Day By Day

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Baghdad -- The Need for Reconciliation

USA Today has a nice piece on the day to day operation of the surge in Baghdad.

Main points:

1) The American presence in neighborhoods is making a big difference:

When this combat outpost, named Casino, was established in January, Ghazaliyah was a battleground. Shiite militias had pushed Sunnis from their homes in this predominantly Sunni neighborhood. That drove many Sunnis to al-Qaeda, concentrated in southern Ghazaliyah, for protection.

Streets were empty and stores closed. Gunfire crackled around the outpost each day. U.S. forces would find 15 bodies a day in the area, many of them victims of sectarian killings, said Joyce....

"Now we have a bad day (when we) find one," Joyce said.

So this is the situation: a Shiite dominated army wants revenge on the Sunnis for atrocities committed in the past and the Sunnis have turned to al Qaeda for protection. Could those hindsighters who claim that disbanding Saddam's army was a blunder please explain how keeping a Sunni/Baathist organization that had committed innumerable atrocities on the Shiite majority, would be in any way better? The situation would just be reversed, and it would be the Shiites who would be harboring al Qaeda.

2) Civilians are benefiting greatly from the presence of American troops. Not only is the level of violence down, attempts by Shiite militias to ethnically cleanse Sunnis out of their neighborhoods have stopped. Americans have become very popular in the Sunni neighborhoods.

3) The presence of American troops has improved the confidence and performance of Iraqi troops.

4) This is very dangerous because it exposes American troops to harm. That's why casualties are up.

5) Both Shiites and Sunnis have unrealistic expectations:

Sunnis in the neighborhood trust Americans over Iraqi soldiers. "Shiites want the Iraqi army on every street corner, which isn't going to happen," Cartee said. "Sunnis want Americans on every corner, which isn't going to happen.
6) The only solution is reconciliation among leaders on sides.

And that is the point of the whole surge.

Read it here.