Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Good News from Iraq: 31 Oct 2007

From MNF-I, Ramadi parade celebrates unity, security.

RAMADI — The last parade held in downtown Ramadi was by insurgent forces in the fall of 2006 when the city was gripped in daily violence.

Times have changed now as government officials and city locals recently held a parade down Route Michigan here. Capt. Aaron Southard, Information Operations officer for 1st Brigade Combat Team, said the parade speaks volumes when considering the former violence that plagued Ramadi.

“The Iraqis were able to conduct this event without any attacks or influence from terrorist organizations because stability is to the point now where events like this can happen,” he said. “It’s really surreal; the most recent parade was conducted in the fall of 2006 by al Qaida in Iraq. It shows that the capacity of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) is growing daily if not hourly.”

The parade was a celebration of the contributions of Sheik Abdul Sittar, who was killed last month, and for the ISF, who were instrumental in defeating al Qaida in Al Anbar province.

“The ill-intentions of al Qaida in Iraq, and their path line, which was anti-Iraqi, triggered a change here,” said Gen. Nasier Abadi, Vice Chief of Armed Forces of Iraq. “All across Al-Anbar and other provinces people are rising up and revolting against al Qaida.”

He said that although Anbar was the first province where people awakened to fight against terrorists, it’s definitely not the last.

“You can see the same thing happening in Diyala where the sheiks are organizing and getting the people to stand up,” Abadi said.

The voice of the people could be heard as city officials and ISF joined in the singing of the country’s national anthem and clapped along to the beat of the Ramadi Police band. As the security forces marched along the streets in crisp, clean uniforms, cheers from the side caused a strut in the stride of many of the troops.

“This is a day to celebrate what’s possible when local political leaders, government leaders, and tribal leaders work together for their people,” said Lt. Gen. James Dubik, Multi-National Security Transition Command commanding general. “This is a reflection of the success of operations and with the awakening of the people.”

The success of Ramadi, Dubik said, can be attributed to the rapid growth of the security forces in the city.

“The police force here have been a tremendous help in the security of Ramadi,” he said. “(In Anbar) they’ve grown from 11,000 to 21,000 in a few months, which is a huge success for Coalition and Iraqi forces here.”

As the last vehicle passed by, it reaffirmed the unity and commitment the ISF have for the people of Ramadi.