McClatchy Newspapers, August 14, 2006
TIKRIT, Iraq – As security conditions continue to deteriorate in Iraq, many Iraqi politicians are challenging the optimistic forecasts of governments in Baghdad and Washington, with some worrying that the rosy views are preventing the creation of effective strategies against the escalating violence.
Their worst fear, one that some American soldiers share, is that top officials don’t really understand what’s happening. Those concerns seem to be supported by statistics that show Iraq’s violence has increased steadily during the past three years.
“The American policy has failed both in terms of politics and security, but the big problem is that they will not confess or admit that,” said Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish member of parliament. “They are telling the American public that the situation in Iraq will be improved, they want to encourage positive public opinion (in the U.S.), but the Iraqi citizens are seeing something different. They know the real situation.”
When L. Paul Bremer, then the top U.S. representative in Iraq, appointed an Iraqi Governing Council in July 2003, insurgent attacks averaged 16 daily. When Saddam Hussein was captured that December, the average was 19. When Bremer signed the hand-over of sovereignty in June 2004, it was 45 attacks daily. When Iraq held its elections for a transitional government in January 2005, it was 61. When Iraqis voted last December for a permanent government, it was 75. When U.S. forces killed terrorist mastermind Abu Musab al Zarqawi in June, it was up to 90.
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