Satellite images taken at night [from a US Department of Defence weather satellite] show heavily Sunni Arab neighborhoods of Baghdad began emptying before a U.S. troop surge in 2007, graphic evidence of ethnic cleansing that preceded a drop in violence, according to a report published on Friday.
The images support the view of international refugee organizations and Iraq experts that a major population shift was a key factor in the decline in sectarian violence, particularly in the Iraqi capital, the epicenter of the bloodletting in which hundreds of thousands were killed.
"Our findings suggest that the surge has had no observable effect, except insofar as it has helped to provide a seal of approval for a process of ethno-sectarian neighborhood homogenization that is now largely achieved." -- Journal of Environment and Planning A
"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." - New Scientist
Some 2 million Iraqis are displaced within Iraq, while 2 million more have sought refuge in neighboring Syria and Jordan. Previously religiously mixed neighborhoods of Baghdad became homogenized Sunni or Shi'ite Muslim enclaves.
But this won't stop John McCain from congratulating himself and running his campaign on the success of "the surge." Predictably, smear groups are trying to swiftboat Obama on this issue.