Thursday, February 05, 2009

Back in Baghdad in transit to Sadar City at CPIC

I arrived at CPIC (Combined Press Information Center) at 5 AM on the 4th of February. Journalist passing through sleep here, and by day, the Iraqi journalists hang out here. General Austin gave a press conference on the elections, starting off by saying how proud he is of the Iraqis. With 51% of the population coming out to vote and great security, the Iraqi’s proved they are on their way to creating a sustainable democracy.

General Austin gave some statistic. Weekly there are less the 100 attacks throughout the country, a figure 10 % lower number than it was 18 months ago. During the elections there were 11 incidents while in the 2005 elections, there were 300.

He praised the Iraqi Army for their readiness. “The Iraqi police lag behind in readiness, a year to a year and half.” he said, but is confident with the training, they will be ready in time for the 2011 pullout. Next stop for Phin and I is Sadar City, where we will see this training first hand while embedded with the Louisiana National Guard MP’s once again.

The general gave an informative recap of the elections nationwide. The next concern is guarding against people who are unhappy with the outcome. Ambar province still has security problems and terrorist being trained in Iran are still slipping across the boarder.

Today I walked over to the Iraqi Parliament building, which is steps outside the Press Center and took pictures of Sheik Kalaf Al Ulaian who is hoping to run parliament. He is from a Sunni party. The results of the elections will be announced at the Rasheed Hotel, also close by. I’m headed over there shortly before the next leg of our journey.

left to right- General Austin/ Sheik Kalaf Al Ulaian ( follow up note- this Sheik lost)