...as tragic and dangerous as the ongoing violence is to our shared vision of a free and prosperous Iraq, it is not representative of the Iraqi people's sentiments toward one another. In July, a poll by the International Republican Institute, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to democracy promotion, found that 94% of Iraqis said they support a "unity" government representing all sects and ethnic communities, with only 2% opposed. Some 78% of Iraqis opposed Iraq being segregated by religion or ethnicity, with only 13% in favor. Even in Baghdad, where the worst of Iraq's sectarian violence has occurred, 76% of those surveyed opposed ethnic separation, with only 10% favoring it. The challenge of the Baghdad Security Plan and its accompanying effort at national reconciliation is to realize the overwhelming majority of Iraqis desire to live in peace with one another against the violent minority who seek to impose their vision of hatred and oppression.A clear, open-eyed, but still optimistic, account of the state of the war. Read it.
These programs are already beginning to show positive results. The Iraqi Ministry of Defense reports that the crime rate in Doura has been reduced by 80%. In the Rashid district, Sunni and Shiite political leaders, tribal leaders and imams met and signed an agreement forswearing violence. The tribal leaders went a step further by renouncing protection for tribal members who engage in sectarian violence.
Although it is too early to determine whether these success stories will be replicated throughout the city, this initial progress should give Iraqis, as well as Americans, hope about the future. Contrary to those who portray Iraq as hopelessly mired in ancient ethnic and sectarian feuds, Iraqis themselves want to put the divisions of the past behind them. The Battle of Baghdad will determine the future of Iraq, which will itself go a long way to determining the future of the world's most vital region. Although much difficult work still remains to be done, it is imperative that we give the Iraqis the time and material support necessary to see this plan through, and to win the Battle of Baghdad.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
The Battle for Baghdad
U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad writes about the situation in today's OpinionJournal:
Posted by Tom at 9:33 AM