By Tom Lasseter

McClatchy Newspapers

TIKRIT, Iraq - As security conditions continue to deteriorate in Iraq, many Iraqi politicians are challenging the optimistic forecasts of governments in Baghdad and Washington, D.C., with some worrying that the rosy views are preventing the creation of effective strategies against the escalating violence.

Their worst fear, one that some U.S. soldiers share, is that top officials don't really understand what's happening. Those concerns seem to be supported by statistics that show Iraq's violence has increased steadily during the past three years.

"The American policy has failed both in terms of politics and security, but the big problem is that they will not confess or admit that," said Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish member of parliament.

"They are telling the American public that the situation in Iraq will be improved, they want to encourage positive public opinion (in the U.S.), but the Iraqi citizens are seeing something different. They know the real situation."


Inside Green Zone

Othman charges that top U.S. officials spend most of their time in the heavily guarded Green Zone in Baghdad and at large military bases across the country, and don't know what's happening in the neighborhoods and provinces beyond.

Shiite Muslim parliament member Jalaladin al Saghir had a similar view.

"All the American policies have failed because the American analysis of the situation is wrong; it is not related to reality," Saghir said. "The slaughtered Iraqi man on the street conveys the best explanation" for what's happening in Iraq.

Some U.S. soldiers in Iraq reluctantly agree.

"As an intelligence officer ... I have had the chance to move around Baghdad on mounted and dismounted patrols and see the city and violence from the ground," wrote one U.S. military officer in Iraq.

"I think that the greatest problem that we deal (besides the insurgents and militia) with is that our leadership has no real comprehension of the ground truth. I wish that I could offer a solution, but I can't. When I have briefed General Officers, I have given them my perspective and assessment of the situation. Many have been surprised at what I have to say, but I suspect that in the end nothing will or has changed."

McClatchy is withholding the officer's name to protect him from retaliation by his superiors or political appointees in the Pentagon for communicating with the news media without authorization.

Nationwide statistics during the past three years suggest that U.S. efforts to secure Iraq aren't succeeding.

While various military operations have at times improved security in parts of the country, the bloodshed has mounted with each U.S.-declared step of progress, according to figures that the Brookings Institution research center compiled from news and government reports.

When L. Paul Bremer, then the top U.S. representative in Iraq, appointed an Iraqi Governing Council in July 2003, insurgent attacks averaged 16 daily. When Saddam Hussein was captured that December, the average was 19. When Bremer signed the hand-over of sovereignty in June 2004, it was 45 attacks daily. When Iraq had its elections for a transitional government in January 2005, it was 61. When U.S. forces killed Abu Musab al Zarqawi in June, it was up to 90.

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