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It’s All Over: Al-Qaeda’s Last Stand

Marie Colvin at The London Times, [1] reports on troop movements and successes in Iraq. Of course nobody in the domestic press has bothered to notice, since apparently success isn’t the picture the domestic mainstream media has decided it wants to paint in this election year. Still;

In the past week, as the weapons finds slowed to a trickle and the attacks declined to just 13, Americans and Iraqis alike were elated but not complacent. A car bomb that killed 18 people and wounded 80 in Mosul 10 days ago served as a reminder that the enemy has yet to be eliminated.

Nevertheless, the speed of Al-Qaeda’s decline in Iraq – not only in the north but throughout the country – has taken many military strategists and observers by surprise.

In Zarqawi’s day, a ruthless campaign of suicide bombings, abductions and beheadings paralysed the country and thwarted US efforts to pacify it. By the end of 2006 some were predicting an American defeat.

The reversal of fortunes is attributed to the “surge” strategy of General David Petraeus, the commander of US forces, who targeted Al-Qaeda in Iraq above all else after securing an extra 30,000 troops last year.

His officers exploited local resentment of the terrorists and promised to protect those who resisted them. Under Petraeus’s plan, they established awakening councils, or groups calling themselves concerned local citizens. These Sunni groups helped to drive Al-Qaeda from many of its bastions.

US and Iraqi forces were then able to retake large swathes of the country and complete the “clearing” of cities such as Ramadi and Falluja and large areas of Baghdad. The overall number of attacks in Iraq has fallen by 80% in the past year alone.

Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister, has gone on in recent months to reassert control over Basra in the south and Baghdad’s Sadr City, the two main strongholds of the Shi’ite Mahdi Army.

As for Mosul, the battle has been crucial to both sides and the Americans believe that it could have repercussions for Al-Qaeda beyond Iraq. “Al-Qaeda has its propaganda value from fighting the infidels and this is the central operating theatre for that battle,” said Brown. “If they are pushed out of Iraq that is a huge defeat for them.”

And so they are in fact being pushed out. Remember, dear reader, there are those who figured we had no chance of winning, and wanted us to pull out, Vietnam style. Apparently, however, we have learned the lessons of Vietnam well; “Don’t listen to the anti-war crowd. Keep going until you win.”

The reaction of the left to our victory in Iraq is mildly amusing to watch… they seem to be focused on trying to justify their months and months of calls for our withdrawal,  and their saying we need to withdraw because we cant win. Now that we’ve won the thing, they seem lost in their own excuses.

OTB has more, too. [2]