A sharp drop in violence in Baghdad led Iraqi government officials to express confidence yesterday that the worst is over, reports the Los Angeles Times. While violence remains high, bombings, street fighting, and abductions are down, as are fears of a civil war. US officials urged Iraq's government to take advantage of the lull to get reforms and services in place.
Optimistic Iraqi officials credit the US troop surge, the Mahdi Army ceasefire, and Sunnis turning against al-Qaeda. "Certainly we still have more to do, but no one can deny that we have passed the difficult stage in Baghdad," said an Iraqi official. A US military official cautioned that Iraqi officials must take advantage of this window quickly before it shuts again.