Petraeus admitted sectarian cleansing played a role in decreasing violence
Posted by Max Bergmann
Petraeus admitted that “sectarian hardening” has played a role in reducing violence. Spencer rightly points out that when saying "hardening," Petraeus really means ethnic cleansing. Walling off neighborhoods and the ethnic cleansing of neighborhoods is usually critical in reducing violence levels in ethnic conflicts. Following bursts in ethnic violence, groups seek protection in neighborhoods of a uniform sect. Targets of opportunities become rarer, as the conflict moves toward stalemate. Violence doesn't stop, but becomes more targeted and a sort of military stalemate takes place. The other major implication though of sectarian cleansing, is that the possibility for reconciliation substantially decreases as the trust between groups totally collapses.
The point being that a down tick in violence does not mean that the war is resolved or even improving. It can easily continue as a stalemate or, as we are experiencing, get much worse. These types of wars don't have to end. For example, just yesterday 54 were killed in Sri Lanka in a quarter-century long conflict that is not dissimilar to the one in Iraq. Not every conflict has a solution.