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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Analysis: Gauging the Iraq Surge

Council on Foreign Relations

March 26, 2007
Prepared by: Lionel Beehner

It’s still too soon to tell whether the U.S. troop surge will be a success or failure. Baghdad’s death rate is down, according to an update from Kenneth Katzman of the Congressional Research Service, but bombings in “belts” around the capital and area provinces like Diyalah are up. U.S. casualties are down in February, but a number of well-coordinated suicide attacks, particularly one against Shiite pilgrims en route to Karbala, suggest that sectarian violence remains. “There is a real glimmer of hope, but no proof of progress” (NYT), write the Brookings Institution’s Jason Campbell and Michael O’Hanlon. General David Patraeus also sounded optimistic (BBC) and said by early summer a clearer picture of the strategy’s effectiveness should emerge. The surge is not even half-complete, he added. Only ten thousand out of an expected twenty-five thousand additional American soldiers have been deployed.

The surge also consists of roughly thirty joint U.S.-Iraqi security bases scattered throughout Baghdad to allow U.S. and Iraqi forces greater round-the-clock access to insecure neighborhoods, writes Monte Morin in Stars & Stripes. Markets in the capital are closed to daytime vehicle traffic. The result has been a drop in civilian casualties (WashPost), Pentagon officials say. Previously deserted neighborhoods, such as the Karada district in eastern Baghdad, have returned to life. Shiite slums like Sadr City have been temporarily cleared of militias. And the Shiite Mahdi Army, while not exactly neutered, has been quieter as of late and lying low, perhaps waiting out the surge to fight another day. Policymakers from Iraq and its six neighbors met in Istanbul March 21-23 and released the 36-point "Marmara Declaration" (PDF) outlining further steps, beyond a simple troop surge, needed to stabilize Iraq.

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