Iraqis don’t see the same safe market as congressmen
January 11, 2020
He added, “This will not change anything.” At a news conference shortly after their outing, McCain, R-Ariz., and his three congressional colleagues described Shorja as a safe, bustling place full of hopeful and warmly welcoming Iraqis – “like a normal outdoor market in Indiana in the summertime,” offered Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., who was a member of the delegation. But the market the congressmen said they saw is fundamentally different from the markets Iraqis know. Merchants and customers say a campaign by insurgents to attack Baghdad’s markets has put many shop owners out of business and forced radical changes in the way people shop. Shorja, the city’s oldest and largest market, set in a sprawling labyrinth of narrow streets and alleyways, has been bombed at least a half-dozen times since last summer. At least 61 people were killed and many more wounded in a three-pronged attack there Feb. 12, involving two vehicle bombs and a roadside bomb. BAGHDAD, Iraq – A day after members of an American congressional delegation led by Sen. John McCain pointed to their brief visit to Baghdad’s central market as evidence that the new security plan for the city was working, the merchants there were incredulous about the Americans’ conclusions. “What are they talking about?” Ali Jassim Faiyad, the owner of an electrical appliances shop in the market, said Monday. “The security procedures were abnormal!” The delegation arrived at the market, which is called Shorja, on Sunday with more than 100 soldiers in armored Humvees – the equivalent of an entire company – and attack helicopters circled overhead, a senior American military official in Baghdad said. The soldiers redirected traffic from the area and restricted access to the Americans, witnesses said, and sharpshooters were posted on the rooftops. The congressmen wore bulletproof vests throughout their hourlong visit. “They paralyzed the market when they came,” Faiyad said during an interview in his shop Monday. “This was only for the media.” American and Iraq security forces have tried to protect Shorja and other markets against car bombs by restricting vehicular traffic in some shopping areas and erecting blast walls around the markets’ perimeters. But these measures, while making the markets safer, have not made them safe.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!