HUSAYBAH, Iraq --
Store owners here open shop every morning to provide a wide variety of goods and services. The store owners welcome Marines with open arms, eager to meet new friends, but it wasn’t always this way.
Lt. Col. Steven J. Grass, the battalion commander of Task Force 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines, Regimental Combat Team 5, and the mayor of Al Qa’im walked through the streets of Husaybah to visit shops and greet the townspeople here, June 2.
“You can see how relaxed the people are now,” said Farhan Tekan Farhan, the mayor of Al Qa’im. “Before, if anyone was seen talking to Marines, insurgents would come back after the Marines left and kill them.”
Shops closed down and citizens avoided the market due to the possibility of losing their lives.
“In 2005, no one would go to the market,” Farhan said. “Insurgents forced
shop owners to close their businesses and leave, or just robbed them. You could sense the fear there.”
Locals came out to greet the Marines walking in the street and approached them with confidence. Marines still go back to their bases after patrolling Husaybah, but now Iraqis have others to watch over them. The Iraqi Police and Iraqi Army have trained to stand up against those who would bring harm to their city.
“Thank God security and peace have been restored to this city,” Farhan said. “We hope through the Iraqi Police, Iraqi Army and the Marines, that the situation stays like it is for years to come.”
Staff Sgt. Russell Baker, platoon sergeant, Jump Platoon, TF 2nd Bn., 2nd Marines, deployed to the Al Qa’im region last year and has noticed many changes in Iraq’s people and security forces.
“People used to be frightened of us,” he said. “Now they’re more likely to come up to talk and work with you. Iraqi Police are willing to step up and
take control of things, and they do it with minimal help from us. Compared to last year, I’ve seen a world of difference.”
With Iraq’s security forces taking charge in Husaybah, people can lead their lives in peace, make a living for their families and continue to work towards the self sufficiency and success for their city.