Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Perspective: 'Nothing has really changed'

Above: A soldier from the 2nd Infantry Division questions a woman in Kahn Bani Saad on August 28.

"I haven't left my home in two months," says Kulsoom, a medical student who lives in east Baghdad with her family.

Not to see friends or relatives, not to go shopping, not to go to college for the extra training she would like before the new academic year begins.

She has a lot of catching up to do. Kulsoom missed half her classes last year because of bombs, shootings and other threats which prevented either her or her teachers from reaching class.

Only a few family members ever go out, for daily essentials. Otherwise they stay at home, day after day.

But they would agree with Gen Petraeus that there has been a drop in violence since the American troop surge.

"There are fewer attacks," says Kulsoom. "Now it is only four or five killed a day in our area. It used to be 20 or 30."

"But we are still afraid. Nothing has really changed."

This is typical of what you hear from many Baghdad residents, nine months since President George W Bush announced his last-ditch bid to try to turn Iraq round.

But that does not mean people feel any safer. It does not mean they believe the US troop surge has yet led to any lasting change that is bringing the fighting to an end.

More concrete barriers divide the city, more checkpoints. But they have only dampened the violence, not addressed its causes, people say.

Read the rest at the BBC