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August 22, 2006
New Security Plan Working?

After seeing violence in Baghdad and its environs escalate constantly during the first half of the year, the Bush administration and the Maliki government in Iraq scrambled to find a better security plan. Although not too many news outlets have reported this, the new plan appears to have had an effect (via Big Lizards):

Violence in Baghdad has declined in the past two weeks and all but ended in some formerly deadly neighborhoods, the U.S. military said in a cautiously upbeat report on Tuesday on a major security clampdown in the city. ...

Twenty-two raids in the past week against such groups in the capital had led to 37 arrests, Major General William Caldwell told a news conference. He presented statistics showing a 16 percent drop in the daily average of attacks in Baghdad since August 7, at 21 compared to 25 in the preceding two months.

"What we have seen in August is a downturn," Caldwell said, two weeks after beefed up U.S. forces and thousands of Iraqi troops and police launched a new phase of what Iraqi and U.S. leaders have called a make-or-break operation to pacify Baghdad.

In three particularly violent areas where intensive raids to root out militants have been completed this month, life was returning to normal and attacks were rare, Caldwell said -- a sentiment endorsed by a number of residents in the mainly Sunni areas of Ghazaliya and Amriya and the mixed district of Dora.

Two weeks is not much of a sample by which to extrapolate future performance. However, this does demonstrate that the US has finally applied force to the problem of the militias on both sides of the sectarian divide. Despite some initial griping from Nouri al-Maliki about the targeting of Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army -- Sadr is a political ally of Maliki -- the Iraqis appear pleased with the results.

Over the past couple of weeks, supporters of the war in Iraq, including myself, wanted to see some strategic and tactical adaptation to the sectarian violence. Clearly the militias had adapted themselves to the security patterns of American and Iraqi forces and had plans to escalate the violence in the capital until we responded. The new security strategy that has seen more troop commitments, and more importantly, the resolve to address the militias, has made a positive difference, at least initially.

We cannot afford to lose Baghdad to sectarian militias; we have the means to prevail over them; all we need is the will to do so. For the last few months it appeared that the Bush administration had gotten so caught up in their efforts to show some troop drawdowns that the overall mission had gotten lost. Bush himself made it clear yesterday that he would not allow that to happen in the time remaining of his term, and these results appear to bear him out. Let's hope that we continue this renewed sense of mission and dispense with the petty politics.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 22, 2006 6:43 PM

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» Working for peace in Iraq from everyone's a pundit
Captain Ed brings hopeful news just as I was starting to fear that rising violence would turn what many consider a de facto civil war into a full scale, declared conflict. He writes: Two weeks is not much of a sample by which to extrapolate future per... [Read More]

Tracked on August 22, 2006 8:44 PM

» Peaceful, Easy Baghdad Feeling? from Old War Dogs
Has anybody else heard anything about this before today? Or on any other news service besides what we used to call al-Reuters? Reuters reports that Baghdad has seen a marked decline in deadly violence in the past fortnight:Violence in Baghdad [Read More]

Tracked on August 22, 2006 9:22 PM


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