The turnaround in Sadr City in the last two months has been dramatic—abandoned dusty lots are now markets stocked with piles of produce and teeming with shoppers; storefronts display suits, purses, shoes, and cosmetics, Time reports. The ceasefire between Iraqi PM al-Maliki and radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has been successful in stopping violence and the US is working on repairing the slum's shattered infrastructure.
But the neighborhood is so shattered that it will take years to repair, and many residents are still fiercely distrustful of al-Maliki's government. "After what happened," says an MP aligned with al-Sadr, "people have started to hate everything that is connected to the government . . . People here see Maliki as the same as Saddam." A US military spokesman is more bullish: "We're not popping the champagne cork. But are we seeing positive trends? Absolutely."