In this morning’s WaPo: Al-Qaeda In Iraq Reported Crippled:
The U.S. military believes it has dealt devastating and perhaps irreversible blows to al-Qaeda in Iraq in recent months, leading some generals to advocate a declaration of victory over the group, which the Bush administration has long described as the most lethal U.S. adversary in Iraq.
The deployment of more U.S. and Iraqi forces into AQI strongholds in Anbar province and the Baghdad area, as well as the recruitment of Sunni tribal fighters to combat AQI operatives in those locations, has helped to deprive the militants of a secure base of operations, U.S. military officials said.
Just yesterday the WaPo was reporting that violence had decreased,
In September, Iraqi civilian deaths were down 52 percent from August and 77 percent from September 2006, according to the Web site icasualties.org. The Iraqi Health Ministry and the Associated Press reported similar results. U.S. soldiers killed in action numbered 43 — down 43 percent from August and 64 percent from May, which had the highest monthly figure so far this year. The American combat death total was the lowest since July 2006 and was one of the five lowest monthly counts since the insurgency in Iraq took off in April 2004.
Al-Qaeda is on the run,
the Iraqis are stepping up their battle against al-Qaeda,
the media overplays the Shia-Sunni divide,
the Iraqi army is emerging as our ally,
Iraqis are optimistic.
Matt is right there with the troops. He knows what he’s talking about. Listen to the podcast (Matt comes in 27 minutes into the podcast due to problems getting a connection; he called from a satellite phone in a tent in Anbar).
Matt writes about Anbar:
Territory itself, the physical land, has become synonymous with the Corps. Anbar belongs to the Marines, although after having traveled throughout the province, it’s fair to say there’s plenty of Army, Navy and Air Force here too. The tranquility of the Anbar province is seen as a result of the Corps’ presence, and justifiably so. Of all the forces in Iraq, it seems as if the Marine Corps has not only adapted to the harsh conditions, but actually thrives.
Not only Matt – Bill Roggio, also in Iraq, writes that Violence in Iraq drops dramatically due to local intervention:
The push against al Qaeda has been matched equally with a push against the Iranian-backed Shia terror groups — known as the Special Groups — and the “rogue” Mahdi Army. US forces killed and captured numerous Special Groups operatives and six members of Iran’s Qods Force, Iran’s foreign wing of the Revolutionary Guards Corps. Qods Force set up the Ramazan Corps and three subcommands to operate within Iraq; the US captured the commander of the Zafr command.
US commanders have repeatedly said there is a short shelf life on the amount of time the local security forces will operate without recognition and support from the central government. The dramatic development of local security forces, along with the change in US strategy and the deployment of additional forces are directly responsible for decreasing the violence in Iraq. The Iraqi government must make the next move and recognize these auxiliary police units, which are in already working hand in hand with US and Iraqi forces.
You must read Matt and Bill’s reports. They are the ones in the battlefields. It is vital to an understanding of how the media manipulates the narrative
But back to the WaPo articles: Ed Morrissey explalins,
Why not rush to declare victory? Plenty of reasons come to mind, but one overriding concern is credibility. We’re in a credibility war with radical Islamist terrorists, and in a weird way, it has a dynamic in reverse of terrorism. We often tell ourselves, and correctly so, that we can defend against a thousand terrorist attacks successfully and feel like nothing’s changed, but the terrorists only have to be successful once.
However, that’s at the tactical level. At the strategic level, the situation is really reversed. The Islamists base their entire system on the supposition that God (Allah) has ordained them to beat the infidel and recover the ummah for Islam. They can’t afford to be seen to have lost land to the infidels, because it would disprove their entire raison d’etre. If they can’t hold the ummah, then they’re not chosen by Allah at all.
A defeat in Iraq (and Afghanistan) will strip them of their legitimacy among Muslims. They cannot abide defeat and retreat, because they cannot run from the ummah and claim at the same time to be its holy defenders. That’s one reason among several why victory in Iraq is so critical — and why it’s critical to get it right in declaring it.