Saturday, September 22, 2007

Welcome To Iraq

CNN’s Aneesh Raman working on a “stand up”.

The airport road, otherwise known as Route Irish was once the most dangerous road in the world, and in some ways it still is. Suicide car bombs and insurgent attacks on convoys were a normal occurrence several times a day. Insurgents would lie in wait, like a line of taxis at the airport, looking for a convoy to come past so they could drive into it exploding the car in a suicidal blast. It’s only a handful of miles from the relative safety of the Green Zone to the airport, but in the day it was a gauntlet of violence and carnage.

Today the government is working on a beautification project along the road. It’s employing hundreds of workers to plant palm trees and other vegetation in the dusty brown median that divides the twin two-lane roads. Huge, brightly colored billboards are going up welcoming visitors to Iraq. It’s all rather surreal in a way. The pavement is still heavily pockmarked from bomb blasts, military armored vehicles sit in over-watch alongside the road, heavily armed PSDs fly up and down at arrogant, breakneck speeds. All the while the new palm trees sway in the breeze giving shade to the carcasses of burnt-out cars lying in the sand.

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