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Securing Baghdad

Our top general in Iraq said yesterday coalition forces will be refocusing their efforts on securing Baghdad:

"The situation with sectarian violence in Baghdad is very serious," Gen. John P. Abizaid of the Army, the head of the United States Central Command, said in an interview on Friday. "The country can deal with the insurgency better than it can with the sectarian violence, and it needs to move decisively against the sectarian violence now."

The new Iraqi government announced last month that it was stepping up security efforts in Baghdad. The killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian militant who led Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, also prompted hopes that the tide of violence might subside.

But an intensifying cycle of sectarian attacks and revenge killings by Sunni and Shiite groups have engulfed the city. Many residents have been fleeing the capital. Two months after the new Iraq government took office, the security gains that "we had hoped for have not been achieved," General Abizaid acknowledged.

Let's hope this shift brings the desired result of taming the sectarian violence in the Iraqi capital.

Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki will be in Washington D.C. on Tuesday to meet with President Bush and also with members of Congress in what one White House aide described as a "roll up your sleeves" type of visit.

Maliki continued to push ahead with efforts of national reconciliation yesterday, announcing the formation of a 30-member commission that will begin holding hearings and drawing up the details of the plan.