Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Iraq: An Update on the Baghdad Security Sweep

(I'm reposting this from Monday because of some new info- SDM)
Three weeks after U.S. and Iraqi forces began a second major security sweep, Baghdad neighborhoods seems quieter, if not safer. But can it last? And has the sacrifice of "quality of life" literally and figuratively been too great?

The U.S. command asserts that murders are down 36 percent, but there are contradictory accounts in the mainstream media of the extent to which the sweep may be succeeding, so Kiko's House went to the source and contacted several Baghdad bloggers for their up close and personal assessment.

Said BT at Baghdad Treasure:
The situation is better but not mainly because of the major sweep. Simply because people are no longer going out in the streets as they used to. My parents, for example, are locked in the house. They are afraid to go even to the market, and if they do, they go and come back quickly before someone blows up himself among them in the market.

Add to this the unlimited number of Iraqis who left and are still leaving Iraq. But still, the sweep is one of the factors that helped in this "quiet before the storm" thing. The question is: will Baghdad stay calm after the end of the campaign?
According to Nabil, who blogs at Nabil's Blog:
In my neighbor neighborhood, its like there is no life. All shops are closed. You go out in the street, you don't find cars nor even people, so I just don't know what to say about it.

I am so sad about what is happening in my country.
Zeyad at Healing Iraq says that:
You are partly right about waning violence . . . But really, it's only a decrease in attacks against American troops. The violence is taking a new shape these last few weeks: Iraqi-on-raqi violence.
Omar at Iraq the Model notes that the security sweep is in western and northern Baghdad at this time and he lives in the eastern party of the city, but adds:
Violence levels seem to be a little bit lower these days, but I suggest we wait until the operation covers the rest of the city.
IraqPundit is an unidentified Iraqi exile with an obvioius anti-mainstream media ax to grind.
Here's his take on the situation:
The lives of many Baghdadis are improving, at least for now. Indeed, to borrow a phrase from the apocalyptic NYT, if their lives haven't improved "by almost all measures," they've improved by the most important one. Perhaps, to echo WaPo, the debate's not quite over after all.
Since Aug. 7, about 12,000 additional U.S. and Iraqi troops have been sent into the capital as part of the security effort, dubbed "Operation Together Forward," and have covered four of the most problematic capital neighborhoods.

A Marine provides this assessment via email to
The Daily Dish:
Wonder why the press is ignoring what has been going with operations in Baghdad? There were literally thousands dying there in June and July, but almost none now. If you read The New York Times or Washington Post and even the WSJ, you would think your experience here in Iraq is all an illusion.

I don't want to paint any overly rosy picture of things here as I never have indulged in that practice before, but we have control everywhere now (up to a point). They are still capable of launching small attacks against our forces, still able to blow up Iraqi Police in large numbers sometimes, and yes, they can still murder each other in Baghdad in sectarian violence. But, we are waging our war right now almost completely on our terms.

Where are Thomas Ricks and Max Boot on these events? Even if short-lived and part of an ever changing chain of events in Iraq, news-worthy events are happening that are not all blood and guts.
Meanwhile, the carnage continues, albeit not right under the eyes of the security forces:

* On Tuesday, Iraqi police found 26 bodies in different neighborhoods. Some were blindfolded and had their hands tied behind their backs. Some showed signs of torture.

* Also on Tuesday, an attack on the Baquba office of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr killed two and injured another. Gunmen also killed seven people and wounded four in four other shootings in the city about 30 miles (48 kilometers) north of Baghdad.

* On Monday, at least 15 people were killed and 63 others wounded when a suicide car bomber detonated at an Iraqi police checkpoint near the Interior Ministry.

* Also on Monday, 28 people died in fighting between Iraqi Army soldiers and members of a militia loyal to Moktada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite cleric, near Diwaniya. Then on Tuesday, at least 27 people were killed trying to take advantage of the turmoil when a leaking pipeline where they were siphoning oil exploded outside the city.

* On Sunday, at least 50 people were killed in various acts of violence across the country, including two people after a suicide car bomber attacked Iraq’s largest newspaper inside its fortified compound in downtown Baghdad.

Despite Sunday's high death toll, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said he did not foresee a civil war and that violence was abating. He insisted that his government was making progress in combatting attacks by insurgents and sectarian clashes between Shiites and Sunnis:

We're not in a civil war. Iraq will never be in a civil war. The violence is in decrease and our security ability is increasing.
(Photography by Alaa Al-Marjani/The Associated Press)

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