You heard it here first folks. OPFOR has an exclusive interview with General Petraeus from Baghdad on the ongoing situation.
He terms it "cautiously optimistic".
Then there is Baghdad. Baghdad has become the primary battleground in Iraq. “Baghdad, a city the size of Los Angeles, is spread out and very diverse. What you have there is almost a tale of two cities to some degree. It is a tale of one city that is predominantly Shia, those areas in which security is pretty good. Al–Qaeda is trying to get in and blow them up periodically but the checkpoints are stopping a good bit of that. Where commerce has returned, the markets have reopened. We have hardened all the markets. And I’m talking about enormous markets that have tens of thousands of people. Those areas have bounced back very, very well.”
“Then you have the mixed areas though that are still in the sense battlegrounds…All it takes is one death squad just to really literally ruin the neighborhood. They are fault line neighborhoods or they are Sunni Arab neighborhoods that are under threat from both Al-Qaeda, who’s trying to retain them as logistical routes or safe havens, and by, in some cases, Shia extremists who are trying to expand into those areas or to push into another block or another neighborhood.”
“Those are challenging places and they are challenging for the people that live in them as well… In fact we were in one of them just yesterday – the Amariyah area of Baghdad which is just east of the Baghdad International Airport; between that and the wealthy Mansur area, where all the diplomats used to live. And we were out talking to folks in the market and on the street and all that stuff. They are surviving, they are enduring. But you know it’s a pretty tough existence for them, frankly.”[snip]
When I asked the general about the current political situation in America, he made it quite clear that his job was to remain focused on the mission in Iraq. Then he went on to say: “I think that a soldier should understand the mission he has been given and make sure he and his boss have discussed it and they are both clear on it and then ask for what he needs and then do the best he can with what he gets. And, inform people of the risk if he doesn’t get what he asks for. And, if it’s sufficiently less than what is judged to be needed, then he has to go back and say I can’t accomplish the mission, lets change the mission. That’s the approach you have to take.
“I cannot make my recommendations based on what I think the pain is back there for the military services or the White House or Capitol Hill or anything else. All we can do is do our mission to the best of our ability and retain integrity as we do that. And, be willing to note that if it’s not going to happen. I’ve gotta say that. I owe that to 150,000 young Americans and anther 10,000 coalition partners.
General Petraeus believes that the mission is doable, but he cautioned, “It is by no means a done deal.” “There are no guarantees.” “My job is to help the Iraqis establish a better level of security in Iraq – that is job one.”
I said that is most likely to happen here, here, here and here.