It appears we're about to see the much touted success of the surge be put to the test. Many, including myself and my fellow Newshoggers, have speculated the drop in violence was as much or more due to ethnic cleansing of the neighborhoods and the out-migration of Iraqi refugees than any inherent success of the military tactics.
Well, the return of refugees from Syria has begun in earnest as the Iraqis' money and visas are running out and many will find they have nowhere to go as their homes have been occupied by members of an opposite sect. Mixed neighborhoods don't exist in Baghdad anymore. Even the US military is warning that influx could rekindle sectarian violence and disturb the fragile security our troops' lives bought over the summer and the Iraqi government is urging those with the means to remain in exile, to do so.
I pray for the Iraqis' sake the security holds but I fear that peace bought at gunpoint and enforced by concrete walls will not endure and our military cannot maintain the troop levels to ensure it. However, I take hope in something Phoenix Woman pointed out recently. [via]
Meanwhile, the place in Iraq that has had the biggest actual drop in violence and chaos recently is Basra, which had been an ungovernable mess as recently as three months ago. How did this occur? Well, instead of seeing a “surge” (read: escalation) in troop numbers, Basra actually saw the complete pullout of coalition (in this case British) troops, which resulted in a 90% drop in violence. Yes, you read that right: Ninety percent.
Now Basra isn't the same as Baghdad, but still, one might conclude that allowing Iraqis to solve their own intercine problems is the best solution. It certainly belies the handwringing that was going on prior to the surge about the bloodbath that would occur if we withdraw troops.