By Army Maj. Dave Olson
Special to American Forces Press Service
Feb. 11, 2009 - For thousands of years, fishermen near Ma Baynaa al-Nahreen, or "the Land Between the Two Rivers," sold their catch to others to sustain their existence. Today, the Saydiyah Fish Market stands as a classic example of where Iraqi fishermen sell their wares to their neighbors from across Iraq.
Senior Multinational Division Baghdad leaders from the 4th Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony Feb. 9 with their Iraqi security forces partners to mark the re-opening of the market, which fell to disrepair during the war.
Muzhir Ali Salman, General Cooperative Union chairman, welcomed the attendees to the market's compound along Cherry Street in southern Baghdad's Saydiyah community. He thanked coalition forces for starting the project to rejuvenate the fish market and the commanders who worked on the project.
"This is the main fish market in all of Iraq, not just Baghdad," he added.
The fishermen sell their fish wholesale to merchants from other Iraqi provinces as well as retail to the citizens of Baghdad.
"We thank coalition forces for their contribution to this project," Brig. Gen. Faiswl Malikmhsen al-Talall, commander of the 2nd National Police Division's 5th Brigade, said. "I appreciate the readiness of the people and their ideas to embrace progress."
The fish market is important not only to Saydiyah, but also to the rest of the Iraqi capital, Sheik Abdulnazzaq, the Saydiyah Tribal Support Council chairman, said.
The 1st Brigade Combat Team's embedded provincial reconstruction team displayed a tremendous effort in using the co-ops in Baghdad and the neighborhood councils to come up with this fantastic opportunity, Army Col. Ted Martin, the brigade's commander, said.
"We are priming the pump to bring a better life back to the Cherry Street Market," he said. "The only reason we can do a project like this is because of the increase in security in Saydiyah. It was a hot spot for insurgent activity, but now all the sects get along to live together peacefully."
(Army Maj. Dave Olson serves in Multinational Division Baghdad with the 4th Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team public affairs office.)