Saturday, April 16, 2005

More on Mr. Zoellick

His is the picture below, and, yes, we do have a winner: mikey. Anyway, Mr. Zoellick traveled to Falluja himself to see all the progress that has been made:

Robert B. Zoellick, the deputy secretary of state, wanted to see Falluja for himself instead of relying on dry reports from the "interagency process," as he put it.

So midway through a trip otherwise focusing on Sudan, he stopped here Wednesday morning and sped downtown in an Army Humvee, squinting at the city through thick bullet-proof glass, then got out at an American base to speak to the new city council. He got an earful.

On the flight here, which was kept secret for security reasons, a State Department official shared a relatively rosy view of Falluja five months after the American military operation that largely rid the city of insurgents but also leveled a good part of it.

Ninety-five percent of Falluja's residents now have water in their homes, the official said, reading from a report. Eighty-five percent of people in northern areas that were not the focus of the American offensive have electricity. Three out of five medical clinics are now open.

But sitting with five members of Falluja's temporary city council, Mr. Zoellick asked the chairman, Sheik Khalid al-Jamily, "Do most people in Falluja have safe drinking water?"

The short answer was no.

"Two sewage pipes dump raw sewage into the river," he said. The Euphrates is an important source of drinking water. "The whole sewer system is in very bad shape."

Mr. Zoellick asked whether electricity and schools were functioning. "We brought in some tents and desks for schools," Mr. Jamily replied.

I wonder what Mr. Zoellick thought about all this.