Via McClatchy. Oh, & here's a link to their homepage. It's a good bit of real newspaper work. Nice to see.
Despite U.S. claims that violence is down in the Iraqi capital, U.S. military officers are offering a bleak picture of Iraq’s future, saying they’ve yet to see any signs of reconciliation between Sunni and Shiite Muslims despite the drop in violence.Go read the whole thing. My emphasis.
That downbeat assessment comes despite a buildup of U.S. troops that began five months ago Wednesday and has seen U.S. casualties reach the highest sustained levels since the United States invaded Iraq nearly four and a half years ago.
And while top U.S. officials insist that 50 percent of the capital is now under effective U.S. or government control, compared with 8 percent in February, statistics indicate that the improvement in violence is at best mixed.
U.S. officials say the number of civilian casualties in the Iraqi capital is down 50 percent. But U.S. officials declined to provide specific numbers, and statistics gathered by McClatchy Newspapers don't support the claim.
The number of car bombings in July actually was 5 percent higher than the number recorded last December, according to the McClatchy statistics, and the number of civilians killed in explosions is about the same.
In the meantime, the most touted success of the campaign — an alliance between U.S. forces and some Sunni insurgent groups against al Qaida in Iraq — has angered many in the Maliki government, who accuse the United States of supporting groups that could ultimately turn against the government.
Former Sunni insurgents and tribal leaders will expect some kind of payoff for having turned on al Qaida, said Lt. Col. Richard Welch, who works primarily with Sunni tribal leaders and has negotiated with insurgents. Maliki’s government, however, has been hesitant to grant concessions, he said.
(Surprise, surprise, editor.)