Fitness clubs are in ... in Iraq
BAGHDAD - Across a mirrored room from stationary bikes and an occasional treadmill, men in tank tops knock back protein shakes and pump iron to loud hip hop.
It's a common scene in America - and the latest craze in Baghdad.
In a city of few diversions and long cut off from the outside world, the boom in health clubs represents another sign that Iraq is slowly emerging from decades of dictatorship and war.
At least 300 gyms and fitness centers are believed to be operating in Baghdad, compared with about 30 before the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, according to people who work in the industry.
These are a people who have regained their self-respect and are looking toward the future; how could it be construed otherwise? There is palpable progress in Iran, but it is fragile. Though leave we should, and will, we simply mustn't abandon this campaign, or these people, prematurely.