View Full Version : Change in Iraqi province obvious in rare drive

10-08-2007, 02:17 AM
Change in Iraqi province obvious in rare drive (http://www.mcclatchydc.com/227/story/20223.html) - McClatchy, 7 Oct.

Definitely one of the more interesting slice-of-life stories I've read lately. Leila Fadel and Muhammad al-Duleimi, two reporters for McClatchy, drive unescorted through Anbar province to Jordan.

The Iraqi soldier at the last checkpoint before the Jordanian border stared at my passport incredulously. He couldn't write "American" in the log. There hadn't been an American at this checkpoint in years.
"Are you Iraqi?" he asked.

"No," I answered.

"What are you?" he asked, confused.

"I'm American," I answered, and when that still wasn't enough I added, "I'm Lebanese also."

He wrote down "Lebanese."

A few months ago, no American would have been foolish enough to do what I had just done: drive from Baghdad west through Iraq's Anbar province, long the hotbed of the country's Sunni Muslim insurgency, and into Jordan. The route was notorious for hijackings, kidnappings and roadside bombs, and passed some of the best-known symbols of the country's mayhem: Abu Ghraib, Hamdaniyah, Fallujah, Ramadi and beyond.

But western Iraq has changed, and the drive last Sunday was proof of that.
Not once in the seven hours that it took to travel the 360 miles or so was there a threatening moment. The concrete barriers that used to block traffic along the road at al Haswa and then later at al Rutba — so insurgents and bandits could assault cars more easily — had been shoved into the median. Traffic flowed quickly and smoothly ...
Plenty of interesting little vignettes:


After miles in the desert we stopped at a small restaurant in al Rutba where the name Bush was painted in white in three different spots in the parking lot, so customers could step on it. All along the route, the burned bodies of trucks and cars littered the roadside ...

The lot held several SUVs, which families rent for about $800 and pack with their belongings for the drive out of Iraq. The ones here would turn right in a few miles and head for Syria, which still lets fleeing Iraqis enter. Jordan has shut the door.

That was clear when we reached the border. Two lines were labeled at the crossing: "Iraqi" and "Arab and foreigners." Only three civilian cars had come that day. I was the only foreigner.

It was the only time all day when things grew tense. A Jordanian customs agent uncovered a turba, a small, round hardened piece of clay that Shiites rest their foreheads on when they pray. He threw it with disrespect. "This is that thing you pray on," he said ...

10-08-2007, 03:52 AM
West of Ramadi, that stretch of road has been relatively benign (in terms of threats to Muslim-looking folks) for quite some time.

It isn't some change that can be attributed to the surge or other dramatic efforts, just the hard work of Marines and Sailors, and the local BP and HP volunteers that aren't corrupt.