... current figures, spurious or not, are finally favouring Washington and its Iraqi clients. Since the US military surge began, civilian deaths have fallen by roughly two-thirds across Iraq. The latest Pentagon assessment recorded 600 killings in November, compared with more than 2,500 in January. At least 3,600 members of al-Qaida in Mesopotamia were killed or captured in the same period.
A key factor is said to be the so-called Sunni Awakening. The Pentagon says the decline in sectarian conflict has been matched by the recruitment of 69,000 mostly Sunni volunteers hostile to foreign jihadis and determined to reclaim their communities.
The ceasefire by the Iranian-backed, Shia Arab Mahdi army, wisely adopted as the surge troops advanced, has helped cut the killing, too.
Economic indicators also colour Washington's rosy picture. The Pentagon chief, Robert Gates, says Iraq's Saddam-era debt has been significantly reduced and the economy is growing by 5-6% annually, buoyed by oil receipts. In this developing US narrative, the thousands of returning exiles, and Iraq's improved relations with its
neighbours, tell their own story.
If this proves to be true, it would be an occasion when I would be pleased to have got it wrong.