This is certainly not the story I saw on the networks over the past week. Imagine my surprise when I saw the title of this post as the headline Yahoo gave this Reuters story.
The level of violence in Baghdad has fallen sharply since July thanks to troop reinforcements and the new government’s efforts to reconcile warring Shi’ites and Sunnis, Iraq’s national security adviser said on Tuesday.
Mowaffaq al-Rubaie insisted that the sectarian and insurgent bloodshed that has seized Iraq was not a civil war, a description U.S. President George W. Bush’s administration has strenuously avoided in the face of mounting casualties.
“This is absolutely not a civil war,” Rubaie told Reuters in an interview during a visit to Japan. “Al Qaeda tried for that for three years and failed miserably. But it has created a crack between Shias and Sunnis.”
Some analysts say repeated talk of a civil war could pressure the Bush administration into a withdrawal of the 135,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, especially if Bush’s approval ratings fall further ahead of U.S. congressional elections in November.
Rubaie declined to give a date for the pullout of American troops from Iraq, saying it would depend on the security situation, but he said it was reasonable to expect that a majority could be gone by 2008.
He challenged the notion that violence was out of control in the Iraqi capital, saying it had peaked last month.
“The surge was only until mid-July,” he said. “The number of attacks is down from mid-July by 45 percent and extra-judicial murders … are down 35 percent since mid-July. We’re there, we’re definitely on the mend.”