There's an article by Nick Meo on page 32 of today's Sunday Telegraph that must bring joy to the hearts of anyone who reads it. Its a wonderful news story, which inevitably means that it will receive almost no coverage, and I can't even find a link to the Telegraph on-line site. Its titled 'Basra dares to hope as the city is born again'. Its a long article, and I'll select just five short quotes from it.
Speaking of the freedom with which he and his wife now stroll around on Basra's corniche, Mr Hassan said
"But now we come here all the time and in the afternoon its so crowded, you cannot find a seat in the cafes. Basra has been reborn. The militias have gone, the people are happy, and we have our city back again."
"The mood has lifted business in the city too, raising hopes of reconstruction and an economic take-off, financed by Iraqi oil. It has even fuelled a property boom, perhaps the only one in the world now, with top end house prices almost doubling over the past year."
And referring to next week's elections in Iraq - "Lamp posts and vehicles across the sprawling city of one million are plastered with posters of the candidates. Most are well fed men in suits, not the scowling fundamentalists whose stars are waning. A quarter of the candidates are women."
"Frustratingly for the British, though, after years of fighting, they had only a minor role in the military operation ordered by the Iraqi Government last March which drove out the gangs, and allowed the transformation of the city to happen"
"US Navy Captain, Robet Lansden, who arrived in Basra two months ago to construct a bridge put the American philosophy succinctly "Once you've finished killing the bad guys, its time to spread the love"