Friday, September 19, 2008

A Surge in Understanding

A new analysis of satellite imagery has lead researchers to the conclusion that ethnic cleansing, which predated the surge of troops in Baghdad, is cause of the reduced violence in the city.

US military officials may have taken credit where none is due for decreasing violence in Baghdad with their troop surge of February 2007, data from satellite imaging suggests.

By comparing the amount of light produced at night in different areas of the capital before, during and after the 30,000 extra troops had been deployed, researchers from UCLA were able to track the movements of the warring Sunni and Shiite factions.

The amount of light was assumed to reflect the number of lights switched on in an area. Combining that with a map of neighbourhood boundaries showed that the lights had dimmed much more in the Sunni dominated west and south-western regions of Baghdad.

But this change began before the influx of extra troops. The light levels in four other major cities untouched by the surge remained constant or increased during the period.

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