In March 2006, President Bush spoke about progress in the Iraq war and used the city of Tal Afar in northwest Iraq as a shining example of a “strategy that worked so well.” Bush noted that al-Qaeda had been vanquished and the city had become “safer and fairer”:
See, if you’re a resident of Tal Afar today, this is what you’re going to see: You see that the terrorist who once exercised brutal control over every aspect of your city has been killed or captured, or driven out, or put on the run. You see your children going to school and playing safely in the streets. You see the electricity and water service restored throughout the city. You see a police force that better reflects the ethnic and religious diversity of the communities they patrol…The example of Tal Afar gives me confidence in our strategy.
One year later:
Shiite militants and police enraged by massive truck bombings in Tall Afar went on a revenge spree against Sunni residents in the northwestern town Wednesday, killing as many as 60 people, officials said.
The gunmen roamed Sunni neighborhoods in the city through the night, shooting at residents and homes, according to police and a local Sunni politician.
Tal Afar is a victim of Bush’s escalation, which has displaced sectarian violence from Baghdad to other areas of the country. Deaths of Iraqi civilians and troops have actually increased outside of the capital.
UPDATE: Kevin Drum has more on the story of Tal Afar.