Michael Ware


TWAW: Update on Iraq

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Length: 3:20

ZAIN VERJEE: Anything would help. Iraqi officials reported this week that more than 3400 Iraqi civilians were killed last month. That makes July the deadliest month of the insurgency. With these statistics, are Iraqis any closer to being ready to 'stand up' in the words of the Bush administration and how much further off is the day when the U.S. military can stand down?
With us from Baghdad, Michael Ware; from the Pentagon, Barbara Starr; and in our New York bureau, Jane Arraf of the Council on Foreign Relations, a former CNN Baghdad bureau chief. Thanks to you all for joining us. Michael Ware in Baghdad, to you first. Over the past months, it appears that the insurgency has gained momentum. What's the reality on the ground? What's your assessment?

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Very much the insurgency is still here and in fact, many in the U.S. military would argue that it's picked up pace. I mean let's just take four days this week from Monday to Thursday. We saw more than 200 IEDs or roadside bombs detonated. That's in four days. Over that same period, there were 10 car bombs. This is three years into the war where one would have expected, according to military predictions, that things would be improving, not worsening. That's one part of this war. Another part of this war is the sectarian strife, the civil war. That has definitely picked up steam and that's accounting for the bulk of these civilian deaths, which has reached horrific proportions.

VERJEE: One of the new ideas out there, Michael Ware, that's proving to be extremely controversial is this idea that local committees should be set up in different areas, where the Shias protect and patrol their own neighborhood, the Sunnis will protect and patrol their own neighborhood and in mixed areas, you have mixed patrols. What is the sense on the ground? Would that fuel or prevent more sectarian violence from escalating?

WARE: Honestly, it's not a new development. These things sprung up a long time ago, ad hoc, street by street. In some places they're called night guards. Otherwise it's just like a local militia group or vigilante group, simply protecting their homes. This is rooted in some basis. We saw elements within the original CPA -- led by Paul Bremer and elements of the CIA -- experiment with divesting power, just like Saddam did, to local groups, local sheikhs, local tribal identities or power blocs. We also saw Saddam doing this, decentralizing power in this way. I mean this has some similarities the way security is maintained or not in Afghanistan and other places. So this really is not a new development. That the military is acknowledging it publicly is the only development. These facts have been here clear and evident on the ground for a long time. It's only now that the military's rhetoric is catching up with the insurgency and the reality of the sectarian violence.