The Independent's Patrick Cockburn reports from Iraq:
The so-called "surge", the dispatch of 20,000 extra American troops to Iraq with the prime mission of getting control of Baghdad, is visibly failing.
There are army and police checkpoints everywhere but Iraqis are terrified because they do not know if the men in uniform they see there are, in reality, death squad members….
The failure of the "surge" comes because it is not accompanied by any political reconciliation. On the contrary the government is factionalised. The two vice-presidents, Tariq al-Hashimi, a Sunni, and Adel Abdel Mehdi, a Shia, may make conciliatory statements, but one Iraqi observer noted: "Tariq only employs Sunni and Adel only Shia."
And on a strange note:
A bizarre flavour has been given to Saadoun Street because the government has encouraged artists to paint the giant concrete blast barriers with uplifting, if unlikely, scenes of mountain torrents, meadows in spring and lakeside scenes. Many of the pictures, all in garish greens, blues and yellows, look more like Switzerland than Iraq.