Yesterday, the Pentagon released its Quarterly Report to Congress on Iraq. “While security has improved dramatically, the fundamental character of the conflict in Iraq remains unchanged — a communal struggle for power and resources,” the report said.
Buried on page 28 of the report, the Pentagon notes, “Iraqis’ perception of the security situation is a mixed bag.” According to research from August 2008, “73% of Iraqis described the security situation in their neighborhoods as calm,” a 12 point increase from November 2007.
Of particular note, however, is the disparity between Iraqi’s sense of security in their own neighborhoods and their sense of security outside their neighborhoods. Seventy-four percent feel “safe and secure” in their neighborhoods but only 37 percent feel safe traveling outside of their neighborhoods:
The disparity suggests that Iraqis are increasingly confined to their own neighborhoods as a result of sectarian tensions. A new study released by UCLA concluded that ethnic violence was the primary factor in reducing violence in Iraq, conclusions also echoed by the GAO. Indeed, Baghdad is now a “city of shadows” characterized by blast walls separating Shi’a and Sunni.
The report adds that as of August, 84 percent of Iraqis had confidence in the Iraqi Army to protect them from threats and 81 percent in the Iraqi Police. Far fewer have “confidence” in foreign troops:
Confidence in the Multi-National Forces, armed groups, and militias was much lower at 24%, 11%, and 11%, respectively.