No. No we’re not…
Violence is escalating sharply in Iraq after a period of relative calm that followed the January elections. Bombings, ambushes and kidnappings targeting Iraqis and foreigners, both troops and civilians, have surged this month while the new Iraqi government is caught up in power struggles over cabinet positions.
Many attacks have gone unchallenged by Iraqi forces in large areas of the country dominated by insurgents, according to the U.S. military, Iraqi officials and civilians and visits by Washington Post correspondents. More than 100 Iraqis and foreigners have died in the last week.
“Definitely, violence is getting worse,” said a U.S. official in Baghdad, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “My strong sense is that a lot of the political momentum that was generated out of the successful election, which was sort of like a punch in the gut to the insurgents, has worn off.” The political stalemate “has given the insurgents new hope,” the official added, repeating a message Americans say they are increasingly giving Iraqi leaders.
This week, at a checkpoint bunker in Tarmiya where insurgents downed a helicopter, a teenager in sunglasses clutching an AK-47 marked the limits of the Iraqi army’s authority. “I wouldn’t advise going there,” the young Shiite Muslim recruit said, referring to Tarmiya, a Tigris River town a few hundred yards up the road that is dominated by Sunni Muslim landowners who were loyal to Saddam Hussein. “Those are some bad people there.”
Up the road, insurgents run relatively free, and last week they appeared to have used a hilltop outside of town to fire what they later said was a shoulder-launched, heat-seeking missile. The missile hit a chartered Russian-made helicopter Thursday, killing six Americans and five other foreigners, including a survivor executed by the guerrillas afterward.
The U.S. official said this week that overall attacks had increased since the end of March. Roadside bombings and attacks on military targets are up by as much as 40 percent in parts of the country over the same period, according to estimates from private security outfits.
I’d hate to see what it would look like if the country was turning to shit…