"The Surge" plus one: A report card

Rick Moran
Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit reminds us that today is the one year anniversary of the beginning of the "surge" - the addition of 30,000 troops in Iraq and a change in strategy that has succeeded in dramatically reducing violence in the country.

Recently, there has been an uptick in attacks on Americans and civilians. Some of this is attributed to a desperate al-Qaeda who have been attempting to punish the Sunnis who joined "The Awakening" movements in the provinces. Other attacks are attributed to rogue Shia militias who seem to have increased their activity in recent weeks.

But according to the military, there is no backsliding by the Sunnis to eradicate al-Qaeda from their cities and towns nor has the drive to pacify Baghdad faltered. Current estimates have approximately 75% of Baghdad secure - a remarkable change from a year ago when militias from both Sunnis and Shias ran wild in the streets, murdering residents with impunity. 

While the military component of the surge has succeeded beyond most people's imaginings, political progress has been much slower and has produced mixed results. The Iraqi parliament is still riven with sectarianism and can rarely muster a quorum to do any business at all thanks to Muqtada al-Sadr and his supporters boycotting many sessions. The government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is still a sectarian nightmare with the major Sunni parties barely tolerating it. The police (and much less so the army) is riddled with militia infiltrators and is considered untrustworthy by many Sunnis. And in the south, the local Shia militias ignore the government in Baghdad for the most part and have to contend with the influence of the Iranians who refuse to halt their meddling in Iraqi affairs.

But there have also been some big strides made in the political arena. The cabinet has passed an oil revenue sharing program. While not approved yet by parliament, the government decided to go ahead and implement the program anyway.

A sensible de-Baathifcation plan was passed by parliament that, when implemented, will improve the economic conditions of many Sunnis who will be eligible to work for the government.

And just recently, something of a breakthrough was achieved when parliament passed a new budget, set a date for provincial elections this year, and allowed for a general amnesty that will release tens of thousands from Iraqi prisons. The details of all of these measures have yet to be worked out and there remain many sticky issues to be resolved. But getting the Sunnis, the Shias, and the Kurds to agree that all of these measures are necessary and should be dealt with proves that the Iraqis themselves - ever so slowly and painfully - are learning what representative democracy is all about.

All of these measures are necessary to affect a reconcilation of the factions and make Iraq a whole country. There will be many starts and stops ahead - a given when one considers the forces arrayed against their success (including the Democratic party in this country). And there is always a chance that the deep sectarian divisions will once again take over and the country could explode in violence.

But there are many Iraqis who are determined to keep the country on the path of peace and reunification. And the smart money isn't betting against them.


 
Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit reminds us that today is the one year anniversary of the beginning of the "surge" - the addition of 30,000 troops in Iraq and a change in strategy that has succeeded in dramatically reducing violence in the country.

Recently, there has been an uptick in attacks on Americans and civilians. Some of this is attributed to a desperate al-Qaeda who have been attempting to punish the Sunnis who joined "The Awakening" movements in the provinces. Other attacks are attributed to rogue Shia militias who seem to have increased their activity in recent weeks.

But according to the military, there is no backsliding by the Sunnis to eradicate al-Qaeda from their cities and towns nor has the drive to pacify Baghdad faltered. Current estimates have approximately 75% of Baghdad secure - a remarkable change from a year ago when militias from both Sunnis and Shias ran wild in the streets, murdering residents with impunity. 

While the military component of the surge has succeeded beyond most people's imaginings, political progress has been much slower and has produced mixed results. The Iraqi parliament is still riven with sectarianism and can rarely muster a quorum to do any business at all thanks to Muqtada al-Sadr and his supporters boycotting many sessions. The government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is still a sectarian nightmare with the major Sunni parties barely tolerating it. The police (and much less so the army) is riddled with militia infiltrators and is considered untrustworthy by many Sunnis. And in the south, the local Shia militias ignore the government in Baghdad for the most part and have to contend with the influence of the Iranians who refuse to halt their meddling in Iraqi affairs.

But there have also been some big strides made in the political arena. The cabinet has passed an oil revenue sharing program. While not approved yet by parliament, the government decided to go ahead and implement the program anyway.

A sensible de-Baathifcation plan was passed by parliament that, when implemented, will improve the economic conditions of many Sunnis who will be eligible to work for the government.

And just recently, something of a breakthrough was achieved when parliament passed a new budget, set a date for provincial elections this year, and allowed for a general amnesty that will release tens of thousands from Iraqi prisons. The details of all of these measures have yet to be worked out and there remain many sticky issues to be resolved. But getting the Sunnis, the Shias, and the Kurds to agree that all of these measures are necessary and should be dealt with proves that the Iraqis themselves - ever so slowly and painfully - are learning what representative democracy is all about.

All of these measures are necessary to affect a reconcilation of the factions and make Iraq a whole country. There will be many starts and stops ahead - a given when one considers the forces arrayed against their success (including the Democratic party in this country). And there is always a chance that the deep sectarian divisions will once again take over and the country could explode in violence.

But there are many Iraqis who are determined to keep the country on the path of peace and reunification. And the smart money isn't betting against them.