Democracy, whiskey, electricity

Electricity needed to cement Iraq gains

Al-Qaeda is beaten in its former stronghold of Ramadi but now the electricity supply is key to keeping the peace, a US military commander in the western Iraq city said on Thursday.

Residents in the battered city receive just a couple of hours of mains power a day

This is good news in the sense that our enemy is shifting from terrorist and insurgent networks to power distribution networks. Key point: Attacks in the area are down from 25-30 per day to less than one per week.

The “new strategy” unveiled nearly a year ago, which included the “surge” of additional US troops into the fight, was designed to create a safer and more secure Iraq. That goal has been, largely, achieved in most areas and now the effort to restore infrastructure has got to move into high gear.

Ramadi’s power levels are actually down from previous levels due to increased demands from Baghdad as the situation in the capital has improved dramatically. This, in itself, is good in the sense that Baghdad’s condition allows for increased electricity demands. But we risk losing some of our gains if the power in Ramadi, long a hotbed of anti-US activity, can’t be brought in.

If the relative lull in violence can be taken advantage of, we could be seeing peace break out all over the place.

UPDATE: And it’s not just the top-down big infrastructure projects that are going to help Iraq get onto its feet. It’s also got to be bottom-up, and this sort of thing is good to see: Micro-Grant Makes Business Boom for Iraqi Butcher.

If improved security allows the big projects like electricity, water, transportation, and communication to grow, little projects at the local and individual level can have an environment to start up and succeed.