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NSN Iraq Daily Update

05/25/2011 12:15 pm ET

IRAN MAY BE SLOWING THE NUMBER OF BOMBS SENT TO IRAQ

Fewer bombs linked to Iran, officials are wary. According to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Iran may be slowing the number of lethal armor-piercing projectiles, known as EFPs, that have become a major killer of U.S. troops, however more time is needed to confirm the trend. Iranian leaders have given assurances to the Iraqi government that they will try to stop the flow of the projectiles and other weaponry from Iran, Gates said, but he added, "I don't know whether to believe them." He also said, "It's too early to tell" whether the flow has been significantly reduced. [Washington Post, 11/2/07]

KURDISH PM CONDEMNS PKK ATTACKS

Prior to summit, Barzani adopts conciliatory tone, Turks demand action. The prime minister of Iraq's northern Kurdish region Friday condemned attacks by Kurdish rebel fighters inside Turkey and said he hopes a weekend summit in Istanbul will reduce the threat of Turkish military strikes inside Iraq. Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani of Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government, issued a statement Friday saying there was "no place in the modern civilized world" for the type of violence carried out by PKK guerrillas. "There can be no excuse whatsoever for these actions which undermine peace and stability in the entire region and which are not in the interest of anyone involved," Barzani said in his statement. However, Turkey's Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said, "We have doubts about the sincerity of the administration in northern Iraq in the struggle against the terrorist organization." Babacan added, "We want to see solid steps." [AP, 11/2/07]

DEATH TOLL DROPS TO EARLY 2006 LEVELS IN IRAQ, BUT AT A HEAVY PRICE

U.S. credits troop buildup, but residents and observers say impact of ethnic cleansing has led to drop in violence. October was the second straight month of decline in American and Iraqi deaths, although even at its reduced level, the violence takes a toll of nearly 200 deaths a week. The death toll for American troops in October fell to 39, the eighth-lowest total in 56 months of fighting. The civilian death toll plummeted nationwide in the last two months; the toll was 2,076 in January but 884 in September and 758 in October, according to the Iraqi Health Ministry. This is a reflection of both the tactical successes of this year's U.S. troop buildup and the lasting impact of waves of sectarian death squad killings, car bombings, and neighborhood purges. American commanders largely credit the buildup, which reached full strength in June, with slowing sectarian bloodshed. But others say that the picture is more complicated because those seeking to cleanse their neighborhoods of rival religious sects have largely succeeded. [LA Times, 11/1/07. Washington Post, 11/2/07]

Ethnic cleansing has led to more than four million refugees and displaced persons. "Everyone in our neighborhood is Sunni, even the birds flying above us are Sunni," said Mohammed Azzawi, a resident of the once mixed district of Ghazaliya. A year ago, his street was a battleground between Shi'a and Sunni militants. Now it is segregated between its Shi'a northern tip and its Sunni south. The number of people displaced internally in Iraq has risen to 2.25 million, and an additional 2 million have left the country. American military leaders say that Iraq and its capital, where much of the sectarian violence took place, are significantly safer than during the height of Shi'a-Sunni warfare last year. At the same time, with an Iraqi government that remains riddled by sectarian strife, the future remains unclear, American authorities acknowledge. [LA Times, 11/1/07]

Bottom-up strategy empowers thugs, locals say. The dangers of ceding power to armed groups in the Sunni neighborhood of Amiriya has left many residents to worry that they are under the control of thugs parading as freedom fighters. Americans forged a partnership in June with residents and former insurgents known as the Amiriya Revolutionaries to assist in fighting Islamist and foreign-inspired insurgent groups. What the U.S. has hailed as a success has left many residents wary. "We don't know what they have inside them or what they will do tomorrow," said a resident, who was afraid to give his name. "Some of the Revolutionaries have taken over houses abandoned by Shi'a who left." The U.S. plans to add 12,600 police officers in Baghdad, many of them from Amiriya. [LA Times, 11/1/07]

NEXT MONTH, 3,500 TROOPS WILL LEAVE TWO CENTRAL PROVINCES IN A MAJOR TEST OF IRAQI READINESS

American units will soon reduce their forces and modify their role in a region that is a microcosm of the fractured nation. The region includes Diyala and Salahaddin provinces, which have large Shi'a, Sunni, and Kurdish populations. Salahaddin's capital, Tikrit, is Saddam Hussein's hometown, and residual support for the deceased dictator can be seen spray painted on walls throughout the city ("Long live the hero Saddam"). It's a risky move, both US and Iraqi officials say, but a necessary test of the strength and ability of Iraqi security forces. "Are they ready to go it alone? No. We understand that," says one senior US Defense official. "But if you keep them in spring practice, they will never gain confidence." [CS Monitor, 11/2/07]

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