This is stability?
By Patrick Cockburn:
People in Baghdad are not passive victims of violence, but seek desperately to avoid their fate. In April 2004, I was almost killed by Shia militiamen of the Mehdi Army at a checkpoint at Kufa in southern Iraq. They said I was an American spy and were about to execute me and my driver, Bassim Abdul Rahman, when they decided at the last moment to check with their commander. "I believe," Bassim said afterwards, "that if Patrick had an American or an English passport [instead of an Irish one] they would have killed us all immediately."
In the following years, I saw Bassim less and less. He is a Sunni, aged about 40, from west Baghdad. After the battle for Baghdad between Shia and Sunni in 2006, he could hardly work as a driver as three-quarters of the capital was controlled by the Shia. There were few places where a Sunni could drive in safety outside a handful of enclaves.
What happened to Bassim was also to happen to millions of Iraqis who saw their lives ruined by successive calamities. As their world collapsed around them they were forced to take desperate measures to survive, obtain a job and make enough money to feed and educate their families.
In the US and Europe, the main measure of whether the war in Iraq is "going well" or "going badly" is the casualty figures. The number of American soldiers and Iraqi civilians being killed went down to 39 US soldiers and 599 Iraqi civilians in January. The White House is promoting the idea that the United States is finally on the road to success, if not victory, in Iraq.