Video - Baghdad, Iraq - On Tuesday General David Petraeus will be testifying before the U.S. Congress, and President George W. Bush will reportedly address the nation about the situation in Iraq. This week we continue to evaluate the progress of the surge over the last 6 months. Alive in Baghdad last reported on General Petraeus when he testified before the Congress back in January. At that time he suggested security contractors would be necessary to fulfill the duties left vacant by the lack of sufficient troops to carry out the surge.
Alive in Baghdad has spoken with a number of Iraqis and spent an uneventful afternoon at one checkpoint in Baghdad to take our own look at how security is progressing. Despite the rhetoric on all sides, many are critical of the Prime Minister’s apparent failure to take steps to establish political reconciliation.
Some cite the security forces themselves, and many of these same forces, in particular Iraq’s National Police, resent the charges from outsiders that they are incapable, when they have been given so few tools to work with.
Others reacted with shock and disbelief that anyone would imply there were any successes from the security plan. Checkpoints are seen as little more than a nuisance by many Iraqis, while others feel the security surge is having some success and want the efforts to continue. Unfortunately, the control of checkpoints by sectarian groups continues to be particularly frightening in some areas of Baghdad and Iraq.
Particularly controversial, the decision by the United States military to begin supporting certain Sunni tribes with money and weaponry, in exchange for fighting Al-Qaeda, has brought concerns of many shades. Some are quick to note that not only did this element being attributed to the surge begin months before the surge, it also has limited effect on the most important issue facing Iraq’s security, ongoing ethnic rivalry. Other critics worry the results could be much worse and that these Sunni tribes could, “become independent power centers in a fracturing Iraq or turn against the Baghdad government.”
Above all of these questions sits one lurking in each Iraqi’s mind, “Do the setbacks outweigh the successes of the Surge?” The increasing presence of checkpoints and the fragmentation of Baghdad into communities gated behind blast walls and razorwire does not bode well for whatever will come after the surge.
All this month we will be looking at the Surge and the current security conditions in Baghdad in “The Surge, a Citizen Perspective” where we will combine videos of events taking place in Baghdad since the Surge began, with our newest content, including testimonials written by our staff from their personal experiences and contacts in the field. We believe this report will further demonstrate the importance of Alive in Baghdad as one of the only resources bringing an unfiltered grassroots perspective of life in Iraq. Please consider a one-time or ongoing subscription donation to support our work. We are depending on you to keep us Alive in Baghdad.