Baghdad will mark the first anniversary of Saddam Hussein’s execution on Sunday as a city transformed, largely as a result of thousands of his loyalists forging new alliances with the American military... Thousands have worked to revive Baghdad as a thriving and peaceful city
...The flagship of the post-Saddam reversal of fortune is Amariyah, a district desolated by the civil war. It has regained a sense of security unimaginable when President George W Bush ordered a surge of troops in Baghdad a year ago.
Armed American allies patrol triumphant in the streets having driven out al-Qa’eda-linked extremists. “We fought the terrorists and we won,” said Shami Karim, a 27-year-old fruit stall holder and gun-toting Knight of Mesopotamia, the name given to the £150-a-month guards co-opted to control the district.
“We like to live in peace and are glad that no one in Baghdad can call us terrorists. It has taken a long time but we appreciate the Americans.”
....The Pentagon assessed the impact of the “surge” in troop deployments in the capital and western Anbar province in glowing terms: “There has been significant security progress, momentum in reconciliation at the local and provincial levels and economic progress”.
While the potential for bloodshed remains, many Iraqis would appear to agree with the assessment
....“I’ve been a baker for 22 years,” said Mr Hussein.“I hung on for as long as I could but I was forced out until now. The Americans proved that ordinary life was possible here again.”
The US praises the bravery of Mr Karim and 60,000 fellow volunteers but the Baghdad government has condemned the alliance as a plot to strengthen its opponents.
The Sunni Muslim bias of the neighbourhood guards, known as Concerned Local Citizens (CLCs), alarmed the Shia-dominated government which has only accepted 5,000 into the police forces.
While furiously lobbying for a compromise, US commanders have pledged to cap the CLCs under 90,000 and encourage fighters to seek re-employment as civil servants.
“It’s not like we are arming these people,” said a senior US official. “They’ve been bold enough to come forward and fight al-Qa’eda.
We’re trying to integrate them into the set-up by providing salaries and a status but to a Shia Islamist government this has become an effort to restore a colonial Sunni regime.”
American largesse is not confined to men with guns.
A scheme that allows businessmen to claim £1,500 grants to reopen shops has “working in a weird, unbelievable way,” the US official said.
The latest breakthrough is the revival of Baghdad’s most prominent computer arcade.
....The supreme coalition commander, General David Petraeus, has refused to declare victory. He believes the situation is precarious because many al-Qa’eda sympathisers have fled north to the third city Mosul and thus pose a continuing threat.
“There isn’t one act that will cause everything to be perfect,” said a US officer in Baghdad.
“It’s not done yet.”
But even those pessimistic about Iraq’s long-term prospects believe insurgents can’t quickly recover from the pummelling meted out in the surge
Joost Hiltermann, an Iraq analyst at the International Crisis Group said: “Petraeus has accomplished enough militarily for the level of stability we’re seeing to persist beyond the end of the surge in the summer. I think he’s gained enough time for President Bush to leave office claiming Iraq is stable.”
The surge has worked. Paying militia men to be security guards has brought (some) relative calm and peace to districts. The fact is, an immediate withdrawal, as demanded by Islamists and Western leftists, would result in a bloodbath.
But the usual left wing doomsayer crowd will never change their tune. Pricks.
Here's a Guardian comment piece from 7th December 2007. Dismissing the surge altogether. Initially they said it wouldn't work. Then they said it wasn't working and Petraeus was wrong. Now it's just a 'sideshow'.
The surge is a sideshow. Only total US pullout can succeed
When resistance leaders are given an assurance that the Iraq occupation will end completely, real negotiations can begin
Resistance leaders! Fucking prick arsed wanker. See what we have to deal with?! You think blowing up people is a legitimate response to American soldiers attempting to provide security for the Iraqi people?