Michael Ware


TSR: "The generals are warning that if there's no reconciliation by next summer, we may be looking for a new strategy."

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WOLF BLITZER: There's been a dramatic drop in the violence in Iraq, with the U.S. military now reporting stunning declines in the number of attacks and the number of casualties.

But can these gains hold without a political solution? And joining us now from Baghdad, our correspondent, Michael Ware. Michael, clearly, the statistics are showing some favorable trends right now. But I take it the U.S. military itself is worried that the positive numbers that have been reported lately, that could turn around down the road.
What's going on?
I mean the first thing that has to be said is this -- there has been a spectacular success. I mean, as the U.S. military is reporting, you know, attacks are down by 55 percent than what they were just back in June. Civilian deaths in Baghdad are down by a massive 75 percent. Indeed, we're seeing levels of violence that we haven't seen since January 2006 -- since before the Samarra mosque bombing which sparked the civil war.
Now, will it last?
This is the million dollar question. Admirals and generals are very careful to caution that these are very positive trends, but we can't read too much into them yet. Privately, what the strategists are telling me is that things could turn on a dime. We could see the violence revert back almost instantly. However, their belief is that that won't happen. Among the U.S. forces here, they have the confidence they can keep the levels of violence to where they are now, until at least the summer of next year. But what happens after that, no one knows because the name of the game now, Wolf, is reconciliation. By building Sunni militias, by America essentially now working with 72,000 Sunni insurgents, putting 45,000 of them on the U.S. government payroll, that has seen a massive decline in attacks.
It's also seen neighborhoods in Baghdad protected essentially by U.S.-backed Sunni militias.
The problem is, is there going to be real reconciliation at the political level with this Shia-dominated government?
And all signs right now point to no. So perhaps the success may amount to nothing. And the generals are warning that if there's no reconciliation by next summer, we may be looking for a new strategy -- Wolf.
BLITZER: The -- you've been away for a while. Now you're back. Actually, you've been there for more than four years covering this war.
Have you felt any really discernible difference on the streets of Baghdad or elsewhere since you've come back?
WARE: Well, yes and no, I have to say. I mean, yeah, look, honestly, this is a much more peaceful city than it used to be. But we still have dozens and dozens of people dying every week. Now, I mean, the American military celebrated last Friday, because across the country there was only 33 attacks.
Now, can you imagine in any other country in the world, be it Israel, be it America itself, be it Pakistan, that there were 33 attacks in a day?
That would be a horrific day. Yet here, that's cause for celebration. There very much is still a war going on.
So, yes, I can feel changes. There is a certain life returning to the city. But, honestly, Wolf, this is a segregated metropolis. People live in heavily guarded sectarian enclaves. This is a world divided. There is still great tension, great distrust and, honestly, I don't see the path forward happening how most people hope.
BLITZER: Michael Ware, be careful over there.
Thanks very much.
WARE: Thank you, mate.
BLITZER: Let's get right to Jack Cafferty.
He's in New York for The Cafferty File.
Good to have Michael back in Baghdad -- Jack.
CAFFERTY: Yes. Yes, you're reading my mind. I've missed him.