Religion Issue in Baghdad – Cleansing by the ‘Surge’ 2007

The Surge Idea

At the end of 2006, after months of the escalating sectarian violence, Baghdad was divided into several zones of ethnic group the bloodiest year of Iraq, the troop ‘Surge’ marked a major shift in the George W. Bush administration‘s Iraq strategy. President Bush announced to send more than 20000 soldiers to the U.S in January 2007, military presence in Iraq and majority of them in Baghdad. They work as a neutral third party that not related ethnic and religious faction, but claim to enforce order over the entire city. Securing it as the centre of the country, and new counterinsurgency tatics that emphasized protecting the Iraqic public. Bush describe the overall objective is to “unified, democratic federal Iraq that can govern itself, and sustain itself, and is an ally in the War on Terror…. Our troops will have a well-defined mission: to help Iraqis clear and secure neighborhoods, to help them protect the local population, and to help ensure that the Iraqi forces left behind are capable of providing the security that Baghdad needs.”[1]

                                                         Figure 1. Jan 2007 Before the Surge
                                                  Figure 2. Sep 2007 At the Height Of the Surge


In fact, The Surge in Iraq was clearly a multi-task strategy that beyond strategy simply increasing troop levels. The most significant of these was the shift from trying to hand off security tasks to Iraqi forces to focusing on the security of the Iraqi people. The strategy of surge was explicit recognition that the most important trend in the violence in Iraq was the human trend – the civilian – and the surge aims to improve their security.


“Clear, hold, and build” become the operative concept. The surge troops help to clear the insurgents over two sectarian group then provide incapable of sustaining progress in the areas cleared. Baghdad “is becoming stricter and gaining momentum by the day as more troops pour into the city, allowing for a better implementation of the ‘clear and hold’ strategy.” Baghdadis “always want the ‘hold’ part to materialize, and feel safe when they go out and find the Army and police maintaining their posts — the bad guys can’t intimidate as long as the troops are staying.”[2]

These statements indicate the increasing number of United States troops, while simultaneously improving the efficacy of the Iraqi government, were seen as important components of the counterinsurgency effort.

Therefore, the declining violence may basically due with three points. First is that the troop surge worked by increasing counterinsurgent capacity. Increase the number of security force in Baghdad in order to strengthen the Iraqis state and operate new strategy to better identify insurgents to remove militia from the population and reduce levels of violence. Second, is that the ethnically homogeneous neighborhoods made it more difficult for insurgents to have the local support and networks and it is more easier to indentify individuals that do not belong to the community. Third, the wall as the barrier also serve a critical fact to segregate the ethnic group into ethno-sectarian neighborhoods.

[1] “President’s address to the nation” by Office of the Press Secretary, The White House, January 10,2007

[2] “David Petraeus: General Surge” by Patrick Cockburn, Independent September 7 2007

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