There seems to be more media reports coming out of Iraq about how things are 'turning the corner' or somehow getting better - 'better' being 'lass that loads of people are dying each day'. The problem is that it seems the U$ forces have re-classified how they count their dead and wounded, the Iraqi government also does not count the dead and it is still too dangerous for reporters not surrounded by armed brigades to see what is really going on. But this excellent article tries to get to the root of the matter;
In entering these strongholds, the U.S. military won tactical victories, chasing surviving militia members off the streets or even out of neighborhoods, which, without their local police and defense forces, were suddenly vulnerable to sectarian attack.
This vulnerability was all-too-vividly illustrated in Sadr City, the stronghold of the Sadrist movement. As the home base of the Mahdi Army, this city-within-a-city had not experienced a car bomb attack in two years until American troops sealed it off, set up check points at key entrance and exit points, and began patrols aimed at hunting down Mahdi Army leaders they suspected of participating in death squads and of kidnapping an American soldier. Local residents told New York Times reporter Sabrina Tavernise that the operation had "forced Mahdi Army members who were patrolling the streets to vanish." Soon after, the first car bombs were detonated.
The violence reached a crescendo in November 2006, when a coordinated set of five car bombs killed at least 215 and wounded 257. Qusai Abdul-Wahab, a Sadrist member of parliament, spoke for many residents of the community when he told the Associated Press that the "occupation forces are fully responsible for these acts."
Such events generated immense bitterness among Shia, who took them as proof that the Americans and the Iraqi government were concerned only with attacking the Mahdis, not suppressing jihadist attacks. This encouraged their support of the death squads, which sought to exact retribution on the Sunni communities they believed were harboring the bombers.
As early as May of 2006, Nir Rosen, one of the most informed and insightful journalists writing about Iraq, presciently described the American military's unenviable position in this way: "[T]he American Army is lost in Iraq, as it has been since it arrived. Striking at Sunnis, striking at Shias, striking at mostly innocent people. Unable to distinguish between anybody, certainly unable to wield any power, except on the immediate street corner where it's located… [T]he Americans are just one more militia lost in the anarchy." This description was never truer than today in Baghdad.