"We stopped the fight against the Americans and now we are fighting against the terrorists because they are killing the Shia," he said. "We want to defend the Shia."
Nahid al Gertani, a former officer in the Republican Guard and one of the leaders of the Sunni fighters in southern Baghdad, said his forces were defending the Sunnis against the Shia militias. "Our first target is the Shia militia," he said. "We made an agreement with the American army four months ago to stop the fight."
Iraqi civilians say they had recently been surprised to see American troops in parts of the city where they would previously have been attacked had they ventured out. US forces are also reported to have intervened to keep the warring parties apart, placing guards on the Alkubasey mosque — a known base for Sunni fighters — to protect it from Shia militia attack.
OK, now that we have the facts, let's look at an answer from Webb in today's debate, when asked about Iraq:
Webb: They're blowing up pipelines right now. THe insurgency is active largely because they resent the American presence. You don't get to talk to a full range of people when you go on these Congressional visits. The real difficulty is to get American combat forces out of the way.
Meanwhile, reports have Iraqi citizens thanking the Americans for protecting them from the sectarian violence, while attacks against our troops are dropping. We are working closely with the Iraqi police, and with the Iraqi people:
In the Adhamiyah neighborhood – where agriculturally-minded residents grow everything from date palm trees to garden vegetables - the neighbors appear pleased with the progress they’ve witnessed.
“Most of the residents we have spoken with are farmers,” said Page. “They are good people who have been living in the area for quite a while and just trying to make a living for themselves.”
Until recently, violence had touched even the most innocuous of sites. During their patrols, U.S. and Iraqi Soldiers came across a kindergarten school that had in recent weeks come under fire from terrorist mortars.
The terrorists were aiming at the Iraqi National Police station nearby, explained the head security guard for the kindergarten. “If (these patrols) happen more times, maybe the terrorists would leave.”
The guard said he has lived in the neighborhood for seven years, and has watched the area change for the worse. Now he said he feels the security operations underway will be good for the neighborhood.
“Even my babies, they see Americans and Iraqi forces and they feel safe because they think this will give security to them,” said the guard.
“A lot of the residents I have spoken with said as soon as we rolled in, the terrorists, or whoever was taking over this area, rolled out,” added Page. “Violence has gone down and it seems pretty peaceful.”
But Webb thinks the difficulty is getting our troops out, because they are upsetting the Iraqis.
He may or may not have been right 6 months ago, but this isn't 6 months ago, and the American Military is NOT the problem.