Thirdly, though it’s down at heel and seen better days you can see that the downtown area - particularly the Corniche which runs alongside the Shatt Al Arab waterway, with its cafes and floating restaurants and the canals that spur from it - has real potential to be an attractive location. It’s often repeated to us that Basra used to be the ‘Venice of the east’ and while getting back to that is clearly some way off you can see how that may have been true and how it could be again.
Fourthly, there’s a strong and visible Iraqi Security Force presence – both police and army – on the streets. Checks points are set at regular intervals. Security has improved dramatically, and while the situation remains fragile it is incredibly encouraging that it is now the Iraqi Army that people rely on to provide security, not the UK or US.
That said, I’m told by many of the people who’ve been here for a number of years that the city is currently in a better state than they’ve seen it before and that visible progress is being made. And while it’s clear that the city’s going to need years of sustained economic growth and investment in basic infrastructure to bring it to where it should be - given Iraq’s relative wealth – it’s also clear that the city’s moving in the right direction.
To see the blog on the DFID website click here