Ernesto Londoño of the Post reports that local reconstruction teams have been launched at two sites in Karbala and Najaf, as they take advantage of security gains to improve the regional infrastructure and boost the local economies. The two teams are part of the provincial reconstruction team project that currently has 29 teams around the country. There's not a lot of detail on what the teams will do, but the governor of Najaf said he hoped the team there would help speed up the construction of an international airport. (Najaf is a major pilgrimage site for Shi'ites.) Also on Saturday, aides to Moqtada al-Sadr accused the U.S. of violating a cease-fire by rounding up his followers in a southern Baghdad neighborhood.
Stephen Farrell of the Times pens a satisfying overview of the situation in Basra for the Week in Review section. It's broad ranging, touching on the improvements there (which are many) and the remaining challenges (equally numerous.) Armed gangs and Islamists are no longer ruling the streets, but residents want to know why it took four years for it to happen. Why didn't the British help clean up the city long ago? The British respond they did confront the militias, but only an Iraqi-led solution, such as the Operation Charge of the Knights, would truly clean up the place. And now the Americans are looking to see if the Basra solution can be applied to Sadr City or Mosul. The upshot? No.
Daniel Bergner, writing for The New York Times Magazine, has a dreadfully sad story on Sgt. Shurvon Phillip, who suffered a grievous traumatic brain injury in Iraq and now can no longer care for himself. It's a long, heartbreaking article, looking at the phenomenon that is afflicting so many in the U.S. military today.
The Post's Tom Ricks reprints an email from a sobered Army captain who has gone to too many funerals and memorial services. He wants policy-makers to be cognizant of the aftereffects of the liberal use of military force.
IN OTHER COVERAGE
Christian Science Monitor, USA Today and Wall Street Journal
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