THE SURGE….McClatchy reports that the surge may be starting to lose its effectiveness:

After months of declining violence, February is certain to be the third straight month to see increases in the numbers of Baghdad residents killed in car bombings and suicide attacks.

….Monday, a suicide car bomber drove his car into the Baghdad residence of a prominent leader of the Anbar Salvation Council….Later, Sheik Ali Hathem al Suleiman al Duleimy, who was injured in the attack, went on Iraqi TV and declared war against his enemies. He said that his militia, many of whose members are paid by the United States, no longer would allow the U.S. or Iraqi government to interfere with its work.

….Meanwhile, parliament Speaker Mahmoud al Mishhadani said that the legislature was paralyzed over budget disputes involving the Kurdish region and warned that other key pieces of legislation, such as an amnesty for prisoners and more power for provincial governments, could fail in the bickering.

Overall civilian fatalities in February, though still running at less than half the peak rate of 2006-07, are noticeably higher than in the past few months. Tension in the Sunni Awakening movement seems to be on the rise. Parliament is still deadlocked. Infrastructure improvements are nonexistent. And the surge is running out of time. I wonder what Plan H is?

UPDATE: On the other hand, here’s some breaking news on the legislative front:

Iraqi lawmakers overcame weeks of deadlock today to pass three key measures: a $48-billion national budget, an amnesty law and legislation paving the way for provincial elections by Oct. 1.

….Mahmoud Mashhadani, the parliament’s Sunni speaker who the previous night had said he should disband the legislature altogether, told reporters: “Today is a celebration for the Iraqi parliament.”

This is modest progress, but welcome. Stay tuned.

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