Is al-Qaeda on the Run in Iraq?And there's more:
By JOE KLEIN
May. 23, 2007
There is good news from Iraq, believe it or not. It comes from the most unlikely place: Anbar province, home of the Sunni insurgency. The level of violence has plummeted in recent weeks. An alliance of U.S. troops and local tribes has been very effective in moving against the al-Qaeda foreign fighters. A senior U.S. military official told me—confirming reports from several other sources—that there have been "a couple of days recently during which there were zero effective attacks and less than 10 attacks overall in the province (keep in mind that an attack can be as little as one round fired). This is a result of sheiks stepping up and opposing AQI [al-Qaeda in Iraq] and volunteering their young men to serve in the police and army units there." The success in Anbar has led sheiks in at least two other Sunni-dominated provinces, Nineveh and Salahaddin, to ask for similar alliances against the foreign fighters. And, as TIME's Bobby Ghosh has reported, an influential leader of the Sunni insurgency, Harith al-Dari, has turned against al-Qaeda as well. It is possible that al-Qaeda is being rejected like a mismatched liver transplant by the body of the Iraqi insurgency.
You bet we can win
BY FREDERICK KAGAN
New York Daily News
May 21st 2007
Iraq is the central front in the war against Al Qaeda. And we are beginning to win. These are not talking points. They are facts on the ground, as I saw during my recent trips there.
Though you may be getting the opposite impression from news reports, the sectarian violence that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had unleashed by destroying the Samarra Mosque in February 2006 has subsided. Measured weekly, sectarian killings are down by almost two-thirds since the start of the Baghdad security plan. Anbar Province, Al Qaeda's former sanctuary in western Iraq, has turned against the terrorists. Anbaris by the thousands are signing up to fight against Al Qaeda. Violent attacks in the province are down by 50% and combined casualties down by 65% between early January and mid-May.
The movement is spreading. Sheiks in Diyala, Salah-ad-Din and Babil provinces are reaching out to coalition forces to help us.
This is not the moment to consider withdrawal time lines that would snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, as the U.S. Congress seems determined to do. It is the time to redouble our efforts.
It is true that the overall level of violence in Iraq remains high, and American soldiers are still dying. Scores of terrorists flow into Iraq every month, detonating suicide car bombs against civilians, Iraqi security forces and American troops. This is the core of the security problem faced by our troops and by innocent Iraqis.
But looking at these casualty numbers alone distorts reality. Security is improving across Baghdad, even in traditionally bad areas. In early May, I walked and drove through these neighborhoods. Haifa St., scene of day-long gunfights between Al Qaeda terrorists and coalition forces in January, is calm and starting to revive. Its market is open and flourishing.
Even in Baghdad's Dora neighborhood, some of which remains very dangerous, the market now has more than 200 shops - up from zero in February. Across the city, Iraqis are reaching out to coalition and Iraqi troops with tips and requests for help.
In some areas, that help takes the form of attacking the enemy and responding to enemy counterattacks. But as we kill and capture these evil people, we create safety in our wake. We are not standing between warring communities. We stand between terrorists and murderers and their innocent victims, both Sunni and Shia.
It will take time for that safety to take hold. It will take time for our enemies to accept their defeat and stop fighting. Demanding total victory by September is unrealistic. But we are making progress, and by then, I am confident we will be making more.
One thing impressed me above all on my most recent trip, from which I returned on May 13: Ordinary Iraqis have not given up. Sadrists in the parliament may demand our withdrawal, but the government of Iraq has repeatedly asked us to stay. Iraqi soldiers and police are fighting Al Qaeda and Shia militias every day, sacrificing alongside our troops.
One Iraqi commander told me, "Anyone who says the Americans should leave now is not a real Iraqi citizen."
Growing numbers of Iraqis are joining the struggle against those who want to derail Iraq's chances for security and stability. We must not let them down, and we must not let ourselves down. This is a fight that we can and must win.
Meanwhile, a U.S. raid in Bagdad has uncovered a large stash of Iranian cash and bombmaking material.
We're defeating Al Queda in Iraq. Let's keep it up and defeat Iran in Iraq too!