Winners and Losers
The US has transferred security responsibility over Najaf to the Iraqi government. The US will continue to provide advisory and logistical help to the Iraqis however. According to the Washington Post:
NAJAF, Iraq, Sept. 6 -- The U.S. military pulled hundreds of troops out of the southern city of Najaf on Tuesday, transferring security duties to Iraqi forces and sticking to a schedule that the United States hopes will allow the withdrawal of tens of thousands of its forces by early spring. ... Other cities in the heavily Shiite south, and in the Kurdish north, are likely to be next.
In other developments, The New York Times reports that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said in a televised interview that Saddam Hussein has confessed to ordering the massacre of Kurds in Anfal in 1988. Hussein's lawyer called Talibani's statement a fabrication. Talibani is an ethnic Kurd.
It has been the presumption by some writers that if the Iraqi insurgency was not losing, it was automatically winning. But there is an argument to made for asserting the alternative: that if the insurgency wasn't winning then it was losing. If it failed to stop the gradual formation of organs of governance in the Kurdish and Shi'ite areas it would find itself further and further away from its goal to restore the status quo ante. The insurgents may have entertained hopes of driving US forces from Najaf; the Left may have believed that they could: but what chance do they have of driving the largely Shi'ite security forces from Najaf now? As United States forces begin to withdraw from Iraq the process in Najaf will be repeated in other Shi'ite and Kurdish localities. At some point the new Iraq, the Iraq irretrievably severed from its Ba'athist past will acquire a momentum too great to reverse.
The forthcoming trial of Saddam Hussein at the hands of a government which his own ethnic base has largely refused to join underscores this emerging reality. Saddam Hussein is the former President of Iraq. Jalal Talabani is the current President of that country. Neither Saddam nor the insurgency may like it; but there it is.