Is the Surge Working? You Must Be Kidding

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Aftermath of a suicide bombing near a Mahmudiya hospital

The keys to the success of President Bush’s “surge” strategy are ending the orgy of sectarian violence and bringing the government of Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki to heel.

Well, it has been an awful week for both objectives:

* In the northern city of Tal Afar, a bombing in a Shiite neighborhood by Sunnis killed 70 people and a reprisal massacre of Sunnis by Shiite police officers left 70 more dead. Al Maliki ordered the obligatory “investigation,” but 18 police officers suspected of participating in the massacre were released after being briefly detained.

* In Baghdad, at least 60 people, mostly women and children, were killed when a man with an explosive belt walked into a crowded street market the Shaab neighborhood and detonated it.

* Elsewhere in the capital, a bomb placed on a popular shopping street in the Baya district killed 10 people, while a suicide car bomber detonated himself at an Iraqi Army checkpoint in the Jamiya district, killing three soldiers. Meanwhile, at least 25 bodies were found throughout the city.

* In the predominately Shiite town of Khalis in bloody Diyala Province, a coordinated attack involving three suicide car bombers killed at least 28 people, including women and children.

* In Mahmudiya, a car bomb exploded near a hospital, killing four people.

No one said that the surge would work overnight, but if there are real signs of progress, as opposed to a few good days in a row, I keep missing them.

It’s real simple:

There cannot be a military solution without a social solution and there cannot be a social solution without a military solution. This week was a notable setback for both efforts.

More here.

Photograph by Ibrahim Sultan/Reuters