For a war-weary nation, this latest report from the Associated Press is salve:
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Sunday suicide attacks and other bombings in the Iraqi capital have dropped dramatically since last year’s high, calling it a sign of the end of sectarian violence. A top U.S. general here said he believes the drop is sustainable, as Iraqis turn away from extremists.
Al-Maliki said “terrorist acts” including car bombings and other spectacular, al-Qaida-style attacks dropped by 77 percent. He called it a sign that Sunni-Shiite violence was nearly gone from Baghdad.
“We are all realizing now that what Baghdad was seeing every day _ dead bodies in the streets and morgues _ is ebbing remarkably,” al-Maliki told reporters at his office in the U.S.-guarded Green Zone.
“This is an indication that sectarianism intended as a gate of evil and fire in Iraq is now closed,” he said. . .
Now the sounds of warfare are rare. American troops have set up small outposts in some of the capital’s most dangerous enclaves. Locals previously lukewarm to the presence of U.S. soldiers patrol alongside them. And a historic lane on the eastern banks of the Tigris is set to reopen later this year, lined with seafood restaurants and an art gallery.
Associated Press figures show a sharp drop in the number of U.S. and Iraqi deaths across the country in the past few months. The number of Iraqis who met violent deaths dropped from at least 1,023 in September to at least 905 in October, according to an AP count.
The number of American military deaths fell from 65 to at least 39 over the same period.
Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of U.S. forces south of the capital, said Sunday he believed the decrease would hold, because of what he called a “groundswell” of support from regular Iraqis.