The civilian death toll in Iraq fell to its lowest level in recent memory Saturday, with only four people killed or found dead nationwide, according to reports from police, morgue officials and credible witnesses.
Saturday marked the beginning of the Eid al-Fitr feast for Shiites, the three-day capstone closing out the Ramadan month of fasting. Sunnis began celebrating the holiday on Sunday.
The daily number of civilians killed, not including those on days when there were massive casualties from car bombs, had climbed above 100 at the end of last year and the beginning of 2007.
Saturday's decline in deaths was in line with a sharp drop in September of both Iraqi civilian and U.S. military fatalities.
Compare that to any holiday in any one of our major cities like Chicago, Miami, LA or New York.
It is part of the trend of what we have seen happening in Iraq over the last few months.
U.S. military deaths in Iraq fell to 64 in September, the fourth straight drop since peaking at 121 in May and driving the toll to a 14-month low."
Civilian deaths also have plunged, dropping by more than half from August to 884. Remember just six months ago all the talk of an Iraqi "civil war"? That seems to be fading."
The just-ended holy month of Ramadan in Iraq was accompanied by a 40% drop in violence, even though al-Qaida had vowed to step up attacks."
Other good news that has come out of Iraq in the recent weeks:
Last month, 1,200 Iraqis waited patiently in line in Iraq's searing heat to sign up to fight al-Qaida. They will join an estimated 30,000 volunteers in the past six months — a clear sign the tide has turned in the battle for average Iraqis' hearts and minds."
Five million Iraqi children returned to school last week, largely without incident, following their summer vacations."
The surge of 28,500 new troops announced by President Bush last February, and put in place in mid-June by Gen. Petraeus, seems to have worked amazingly well. Al-Qaida, though still a potent enemy capable of committing mass atrocities, is on the run."
Al-Qaeda will still try for what they call "spectacular" bombings and massive deaths, they have been trying but we have the momentum against them.
More importantly, the Iraqi people have turned their back on al-Qaeda and are working with our forces.
Just yesterday we saw that another Sunni chief struck a deal with U.S. military:
The Sunni clan chief would bring 500 tribesmen to help battle al-Qaida in Iraq and Shiite militiamen in their part of a former shooting gallery dubbed the "triangle of death" south of Baghdad. In return, the Pentagon put them on a monthly payroll that's almost on par with what the Iraqi government pays entry-level policemen and army soldiers.
Their alliance — built more on mutual needs rather than shared ideology — offers a glimpse of Washington's fragile and complicated strategy of teaming up with former enemies.
For the moment, it has showed significant dividends by uprooting extremists from strongholds across central Iraq as local tribes grew tired of the heavy hand of groups such as al-Qaida in Iraq or became suspicious of Shiite factions showing too much loyalty to Iran's theocrats.
We see the Wapo editorial acknowledging that General Petraeus was right in his testimony in September:
NEWS COVERAGE and debate about Iraq during the past couple of weeks have centered on the alleged abuses of private security firms like Blackwater USA. Getting such firms into a legal regime is vital, as we've said. But meanwhile, some seemingly important facts about the main subject of discussion last month -- whether there has been a decrease in violence in Iraq -- have gotten relatively little attention. A congressional study and several news stories in September questioned reports by the U.S. military that casualties were down. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), challenging the testimony of Gen. David H. Petraeus, asserted that "civilian deaths have risen" during this year's surge of American forces.
A month later, there isn't much room for such debate, at least about the latest figures. In September, Iraqi civilian deaths were down 52 percent from August and 77 percent from September 2006, according to the Web site icasualties.org. The Iraqi Health Ministry and the Associated Press reported similar results. U.S. soldiers killed in action numbered 43 -- down 43 percent from August and 64 percent from May, which had the highest monthly figure so far this year. The American combat death total was the lowest since July 2006 and was one of the five lowest monthly counts since the insurgency in Iraq took off in April 2004.
During the first 12 days of October the death rates of Iraqis and Americans fell still further. So far during the Muslim month of Ramadan, which began Sept. 13 and ends this weekend, 36 U.S. soldiers have been reported as killed in hostile actions. That is remarkable given that the surge has deployed more American troops in more dangerous places and that in the past al-Qaeda has staged major offensives during Ramadan. Last year, at least 97 American troops died in combat during Ramadan. Al-Qaeda tried to step up attacks this year, U.S. commanders say -- so far, with stunningly little success.
MoveOn and their attack ad against General Petraeus and his credibility and Hillary Clinton with her comment about believing his figures would take a "willing suspension of disbelief", have both been proven wrong.
Petraeus was telling the truth and now that the trends and the numbers are proving him right, no one seems to want to talk about it.
They continue to try to avoid the subject and instead would rather focus on anything but the success we are seeing in Iraq.
No one is saying we have won. No one is saying that there isn't still a hard battle ahead, but as we pointed out the other day when Robin Wright from Wapo and Barbara Starr from CNN acknowledged that good news from Iraq shouldn't be reported, now that the trends have changed, the newspapers that touted death tolls every morning in their headlines are oddly silent.
The last line of the Wapo editorial nails it right on the head:
This doesn't necessarily mean the war is being won. U.S. military commanders have said that no reduction in violence will be sustainable unless Iraqis reach political solutions -- and there has been little progress on that front. Nevertheless, it's looking more and more as though those in and outside of Congress who last month were assailing Gen. Petraeus's credibility and insisting that there was no letup in Iraq's bloodshed were -- to put it simply -- wrong.
Yes they were wrong and Hillary Clinton, the women that wants to be Commander-in-Chief, owes General Petraeus a huge apology. One he will not get because she is incapable of admitting when she is wrong.
You can keep up with the news from Iraq yourself, the news Ms. Wright from Wapo and Ms. Starr from CNN claim should not be told to the American people, over at Centcom, with their daily news releases.
If our journalists say that good news should not be reported to the American people, then it is up to us to look and get the news ourselves if we want to be able to form an educated opinion.
Stop the ACLU is also discussing this, so stop by and read.
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