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Patrick Cockburn: What's Really Happened During the Surge?
Wednesday, December 12, 2007 :Has the US turned the tide in Baghdad? Does the fall in violence mean that the country is stabilizing after more than four years of war or are we seeing only a temporary pause in the fighting? American commentators are generally making the same mistake that they have made since the invasion of Iraq was first contemplated five years ago.
They look at Iraq in over-simple terms and exaggerate the extent to which the US is making the political weather and is in control of events there.
The US is the most powerful single force in Iraq but it is by no means the only one. The shape of Iraqi politics have changed over the last year though for reasons that have little to do with 'the Surge'--the 30,000 US troop reinforcements -- and much to do with the battle for supremacy between the Sunni and Shia communities.
The Sunni Arabs of Iraq turned against al Qa'ida partly because it tried to monopolize power but primarily because it had brought their community close to catastrophe. The Sunni war against the US occupation had gone surprisingly well for them since it began in 2003. It was a second war, the one against the Shia majority led by al-Qa'ida, which the Sunni were losing with disastrous results for themselves.