Saturday, 17 March 2007

Is the Surge in Baghdad Succeeding?

Is the much-vilified 'troop-surge' in Baghdad working? Some people certainly seem to feel that it is. The drop in sectarian violence also seems appreciable, as the drop in numbers of bodies being found executed or tortured to death seems to attest. To be sure there has been death and carnage aplenty, but most of it has been outside Baghdad.

In Baghdad itself, there are the usual good news stories which may or may not illustrate some kind of trend, but more to the point is that US and Iraqi government forces seem to have taken over security in Sadr city and its militias have gone to ground. This an interesting article about the reaction of some American soldiers to the poverty of the slums of Sadr city which suffered throughout the 90s from the double affliction of US-sponsored economic sanctions and Saddam-sponsored neglect. Meanwhile efforts are also on in what are often called 'Sunni areas' to win over the populace. Here is an article about the 'surge' plan and the new commander of the American forces in Iraq.

What does all this mean? Are matters turning a corner in Iraq? Or is it that the chaos has simply moved outside Baghdad and will return once the surge is over? Have the militias stepped down permanently or will they return with a vengeance? And is the surge sustainable? Or will the growing clamour by Democrats bring it to an end prematurely? Here is a more pessimistic article that argues that Iraq is suffering from unsustainable mission creep. A counter argument is that the pacification of Baghdad will finally allow the government to start functioning properly, putting into action its plan for economic redevelopment. This will lead to the return of basic social services and the growth of trade which will help defuse many of the social problems Iraqis are facing.

I suppose time will tell.


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