Thursday, January 18, 2007

Iraqis discuss future during Qaada meeting

Staff Sgt. Angela McKinzie
2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI) Public Affairs

MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq — Iraq's government has significant issues at the community level to deal with - from security to providing basic services. Communication between leaders at the local level is the key to solving some of these issues.
Leaders from the southern Baghdad area gathered to discuss current problems and solutions during a Qaada, or council meeting, here Jan. 10.
Col. Ali, the 4th Battalion, 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division commander kicked off the meeting by commenting about the current security situation in the southern Baghdad area.
"There has been a decrease in the kidnapping and killings in southern Baghdad," the colonel said. "The rest of the bad guys have to be banished."
After the security situation was briefed, Ali spoke of what the Iraqis could to help their country.
"We have these (Qaada) meetings and we talk about the same things, but we need to evaluate what we are doing," he said. "If Iraqis are not going to do their jobs then they stay home. We will get people who can do the jobs."
He also assured the local leaders that their security needs would be met and that his brigade would help keep them safe. He urged local leaders to support the security effort.
"If you know of bad guys in your area just let me know and I will arrest them," he said. "If you do not tell us who the bad guys are, then we cannot help."
After Ali finished briefing the floor was opened to others who wished to voice their concerns.
"We do not have any doctors in our area and not enough teachers," said Qada Nayif Khasback, a council member from Lutufiyah, Iraq. "We also do not have any emergency vehicles and emergency rooms for the injured."
Another concern of the Iraqis was propane. Propane vendors were taking some of the propane before distributing it to the local populace, selling it on the black market, which causes the price to rise and leaves citizens without propane.
"Let me know who is doing this and I will arrest them," Ali said.
New construction and renovations of buildings were another topic of discussion during the meeting.
"I think there should be a combination of new construction and renovations of (older) buildings," said Lt. Col. Bob Morschauser, commander of the 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) and native of Fairless Hills, Penn. "We have the funds available for these types of things." He also addressed the local propane shortage.
"Before people were selling propane out in the open," he said.
"Over the past two weeks people have not been selling propane out in the open."
Morschauser worked closely with the mayor of Mahmudiyah to organize the council meeting. During the meeting, leaders also discussed solutions for problems they had in their areas.
One member stated that he could get ambulances fixed and get them to the hospitals for use. Another leader spoke with a doctor during the meeting and made arrangements for health care for the local residents in his area.
Before the meeting ended, Col. Michael Kershaw, commander of the 10th Mountain Division's 2nd BCT and native of Huffman, Texas, closed with some encouraging words to the Iraqis.
"I believe that most of the problems can be solved by the people in this room," Kershaw said.
The group is planning to have more meetings in the future.

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