Tuesday, July 25, 2006

To Iraqis, More U.S. Troops Means More Violence

Sunni leaders may be saying they want Americans to stay in Iraq for a while, but ordinary Iraqis, both Sunni and Shiite, apparently view Americans as "attack magnets."

Iraqis expressed doubt Saturday that a plan to increase the number of U.S. troops in the capital would reduce the violence that has warped daily life here, rendering stories of killings and kidnappings unremarkable.

Americans have staked victory in Iraq on the idea that if they can make residents feel safe, people will turn their backs on insurgent groups or local militias. But so far, every effort to make life more secure in Baghdad has failed. Lawlessness has spread to once-safe neighborhoods, and nearly the entire city is immersed in sectarian conflict.

Sunni and Shiite Muslim residents voiced skepticism Saturday that American troops could stop the bloodshed. U.S. forces have lost the confidence of many here, and any additional troops would face a challenge in rebuilding the trust of the population.

"People don't like the Americans anymore," said Nawar Abbas, a 24-year-old computer engineer and a Sunni. "They have a bad image of them, and I don't think it will change."

In fact, Abbas and others see the Americans as magnets for attacks, rather than protectors.

"I don't think that more American troops can achieve stability and security," Abbas said. "The more presence on the street, the more attacks they will get."

Some Shiites share that sentiment.

"More Americans in the street means more terrorist attacks, and that will lead to more civilian deaths," said Buthayna Fadhil, a 50-year-old homemaker and a Shiite. "We don't want more soldiers."

Via Cursor.org.

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