Keep up with essential planning news and commentary, delivered to your inbox every Monday and Thursday.
Iraq Beyond Baghdad
Though the cities faced many dangers in recent years, the situation has become less hectic recently, according to this report.
One journalist writes about the resurgence of public space and public life in Basra:
"After the launch of Operation Charge of the Knights in Basra in 2008 there was a large military presence in the city, and things felt better. You could see hairdressers and university professors go back to their work. Alcohol shops reopened, and family parks were everywhere. You could listen to songs coming out of cars, while in the past you had been allowed to put only religious songs on.
Everything is beautiful now. Even the builders resumed their projects, and you see fewer hijabs and more bareheaded women. We started listening to the beautiful sounds of weddings coming out of churches."