New Iraq study shows dramatic rise in violence

From the Post tonight:  

Violence in Iraq rose across the board this fall to the highest levels on record, fueled by the growth of Shiite militia that have replaced al-Qaeda as the most dangerous force propelling the nation toward civil war, according to a new Pentagon report released this afternoon.

Attack levels reached record highs in all categories as the number of coalition casualties surged 32 percent and the number of weekly attacks rose 22 percent nationwide from mid-August to mid-November, compared with the previous three months, according to the congressionally mandated Pentagon report.

The report documents that U.S. and Iraqi operations to quell violence in Baghdad ultimately failed, with attacks dipping in August before rebounding in September as death squads adapted to the increased presence of U.S. and Iraqi troops.

Meanwhile, Iraqi public fears of civil war grew, while confidence in the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki dropped significantly as Maliki's efforts at political reconciliation have shown "little progress," the report said.

Titled "Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq," the 50-page report is issued quarterly and compiled by the Pentagon at the behest of Congress.

It found that Iraqi civilian casualties rose 60 percent following the rise of the Maliki government in May.

So when folks like McCain propose a surge of American troops in Iraq, something rejected by the Joint Chiefs and Colin Powell, he is really talking about going after the Shiite militias, now an integral part of the Maliki government? I still can't really understand what the goal of the surge is. 

Update: The Times has a story this am about the failing electrical system in Baghdad:

BAGHDAD, Dec. 18 — Over the past six months, Baghdad has been all but isolated electrically, Iraqi officials say, as insurgents have effectively won their battle to bring down critical high-voltage lines and cut off the capital from the major power plants to the north, south and west.

The battle has been waged in the remotest parts of the open desert, where the great towers that support thousands of miles of exposed lines are frequently felled with explosive charges in increasingly determined and sophisticated attacks, generally at night. Crews that arrive to repair the damage are often attacked and sometimes killed, ensuring that the government falls further and further behind as it attempts to repair the lines.

And in a measure of the deep disunity and dysfunction of this nation, when the repair crews and security forces are slow to respond, skilled looters often arrive with heavy trucks that pull down more of the towers to steal as much of the valuable aluminum conducting material in the lines as possible. The aluminum is melted into ingots and sold.

What amounts to an electrical siege of Baghdad is reflected in constant power failures and disastrously poor service in the capital, with severe consequences for security, governance, health care and the mood of an already weary and angry populace.