James Forsyth

Violence in Iraq down 70 percent since last March

Violence in Iraq down 70 percent since last March
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“Attacks are at the lowest level since September 2003, falling 70 percent since last March.”

So reports The New York Times in its latest piece on the situation in Iraq. The level of progress in Iraq since the US changed strategy in early 2007 and surged troops into the country has been quite remarkable. If anyone had predicted in January 2007 when President Bush announced the new strategy that the situation in Iraq would have improved so much by March 2009 they would have been dismissed for being absurdly over-optimistic.   

But as The New York Times points out the national elections in December this year are key to the country’s future:

“The national election, in which Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki is vying for a second term, is viewed as the crucial test of Iraq’s democratic transition, the moment that could prove the country’s ability to sustain itself. Or security could crumble, as factions struggle for power and ethnic and sectarian divisions flare.”

The importance of the December elections means that it would be strategic folly of the highest order to aggressively draw down troops before then. Thankfully Obama’s withdrawal plan, as opposed to his campaign rhetoric, seems to recognise that with only two of the 14 combat brigades scheduled to be withdrawn before then.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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