Monday, January 29, 2007

What Has Changed?

Meanwhile, events in Iraq continue to escalate at a rate far greater than one would expect from the prospect of the arrival of 21,000 troops. If this report from Iraq the Model is accurate, there has been a change of psychological atmosphere which is rippling through the capital. Iraq the Model quotes the Arabic online newspaper Azzaman as saying major operations will start February 5 against militant leaders as part of an even wider operation.


We talked earlier about insurgents and terrorists fleeing Baghdad to Diyala, and today there's another report about a similar migration, from al-Sabah:

Eyewitnesses in some volatile areas said that large numbers of militants have fled to Syria to avoid being trapped in the incoming security operations. According to those witnesses, residents and shopkeepers are no longer concerned about militants whose existence in public used to bring on clashes that put the lives of civilians in danger. A shopkeeper in al-Karkh [western Baghdad] said that many of them [militants] packed their stuff and headed to Syria to wait and see what the operations are going to be like. While experts consider this a failure in protecting the plan's secrecy which might lead to the loss of the surprise factor, they also say it indicates the seriousness and resolve in this plan that is already scaring away the militants. PM Maliki pointed out that seeing them run away is a good thing but he returned and said the security forces would chase them down everywhere after Baghdad is clear.

As we said in the last update, Maliki won unanimous support for his plan in the parliament and despite some opposition from the radical factions the major blocs are expressing their support and approval of the plan.

Meanwhile, President Bush warned that the US would "respond firmly" if Iran escalates its military action in Iraq. Whether that means Iran is home free if it keeps its interference at the current level remains to be seen. ABC Australia reported:

The United States has accused Iran of supporting terrorism in Iraq and supplying weapons - including roadside bombs - to kill American troops. Now Mr Bush has issued a stern warning to Iran's leaders. "If Iran escalates its military action in Iraq to the detriment of our troops and/or innocent Iraqi people, we will respond firmly," he said. The US recently confirmed it has authorized its troops to kill or capture Iranian agents who are operating in Iraq.

Commentary

Apparently America is being taken seriously again, despite the fact that significant reinforcement has not arrived. What changed if the level of forces remained relatively static?  Possibly the perception of America's will to win, which has taken a self-beating all these past months, is back. But, as President Bush's recent mild statement against Iranian interference illustrates, this psychological ascendance will probably last for only as long as it takes for those determined to dilute it to succeed. There will be a time for conciliation and diplomacy. But it should come only after the enemy, including Iran, is decisively beaten. This does not necessarily have to happen on a kinetic battlefield or involve large scale fighting, but it must nevertheless occur. Only a meaningful victory can provide the diplomatic ground for peace. Defeat by definition is barren. Recent events suggest it is a race to see whether victory can be achieved before we once again assert our determination to lose.

5 Comments:

Blogger Wu Wei said...

This interview with the General in charge of Anbar sounds like the "smoking gun", the proof that we need to stay in Iraq.

The General flat out says that native Iraqis, under the control of Al Qaeda, are attempting to set up a caliphate, another Taliban state. And that state would be run by global Al Qaeda, bin Laden! Anyone who says we can leave Iraq would need to explain why they think if we give bin Laden a second chance, that he won't do the same thing?

If the Iraqis really want to partition their country, that would leave an independent and purely Al Qaeda-run and Taliban-like Sunnistan as a seperate country. That situation does not exist anywhere else in the world, including Pakistan.

Also, the General says that the Iraqi Al Qaeda is led by global Al Qaeda, in other words, bin Laden, etc. So if we allow Sunnistan to form, we are providing safe haven to bin Laden and the rest of the Al Qaeda group responsible for 9/11.

Since we are working with local Iraqi Sheiks who want our help, there is no excuse that we are "occupiers".

If this is really the case, and the General is very clear, then I don't see what the excuse would be to not provide the help Iraq wants. If we can't stop another bin Laden-led Al Qaeda country from forming, then what does preventing another 9/11 mean?

Quotes below in bold:

During a video news conference from the provincial town of Falluja, Maj. Gen. Richard Zilmer said the insurgents intend to create a strict Islamic state, similar to Afghanistan's Taliban regime before the U.S.-led invasion toppled it in 2001.

They want "a caliphate state out here," he said. "They want to turn back the hands of time. It is antithetical to progress and, again, any positive future." ...

Most insurgents who are battling U.S.-led forces in Iraq's Anbar province are local Iraqis loyal to al Qaeda, and not foreign fighters, the U.S. commander in the region said Monday...

He added that the extra forces "will provide that additional time for us to develop the Iraqi army and the Iraqi police, which, as I said, at the end of the day are essential to the long-term security and stability in Anbar province."

Although local insurgents make up the lion's share of fighters in Anbar, Zilmer said there are "certainly foreign fighters who are part and parcel" of day-to-day rebel operations.

He said foreign fighters are not "the overwhelming driving force that causes al Qaeda to function out here."

But Zilmer did say that Anbar's Sunni insurgents are "largely led by al Qaeda" and take their direction from the larger al Qaeda organization, which he described as "absolutely ruthless."

1/29/2007 02:25:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

Here is the correct link to the article.

1/29/2007 02:28:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

In today's Opinionjournal.com there is an article by Fouad Ajami which states:

"But there can be no denying that with the surge the landscape has altered in Baghdad, and that Mr. Bush is invested in the Maliki government as never before."

The bottom line is that the Surge's most important impact has been very clearly to blow off both the Iraq Study Group and the Democrats' win in November.

The Battle of Britain was finally decided on that day when, after weeks of intense bombing and confident German claims that the RAF had been wiped out, a major Luftwaffe attack on London was met with an even stronger fighter defense than had been seen before. It was a fluke - Douglas Bader's "Big Wing" mass defense had finally, for once, got it's act together - but it came after the Germans were sure they had the British on the ropes. And it was too much; they gave up.

1/30/2007 07:17:00 AM  
Blogger breakdown said...

Many Iraqs are prpared to die for their cause, so numbers dead, makes no difference.
They do not sit there thinking, the Yanks are comming or my god, we are going to die, they think, bring it on, if I die so what, I will be a hero.

Not until every extremist is killed, will the war be over.
Of course we knew that before we went in because we have seen it before.
A dignified withdrawal is the only option, but of course it will not happen until the next president.
mark
Car Breakdown Cover

2/02/2007 01:53:00 PM  
Blogger Jesse said...

"During a video news conference from the provincial town of Falluja, Maj. Gen. Richard Zilmer said the insurgents intend to create a strict Islamic state, similar to Afghanistan's Taliban regime before the U.S.-led invasion toppled it in 2001."

This is exactly what the late Z said in his letters, if you remember he was in Iraq before the war. AQ knew they could not overthrow Saddam, that was deliberately left for the coalition, after Saddam was overthrown the focus was then to undermine US public support for the war enough so that just like in Vietman (yes the word Vietman was mentioned in the late Z's letters) we would pull out. Then in the chaotic vacuum AQ could take over and establish their beloved caliphate.

I wonder how many read and remember the late Z's letters?????

2/02/2007 07:04:00 PM  

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