This was just forward to us from our good friend Dave Danelo over at On Point. His man Andrew Lubin is embedded in Iraq.
A chance encounter last weekend at Al Asad Air Base in Iraq became an opportunity to talk more about the future of Ramadi. ON Point's Andrew Lubin bumped into Ramadi's Mayor Latif Obaid Ayadeh at the Al-Asad airstrip. Lubin was on his way to Baghdad, and Mayor Latif, who had been meeting with American officials to discuss reconstruction and civic improvements, was returning to Ramadi. Brief excerpts of the impromptu interview and free-wheeling discussion are below:
ON Point: How long have you been the mayor?
Latif: Less than one month. I am the first mayor in a long time. There is a lot to do.
ON Point: What are you doing to make Ramadi a better place to live?
Latif: I'm cooperating with the Marines, and trying to bring jobs, reconstruction, and civil order to my town.
ON Point: What kind of jobs?
Latif: Real jobs. Right now the Marines (Civil Affairs Group & Civil-Military Operations Center) are providing demolition and some repair jobs. These are good for now, but we need stable and permanent jobs quickly.
ON Point: Do you need anything else from the Marines?
Latif: No. They are training the IA's [soldiers], my IP's [policemen], and providing us with the weapons, training, and trucks we need. They are doing a wonderful job.
ON Point: Do you get the necessary support from Baghdad?
Latif: No. They say that they are too busy to help. In the new budget these is supposed to be money for Anbar Province and Ramadi, but we get much less than we are promised.
ON Point: Why are they doing this to you?
Latif: I have my suspicions, but they deny it. But the future of Baghdad is in Anbar and Ramadi, if they would only see it.
ON Point: Is the terrorist activity still crippling your town?
Latif: No, the Marines have done a wonderful job. It is not yet peaceful, but it is much better than it was a year, or even 6 months ago.