Market Opening Means Safer Shopping For Residents

October 6, 2007

With the opening of a new market in the Karkh District of Baghdad on September 30th, the residents of that neighborhood can now enjoy shopping and be safe while they’re doing so. The Karkh neighborhood has enjoyed an extended period of peace, which allowed the Troops from 2nd BCT, 1st Cavalry Division to work on civic projects such as school, clinic and market openings. One particular neighborhood of the Karkh District, called Sheik Ali is a mainly Sunni area that is surrounded by Shiite neighborhoods. Sectarian violence in the area has virtually came to a stand still, in the Haifa Street ara. Memories of violence in the recent past though, has prevented many of the residents from venturing to the markets throughout the rest of Karkh, according to Captain Vincent Morris.

“It was originally started with the unit we RIP’d (conducted a relief-in-place) with, 1-14 Cav, and they go the ground work laid,” said Capt. Matthew Bocian, 4-2 SCR’s Civil Military Operations officer. “And we are just riding on their coat tails here as it finishes.”

According to Bocian, the new Mashahda Market is currently the primary focal point for many of the residents in the neighborhood, for many reasons.

Mashada Market sits across from bullet-ridden, high-rise buildings - once a battleground in central Baghdad

“Sheik Ali has been fraught with unemployment and essential services issues and especially with the sectarian violence,” he said. “This market serves as a place for them all to go; they don’t have to travel outside their neighborhood and with markets being spread out in different parts of our AO (area of operations). This provides a safe market in their neighborhood, but it also provides jobs and a point of contingency of pride; it’s an area they can be proud of right in their own backyard.”

The new market has 37 garage-sized stalls. These will serve as individual stores. There is also a covered open-air area. Troops feel that hundreds of people in the area will benefit from the market and is locale in the neighborhood.

“I think this market is a great idea, it’s what we call a ’safe market,’” said Lt. Col. Rony Aguto, 4-2 SCR’s commander. “I think this market because of it’s location, proximity to people and the security that can be provided here, can be a great asset to the community.”

Many of the households in the neighborhood don’t have a constant source of refrigeration, so being able to shop daily at the markets is a very large part of the Iraqi lifestyle. The close proximity of the markets will be very important to the residents.

Lt. Col. Tony Aguto, commander of the 4th Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment attached to 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Division, speaks to vendors during the Mashahda Market opening in Central Baghdad, Sept. 30th

“This will be an Iraqi version of a mini-mall,” said Capt. Morris. “It will be a one-stop shop. They’ll be able to come here and get what they need to survive and sustain themselves.”

As shoppers visit the market, one of Morris’s platoons will visit the market daily. However, the majority of security duties will be handled by Iraqi Security Forces.

1st Cavalry Division News

I can appreciate how important it is to have a place to shop nearby. Back in 2001, my hometown in Kansas was struck by a major tornado. The only grocery store in the town was destroyed by the tornado and it took quite a over a year for the store to be rebuilt and restocked, so that it could be reopened. I remember clearly how inconvenient it was to have to drive to the nearest town with a grocery store to buy my groceries. I can just imagine, how much more difficult it has been for the residents of this neighborhood to not only have to worry about traveling elsewhere to shop, but have the added concern of safety to worry about. I’m sure this new market is a welcome sight to the residents of the neighborhood.


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