Totten: "Before the surge started the neighborhood was much more dangerous than it is now"; Update: Sectarian killing back to pre-surge levels?

A superb piece, albeit limited to just one neighborhood. All you get is a taste to force you to click:

The battalion I’m embedded with here in Baghdad hasn’t suffered a single casualty – not even one soldier wounded – since they arrived in the Red Zone in January. The surge in this part of the city could not possibly be going better than it already is. Most of Graya’at’s insurgents and terrorists who haven’t yet fled are either captured, dormant, or dead…

“We were on base at Camp Taji [north of the city] and commuting to work,” Major Jazdyk told me earlier. “The problem with that was that the only space we dominated was inside our Humvees. So we moved into the neighborhoods and live there now with the locals. We know them and they know us.”…

“Most of what we’re doing doesn’t get reported in the media,” he said. “We’re not fighting a war here anymore, not in this area. We’ve moved way beyond that stage. We built a soccer field for the kids, bought all kinds of equipment, bought them school books and even chalk. Soon we’re installing 1,500 solar street lamps so they have light at night and can take some of the load off the power grid. The media only covers the gruesome stuff. We go to the sheiks and say hey man, what kind of projects do you want in this area? They give us a list and we submit the paperwork. When the projects get approved, we give them the money and help them buy stuff.”

It was all a bit boring, but blessedly so. I knew already that not everyone in Baghdad was hostile. But it was slightly surprising to see that entire areas in the Red Zone are not hostile.

Read through to the end and see what happens if you don’t know who your enemies are.

Update: Iraqslogger put together a map by neighborhood of bodies found in Baghdad over the past month. The “good” news, such as it is, is that more than half come from only five areas. The bad news is that those areas are, as you might expect, mixed by sect and are less policed by U.S. troops than areas where they’re being attacked.

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