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Monday, April 25, 2005

Iraqi security situation

I recently noted that American casualties in Iraq are down from the immediate pre-election period, but are about the same as they were from May 2003 through July 2004.

Unfortunately, the latest evidence suggests that violence in Iraq is escalating once again. The details were in today's Washington Post:
Violence is escalating sharply in Iraq after a period of relative calm that followed the January elections. Bombings, ambushes and kidnappings targeting Iraqis and foreigners, both troops and civilians, have surged this month...Hundreds of Iraqis and foreigners have either been killed or wounded in the last week.

"Definitely, violence is getting worse," said a U.S. official in Baghdad, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "My strong sense is that a lot of the political momentum that was generated out of the successful election, which was sort of like a punch in the gut to the insurgents, has worn off." The political stalemate "has given the insurgents new hope," the official added...
The details are not good:
The U.S. official said this week that overall attacks had increased since the end of March. Roadside bombings and attacks on military targets are up by as much as 40 percent in parts of the country over the same period, according to estimates from private security outfits....

In city after city and town after town, security forces who had signed up to secure Iraq and replace U.S. forces appear to have abandoned posts or taken refuge inside them for fear of attacks.
The story ends with these words from an Iraqi resident of Baghdad, Waleed Sharhan, "There is no hope that this country will be better."

In September 1967, lots of people -- including the Johnson White House -- were encouraged by a high turnout election in South Vietnam that was going to bring legitimacy, constitutional order, and reduced violence to that country. Just over four months later the North launched the Tet offensive. That marked a turning point in the war, optimistic reports from Washington were no longer believed and support for the war eroded significantly. From that point forward, debate centered very much on how to withdraw most securely.

The Iraqi elections were just about four months ago.

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