In early 2007 the United States began a military surge into Iraq, adding some 38,000 troops to the force and increasing their focus on major Iraqi cities. Nearly two years later, with the troop level still not back to pre-surge levels they are preparing a reverse in course.
The military is preparing to begin the shift out of Iraq’s major cities, which under a little-discussed portion of the yet-to-be-ratified Status of Forces Agreement would have to be completed by next June.
Many policy experts convinced, despite ample evidence to the contrary, that the surge is responsible for the drop in violence across Iraq fear that the move risks a return to the higher violence levels of last year. Though the move seems to coincide with President-elect Obama’s Afghanistan-centric agenda, he too is a proponent of the notion that the surge succeeded in his words “beyond our wildest dreams,” leaving open the question of whether he’s willing to risk that perceived success.
Violence in most major Iraqi cities dropped off after mixed neighborhoods were cleansed of one religious faction or another. However despite enormous increases in US and Iraqi personnel in the city of Mosul since May the level of violence is still alarmingly high, and Christians continue to be chased from their homes. Violence notwithstanding, the exodus of US forces from Mosul is still likely to be welcomed after high profile incidents like this afternoon’s shootout with an Iraqi soldier.