Two Updates on Iraq
Some sound-bites from the Petraeus briefing. "Exceedingly unhelpful activities by Iran and Syria, especially those by Iran of which we have learned a great deal in the past month ... Iraq is in fact the central front of al-Qaeda". A transcript of a Petraeus press briefing repeating many of his themes is here From the Petraeus transcript:
Progress in Anbar is almost something that's breathtaking. We have made huge inroads. I think that you just saw an announcement -- the killing of the security emir of al Qaeda Iraq in eastern Anbar province, the detention of the Qazali network. This is the secret cells of the Shi'a extremist network. I'm not sure whether we've announced it, but we picked up the Shavani (ph) network head in Iraq. That's the explosively formed projectile element inside Iraq that gets from the other in Iran the explosively formed projectiles. We have learned a great deal more about Iranian involvement, very nefarious involvement involving funding, training on Iranian soil, advice and the provision of, again, lots of arms and ammunition, including these explosively formed projectiles that have been so lethal against some of our armored vehicles.
Fred Kagan, at the Hugh Hewitt interview asserts:
Al Qaeda is surging against us, and I think that’s happening globally. I think that al Qaeda is funneling all of the resources it can into defeating us in Iraq, and it is funneling all of its resources in Iraq to creating spectacular attacks against us, and against innocent Iraqi civilians, both Sunni and Shia. And they’re indiscriminant in their killing. This isn’t really sectarian killing. This is just terrorism, plain and simple. And they are surging to try to break our will, and I hope to Heaven that we won’t let them.
I know for sure that it’s attracting them to the most obvious battlefield. Is it making more of them? I’m not sure. But if you take a look at the example of Afghanistan in the 1980’s, there was a situation where the Soviet presence, that was definitely manufacturing terrorists. And as long as the Soviets were there, they were fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan. As soon as the Soviets left, the terrorists didn’t just go home and take up gardening. They left, they moved all around the world, and then they started attacking us. That’s how we got al Qaeda. So the question really is, if we were to leave Iraq tomorrow, what would happen with these guys? And the answer for sure is that they would find other ways to attack an kill us elsewhere.
Yet it is undeniable is that Congress, despite these facts or perhaps because they do not credit these as facts, or even perhaps because they have facts of their own, have essentially attempted force a unilateral withdrawal. For whatever reason al-Qaeda is not far from succeeding by the looks of things.
One of the underaccounted costs of a unilateral surrender is that the US will be turning over its seed corn. The accumulated investment of years in developing assets in the Arab world, in building indigenous units and most of all in trust will be squandered at one stroke by short-sighted politicians who are thinking only of their election cycle. Here's Kagan again from the Hugh Hewitt show:
HH: One of the things I read in Max Boot’s piece, which I had not realized, is that the Iraqi special forces are operating along with our special forces at night in recon type situations, and are devastating the bad guys. That’s a change of significance.
FK: There have been a lot of changes along those lines. Iraqi forces at all levels are fighting in a very determined fashion. And even sometimes Iraqi local police, which no one has put any stock in, but a former cadet of mine who is now up in Salahaddin Province north of Baghdad, told me a story about the Iraqi local police who were engaged by a bunch of al Qaeda fighters who thought they would just drive through a checkpoint, and the local police shot them up, drove them off, and seized one of their cars. It was amazing. These Iraqi soldiers, both special forces even down to some of the local police guys, are fighting hard, putting their lives on the line, taking casualties and killing the enemy.
The training we have provided the Iraqis, the capability we have given them, even the equipment provided will all become the spoils of war for our opponents should that country fall to the enemy. Little wonder they are licking their lips. You would think Congress would be loathe to throw it all away? But as I said, it will think what it wants to think.