Deeply Encouraging News From Iraq . . . And Some Of The Reaction
By Pejman Yousefzadeh Posted in Barack Obama | Iraq | John McCain | The Surge | War — Comments (2) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
First, let's go to the "deeply encouraging news part":
American and Iraqi forces are driving Al-Qaeda in Iraq out of its last redoubt in the north of the country in the culmination of one of the most spectacular victories of the war on terror.
After being forced from its strongholds in the west and centre of Iraq in the past two years, Al-Qaeda's dwindling band of fighters has made a defiant "last stand" in the northern city of Mosul.
A huge operation to crush the 1,200 fighters who remained from a terrorist force once estimated at more than 12,000 began on May 10.
Operation Lion's Roar, in which the Iraqi army combined forces with the Americans' 3rd Armoured Cavalry Regiment, has already resulted in the death of Abu Khalaf, the Al-Qaeda leader, and the capture of more than 1,000 suspects.
The group has been reduced to hit-and-run attacks, including one that killed two off-duty policemen yesterday, and sporadic bombings aimed at killing large numbers of officials and civilians.
[. . .]
Major-General Mark Hertling, American commander in the north, said: "I think we're at the irreversible point."
Read on . . .
More here, including the following observation--which should be obvious by now:
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.
Andrew Sullivan reacts to this news by informing us that "this all makes Obama's 16 month withdrawal timetable more and more feasible," an observation which mistakes "we are winning" for "we have won." The latter cannot yet be claimed, but Sullivan regularly tries to claim it in order to back his preferred Presidential candidate's withdrawal plans, the facts on the ground and the disaster that would engulf Iraq in the event that Obama's precipitous withdrawal plans were implemented notwithstanding. Of course, Sullivan does not that the election will be about making "a judgment call" between McCain and Obama. Considering that McCain was right about the surge and Obama decried it and continues to deny that the surge is working, "the judgment call" is not, in fact, all that difficult to make.
Somewhat relatedly, we have this funny blog post from Abe "Don't Call Me 'Glenn'" Greenwald. Now that the New York Times has made it clear that it inserts editorial biases in its stories, perhaps it could also note that those biases are not at all commensurate with the facts on the ground in Iraq.