leave off the editorial comments, Sir…

Posted on Sunday 30 September 2007

Petraeus admits to rise in Iraq violence

Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, acknowledged today that violence had increased since Sunni Arab militants declared an offensive during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

"Certainly Al Qaeda has had its Ramadan surge," Petraeus said in his first comments to reporters since he returned from Washington to give lawmakers a status report on the war in Iraq. But he said the level of attacks was "substantially lower" than during the same period last year.

The Army general said he saw no need to revise the projections he presented to Congress this month for a gradual withdrawal of the additional forces deployed to Iraq as part of the troop buildup. He did not provide figures.

Militants with the extremist group Al Qaeda in Iraq have launched a string of deadly bombings in recent weeks, including one this week that killed at least 24 people at a reconciliation meeting between Sunni and Shiite tribal, religious, political and security leaders in the Diyala provincial capital, Baqubah.

At least 11 Iraqis were killed in bomb blasts, mortar and gunfire today. The U.S. military also announced the deaths of two soldiers in small-arms fire, one during combat operations in a southern section of Baghdad and the other in Diyala.
[He’s got Surges on the brain]. First, he equates Sunni violence with al Qaeda. There is no evidence that is true and plenty to suggest otherwise – they are Iraqi Sunnis fighting with Shiites for control of their country. Secondly, he says this is a Surge on their part. That is also suspect [see again my graph below]. And notice he does the same thing he did in Congress – used "attacks" rather than "casualties" because it looks better. It doesn’t look better to the Iraqi citizens. General Petraeus is unfortunately turning out to be a political pawn. Were he to say that Sunni Militants have declared a surge during Ramadan. That would be fine. To say it is al Qaeda, or that it’s their routine Ramadan Surge is to place meanings on the data that are self serving and probably inaccurate. It also happens to contradict what he said two weeks ago, when it was equally obvious. He had his month in the sun [June]. Now they’ve caught up with him. These people can’t talk without "spinning" what they say…

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