SECURITY IMPROVEMENTS PALPABLE BUT FRAGILERead the rest of my report as well as other PRT reports written by colleagues at RealClearWorld.
I arrived in Al-Hillah in the beginning of March 2008, and the changes since then have been notable. The gains in security during that time are reflected in an improved quality of life for the province's citizens. Babil -- the most populous (1.6 million) province in the south central region -- is the keystone for the south central region. The U.S. maintains a Regional Embassy Office (REO ) in Al-Hillah, one of four in Iraq (together with Basrah, Kirkuk and Erbil). Babil is largely located between the Tirgris and Euphrates and has been Iraq's breadbasket as well as an industrial center. The northern part of the province lies within the so-called "Triangle of Death," south of Baghdad. This was a Sunni area lying on the Sunni/Shia fault line and the stage in which active fighting was still taking place until early 2008. An embedded sister PRT is paired with U.S. forces in northern Babil, where the changes of the last 10 months have probably been most starkly visible. A place like Jurf as Sakr, a Sunni majority town in northern Babil, was the scene of terrible destruction one year ago. I walked down the main street early this summer and was able to visit stores and talk to shopkeepers, escorted by only two soldiers at a distance.
A view of some of the Babylonian Ruins, which have not been excavated, or maintained, for many years long before 2003.