The commander of multi-national forces in Baghdad says the coalition is having some success fighting the insurgency, but he acknowledges that violence will continue as the January 30 election approaches.
Major General Peter Chiarelli says more Iraqis are providing information to coalition forces, and that has led to many successes in finding bombs before they explode.
"We have pulled up about 50 percent of them in the last week,” he said. “For every one that you have seen go off, I have found another one, or broken up a cell that is placing another one. Baghdad is a city of seven million people. And what I would like to do is to somehow have all seven million of those sets of eyes working for us."
That is not happening yet. But General Chiarelli says many Iraqis are getting tired of what he calls the "horrible" impact of the bombings, and are beginning to call a special phone number he has established for people to provide information on the insurgency anonymously. He believes they have also been inspired by coalition efforts to improve basic services, such as water, sewerage and electricity.
The general says the bombings have scared people, but he says data from Iraqi polling companies indicate the vast majority of Iraqis want the election to succeed. And he says they are beginning to take action to help fight the insurgency in spite of their fear.
"They created an intimidation factor that is very, very hard for us to judge,” he added. “It's an intimidation factor that is one of the most difficult things that we have to fight. And to break that cycle of intimidation is something that we're going to need the help of the Iraqi people to stop."
The senior U.S. general in Baghdad says more Iraqis are also approaching coalition forces on the streets of Baghdad to provide information.
The general predicts that the security situation in Iraq will be better by election day, but he also says there will likely be what he calls a "spike" of violence as the election approaches. Still, he predicts the elections will be held successfully.
"The people of Baghdad want to vote,” General Chiarelli said. “And that is the thing the insurgents fear the most."
General Chiarelli says the attacks on new Iraqi soldiers and National Guardsmen have not deterred others from applying to join the security forces. He says he is working with those forces, and the Iraqi government, to plan security deployments for election day.