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Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Surge is Working!

Baghdad PRT leader says Iraqis

showing signs of reconciliation

Jim Brown
January 2, 2008

A senior foreign service officer embedded with a military brigade in Iraq says the U.S. troop surge has been a "success" in terms of improving security and fostering national reconciliation.

Paul Folmsbee is the leader of the Provincial Reconstruction Team for Sadr City and Adhamiya -- two districts located in downtown Baghdad. Folmsbee's team is embedded with the Second Brigade 82nd Airborne, and he believes the prospects for reconciliation are improving in Baghdad, thanks in large part to gains that have been made by U.S. troops.

"I think that everyone has had enough of [the violence], and I think a lot of moderate voices are looking for ways to improve the conditions on the ground," he reports. "So there's a lot more of a positive atmosphere and interest. [It's] fragile, for sure -- you know, the people could undermine this perhaps; but I think overall there's no question that the environment is much safer and there is a lot more interest in reconciliation."

The central government has yet to make substantial progress in providing essential services such as electricity, water, and sewage, acknowledges Folmsbee. But he notes the Maliki government has declared 2008 to be "the year of services" -- something Folmsbee says is an achievable goal.