Babylon & Beyond

Observations from Iraq, Iran,
Israel, the Arab world and beyond

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IRAQ: Daring to venture out again in Basra

May 31, 2008 | 11:50 am

Today's Los Angeles Times includes a report on the recent bloodshed in Iraq's strategic southern city of Basra, the country's economic artery to the world.

Here is more about Basra:

Noor, 19, wears a gem-encrusted ring bearing the first letter in her name. Her sequined shirt says "beach dance." She wears light-pink lipstick and blue eye shadow. Her hair is wrapped in a white head scarf.

Before the government campaign two months ago, she worried about explosions and assassinations on her way to and from Basra's university. She heard stories of women being pulled from minibuses and shot. Police have estimated that more than 100 women have been executed by religious militants since last summer. Now Noor's family has ventured out tentatively for excursions to Basra's commercial Jazair Street.

But she wonders if elections, scheduled for the fall, will spark a new period of chaos.

"When the new government is formed, there will be more assassinations and confrontations as there have been many times before."

— Ned Parker and Usama Redha