Iraq: October 11, 2004


 Muqtada al Sadr has ordered his armed followers to turn in their heavy weapons starting today. The five day process will leave the mortars, anti-aircraft guns, and just about everything but AK-47s, at three collections points in Baghdad. Most of the negotiations were with Shia tribal and religious leaders, who represent the majority of the population who want less fighting and more reconstruction. Like the Sunni Arabs, the Shias in Baghdad noted that once al Sadr's gunmen began fighting the police and coalition troops, the reconstruction projects stopped. Travelers from north and south Iraq tell of peace and growing prosperity, and the Baghdad Shias figured out how this works and pushed through a truce. Iraqi police and troops will supervise the disarmament, and try to enforce the new peace. Whether or not this will work will be clear in the next few weeks. There are some $500 million in reconstruction projects underway in the poor Shia neighborhoods in Baghdad. 


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