Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Violence down in Iraq? Not really

AP reports today:

"The number of American troops and Iraqi civilians killed in the war fell in September to levels not seen in more than a year. The U.S. military said the lower count was at least partly a result of new strategies and 30,000 additional U.S. forces deployed this year. Although it is difficult to draw conclusions from a single month's tally, the figures could suggest U.S.-led forces are making headway against extremists and disrupting their ability to strike back."

See, we who nay-sayed the Surge were wrong and W. and David Petraeus were right all along. How could we be so stupid to question W.?

There is one little fly in the ointment, though. Part or most of the decline in civilian deaths in Iraq may have more to do with the fact that there's fewer and fewer people to kill after almost two years of full-out ethnic cleansing by both sides, Sunnis and Shiites.

Newsweek reported at the beginning of last month that:

"According to the Iraqi Red Crescent, the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) has more than doubled to 1.1 million since the beginning of the year, nearly 200,000 of those in Baghdad governorate alone. . . part of the reason behind the decline is how far the Shiite militias' cleansing of Baghdad has progressed: they've essentially won.

'If you look at pre-February 2006, there were only a couple of areas in the city that were unambiguously Shia,' says a U.S. official in Baghdad who is familiar with the issue but is not authorized to speak on the record. 'That's definitely not the case anymore.' The official says that 'the majority, more than half' of Baghdad's neighborhoods are now Shiite-dominated, a judgment echoed in the most recent National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq: 'And very few are mixed.' "

UNHCR reports that:

"Displacement is rising as Iraqis are finding it harder to get access to social services inside Iraq and many Iraqis are choosing to leave ethnically mixed areas before they are forced to do so. "

The ethnic cleansers are running out of targets. The ones that can get out of the country are leaving in records numbers; strangley coinciding with the beginning of the Surge:


"The number of Iraqis applying for asylum in industrialized countries went up by 45 percent in the first half of 2007 compared to the previous six months, according to our latest quarterly statistical report on asylum trends in industrialized countries. . . Iraqis made some 19,800 asylum claims during the first six months of 2007 in the 36 industrialized countries included, an increase of 45 percent compared to the last six months of 2006, when 13,600 applications were received. The Iraqi number for the first six months is already approaching the total figure for all of 2006 – 22,200. Iraqis were the No. 1 nationality applying for asylum in industrialized countries in the first half of the year."

But why? General Petraeus and US Ambassador Ryan Crockers have told us and Congress that the Surge is making progress. Yesterday, they both issued a joint statement which read:

"We must maintain the momentum that together we have achieved. We are confident that you and your fellow citizens will continue to display determination, that Iraqi security forces will remain vigilant and that additional Iraqis will join our combined effort."

Yes, that momentum must be maintained, but in the meantime every Iraqi that's got a car and a little $ is heading for the door. If the Surge is a such a raging success, why are there 4.2 million Iraqis on the move?

And if the Surge is disrupting extremists ability to strike back how did they manage to bomb a US sponsored reconcilliation meeting in Baquba last week? How long now have we been mopping up Baquba?

Perhaps, the some of the reason behind the rosy news out of Iraq this week has more to do with the fact that the Mahdi Army, the part of it still under the control al-Sadr anyway, are taking a break. At the end of August al-Sadr called for a cease fire.


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