Sunday, December 23, 2007

Further Evidence That The Surge Is A Failure
Silly Americans

Here's some of the article from The Telegraph (of London); (Emphasis mine)

Christmas is back on cards in Baghdad
By Aqeel Hussein in Baghdad and Colin Freeman
Last Updated: 2:30am GMT 23/12/2007


Iraqi Christians who fled a district of Baghdad that declared itself an al-Qaeda caliphate have returned home to celebrate their first Christmas in two years. Known as the "Vatican of Iraq", the small but long-established Christian enclave in the mainly Sunni Muslim district of Doura suffered constant terror at the hands of al-Qaeda gunmen who tried to impose a Taliban-style rule.

Churches were car-bombed, women were threatened for not wearing Islamic headscarves, and families had to pay monthly "protection" money to local mosques to keep them safe from kidnap gangs.

Now, in a significant success for the US troop surge, al-Qaeda has been rooted out of Doura and the hundreds of Christian families who left the area are returning. On Christmas Day, they will congregate in battle-scarred St Mary's Church, where part of the crucifix on its tower is still missing after being shot at by ­terrorists. "We closed the church two years ago because of all the trouble," said the priest, Father Younadim Shamoon, 45, who has decorated its bullet-cratered walls with modest fairy lights.

Nine months into the US troop surge, though, local Sunnis have been persuaded to reject al-Qaeda's influence. Last week, Sheikh Samir al Jibouri, a local Sunni cleric, visited Fr Shamoon to give him his personal guarantee that his flock would be safe. "He has also told us that we don't have to pay protection money any more," said Fr Shamoon. "He said he had been forced to take the money from us by al-Qaeda, and that he would work for the rest of his life to make up for it."

Major Kirk Luedeke, a spokesman for the US Army's 1st Infantry Division, confirmed that Christian families were returning. "What is more important is that the Muslim tribal leaders are openly showing support for their Christian neighbours," he added.

Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, says that America should be able to withdraw about 20,000 of its 158,000 troops from Iraq by the middle of next year, thanks to security gains achieved by the surge.

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