Masghouf, the local specialty straight from the Tigris.

    Commenting to an Iraqi journalist after the sumptuous meal, the ambassador noted that the walking tour he had just made would not have been possible short months ago. A combination of Sahwa groups, over 100,000 new Iraqi security forces, and partnership with Multi-National Forces - Iraq have turned the security situation around. This improvement is setting the stage for an emphasis on job creation and services in 2008.



    Date Taken: 01.24.2008
    Date Posted: 01.24.2008 09:57
    Story ID: 15737
    Location: BAGHDAD, IQ 

    Web Views: 757
    Downloads: 733