By Spc. Courtney MarulliApril 30, 2007
FORWARD OPERATING BASE LOYALTY, Iraq (Army News Service, April 30, 2007) - Historic Abu Nuwas Market in Baghdad was once a flourishing part of the city that provided a variety of shops, restaurants, lounges and hotels that people from around the world came to see.
Recently, the street was besieged with car bomb attacks and was shut down and closed off to the population. Shop owners and restaurateurs either left the area or stayed and watched the area slowly deteriorate.
Under Operation Fardh Al-Qanoon, also known as the Baghdad Security Plan, the Abu Nuwas Market is headed for re-opening and public use.
Rebuilding has begun. Iraqis under the protection of Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, currently operating as part of the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, is making it possible.
Maj. Anthony G. Judge, the executive officer for 1-504th PIR, said opening the market will help stimulate the economy by providing Iraqis with jobs and places to spend their money on various goods.
Allowing the Iraqis to create a flourishing market is something they can take pride in. The project is not a coalition project. Instead, Maj. Judge said, it is a project planned, directed and executed by Iraqis.
Coalition forces are on hand to provide protection and offer advice. Protection is also provided by commercial contractors from Dyncorp. Since the barrier project is going to allow traffic to travel down streets again, Maj. Judge said plans are in the works to create a secondary route for Dyncorp vehicles to use.
Maj. Judge said the first phase of the project is to create traffic control points where Iraqi security forces can check vehicles and where people enter. Side streets were blocked off by large cement barriers that are offset to allow pedestrians access, the major said. The concrete barriers are a temporary measure until security improves in the area.
The project planning to get the Abu Nuwas Market up and running again pre-dated the Baghdad Operations Command, said Lt. Col. John Rudolph, the civil affairs officer for Multi-National Division - Baghdad.
"Actually, it was the Rusafa Command, Iraqi police and Iraqi Army, who has the lead for security of the Abu Nuwas Market project," Lt. Col. Rudolph said. "The 1-504th has area security as part of their patrol area."
One of the important factors is things need to be done right for the Iraqi people, but with the least amount of pain for them, Maj. Judge added.
The first day of the project went smoothly as the barriers were laid in place. Once entry control points are functioning and all the side streets blocked off to vehicles, the Iraqi people can once again feel free to walk down the street and shop in peace without the threat of a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device.
"VBIEDs continue to hurt, but they are less frequent," Maj. Judge said. "The next challenge lies in getting the shop and restaurant owners to come back and start up their once-lively businesses."
(Spc. Marulli serves with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division Public Affairs office.)