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Petraeus, the surge and the view from Baghdad

Within a few hours George Bush will speak to the American public. It isn't too hard to imagine what he will be saying. He will rely on what General Petreaus has said in the last 24 hours about the situation in Iraq - that is, that the surge has seen some successes in Iraq and that some 30,000 troops could be pulled out if Iraq or back by mid 2008.

The rather positive view of how things are faring in Iraq is not shared in Iraq. As The Independent reports:

"By the time General Petraeus had finished speaking yesterday the slaughter in Iraq for the previous 24 hours could be tallied. It was not an exceptionally violent day by the standards of Iraq: seven US soldiers lay dead and 11 injured in the capital; other instances of sectarian violence included a suicide bomb which had killed 10 and wounded scores near Mosul while 10 bodies were found in Baghdad. Three policemen were killed in clashes in Mosul, and a car bomb outside a hospital in the capital had exploded, killing two and wounding six.

In Baghdad, on the surface the overt violence appears to have diminished. There are fewer loud explosions. But, the city is now being partitioned by sectarian hatred and fear; by concrete walls and barbed wire. Claims that the US military strategy is paving the way for a stable society bear little resemblance to the reality on the ground.

The US is accused of manipulating figures relating to violence to fit their case, ignoring evidence which shows that the influx of 30,000 troops has done little to end the continuing bloodshed."

Over at the NY Times, a news analysis has this take on the situation in Iraq:

"The assessment that Ryan C. Crocker, the American ambassador to Iraq, gave to Congress on Monday left unmentioned or glossed over some of the most troubling developments of the past nine months. His portrait of Iraq did not include many of the signs of deepening divisions between Sunni Arabs and Shiites and within each sect, which have raised fears among many Iraqis that their country will fracture further."

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