Fear Rules Iraq, Briefers Tell Congress
Benchmarks not likely to be met, say Crocker, Petraeus
By Dustin Lushing,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 20, 2007 7:20 AM CDT
A young Iraqi covers his face as he runs through smoke in the predominantly Shiite Fidhiliyah area on the outskirts of Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, June 10, 2007. Overnight clashes between U.S. troops and militiamen...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Iraq is gripped by widespread fear and is unlikely to fulfill political and security goals by the pivotal September assessment, US officials told lawmakers yesterday in a briefing from Baghdad. "One word I would use to sum up the atmosphere in Iraq is 'fear,' " said ambassador Ryan Crocker, adding that the country has a "considerable ways to go" toward political stability.

Gen. David Petraeus and his deputy also told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that progress is being made, but it's highly unlikely that 18 reform goals could be reached in the next 45 days. It will be at least until November before an accurate assessment can be made, they said.