March 16, 2007

Decline In Deaths And Attacks Shows Surge Success

US and Iraqi generals pointed to sharp declines in both attacks and deaths in the month since the new Baghdad security strategy has been implemented as a sign of its success. Civilian deaths declined by 80%, and 2,000 displaced families have returned to their homes:

Iraqi and US generals have hailed a fall in insurgent attacks as proof that the Baghdad “surge” plan is begining to show results one month into the operation.

Yet despite an apparent fall in the number of kidnappings and murders, the scourge of car bombs and roadside bombs has not abated and most officers caution that the crucial bench-mark will be Baghdad’s death toll in the coming months.

General Qasim al-Mussawi, spokesman for the Iraqi operation, said that the number of civilians killed in the past month had fallen to 265, compared with 1,440 from mid-January to mid-February. But there was no way to verify the figures independently.

Major General William Caldwell, the spokesman for US forces in Iraq, said that “there has been an over 50 per cent reduction in murders and executions” since Operation Fardh al-Qanoon (Imposing the Law) began. But US and Iraqi forces still faced about 200 attacks each day.

Other indications of success have already been released. Over seven hundred insurgents now sit behind bars, and the Iraqis still have over 1,100 more suspects to process besides them. The efforts of American and Iraqi forces in their clear-and-hold strategy has increased the level of intelligence gained from residents of the capital, and momentum is on the side of the Coalition.

They need to ensure it stays that way. The initial results are impressive, but everyone understands that they have to be sustained in order to really change the paradigm on the ground. US and Iraqi forces have to project both strength and staying power in order to keep the insurgents from shifting momentum back to the terrorists, forcing the Coalition to abandon the people they've liberated from the militias so far.

Most importantly, though, the plan has saved lives in Baghdad, and will save more as the strategy progresses. If we do not hand victory to the enemy, we can prevail -- and leave Iraq with a functional, secure central government. Only by doing that will we keep terrorists from establishing bases there from which they can plan and execute attacks on American interests around the world ... and here at home.


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