Jul 02 2007

Iraq Approaching A Tipping Point

The news in Iraq is becoming so broadly positive even the SurrenderMedia cannot escape it any more. As I predicted way back in March from early reports hinting at the connection between the Surge and the turn around in Anbar Province, the Surge effort could provide the tipping point for Iraq if it built upon the tactics Anbar of reaching out to local leaders to cleanse their areas of al-Qaeda. And this is exactly what the Surge was – a regional replay of the success in Anbar.

The hard part in all this was removing any hope of success from the insurgents, which were being led by long time Baathist leaders from Hussein’s 3 decade rule of the country. And the Baathist had good reason to try and fight it out, it was a fight to the death for them – a continuation of the war itself:

This is a major operation, with 9,000 Americans and a thousand Iraqi troops (and police) involved. In addition, there are several hundred local irregulars, who have switched sides. This is a big change in the Baghdad suburbs. While tribal leaders and warlords in the west (Anbar province) have been turning on terrorist groups, especially al Qaeda, for several years, the gangs of Baghdad were more resistant to changing sides. That’s because Baghdad is the home of Saddam’s staunchest supporters. These guys are prime candidates for war crimes prosecutions, for the many atrocities committed by Saddams’ secret police over the decades. While the government has been willing to offer amnesty to many lower ranking Baath party members, the Baghdad neighborhoods and suburbs are full of people considered too dirty to qualify. This is the no-surrender crowd. But let’s face it, these guys are also all over the lists Shia death squads carry. Iran has even offered cash rewards for the deaths of many Saddam lieutenants who were involved in the 1980s Iran-Iraq war, or subsequent murders of Shia clergy. The Kurds have their death lists as well. These are desperate and dangerous people.

Three years of fighting has reduced the original 100,000 or so core Saddam thugs, to a few thousand diehards. Three years ago, there were hundreds of thousands of allies and supporters from the Sunni minority (then, about five million people, now, less than half that), who wanted to be back in charge. Now the remaining Sunni Arabs just want to be left in peace. Thus the Sunni nationalists of Baqouba are shooting at, and turning in, their old allies from Saddams Baath party and secret police. This isn’t easy for some of these guys, but it’s seen as a matter of survival.

The determination of our military and our Commander-in-Chief have slowly whittled away these internal insurgent forces in Iraq. As this happened al-Qaeda joined forces to help their Sunni brethren, which turned out to be the biggest mistake the Iraq insurgents made. As al-Qaeda set up shop it did more than provide arms and fighters, it brought Islamo Fascism to a country that had not yet seen it in all its brutality. And it turned out to be much worse than Saddam’s regime – especially for his leading strongmen. It was so bad it fueled a sea change of alliances in Iraq:

The new force in Abu Ghraib includes not only members of prominent local tribes, but fighters from the Brigades of the 1920 Revolution (Rev20) and the Islamic Army, two Sunni insurgent groups established to fight US forces.

Both oppose the occupation, but in Anbar and some western Baghdad neighbourhoods they have a tacit ceasefire with US-led security forces while fighting to expel the Iraq franchise of Osama Bin Laden’s jihadi network.

For at least one leader of the group, who goes by the nom de guerre Sheikh Karrar, the decision to switch sides was personal.

“When the occupation forces entered our country and overthrew the previous regime, I became a fighter in ‘Tawhid (Unity) and Jihad Group,’ which later became Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia,” he told AFP.

“But afterwards, there was a radical change in their strategy. They started issuing religious edicts declaring that the Iraqi army and police were apostates and that we should fight them.”

“The operations changed from resisting the occupation to internal battling.”

When Sheikh Karrar refused to obey the new orders, an Al-Qaeda-run court sentenced him to be flogged, then deprived him of food in an attempt to force him to return. It was then that he escaped and joined the Brigades.

Now he and other fighters are coordinating with Iraqi police units in Fallujah to expel Al-Qaeda from a string of villages along the 50 kilometre-long road from Baghdad.

“We expelled them from their most important strongholds and have cut off their financial support by retaking towns on the highway where they used to kidnap people in order to finance their operations,” Sheikh Karrar said.

Those who still think democracy doesn’t have a chance in the ME never appreciated the horrors of the alternative. Sadly this may become the way to kill off al-Qaeda. Give it a toe hold within an ambivalent or misguided population and let it work its magic. Before long those same ambivalent people will become freedom fighters clamoring for democracy as the full meaning of Islamo Fascism is seared into their consciences. But back to Iraq.

As the tide turns it is also picking up energy. Like a Tsunami building to wipe out everything in its path, the change in alliance is crushing al-Qaeda and all other insurgent cells and greatly reducing civilian casualties – at least for the first couple of weeks.

American and Iraqi officials said Sunday that they saw a decline in the monthly civilian casualty count in June, a development that occurred as the American troop increase reached full strength.

However, the size of the decline was hard to gauge because death counts in Iraq are highly inaccurate. Some bombing victims’ bodies are never recovered, families often collect their dead before they can be counted by officials, and the dead bodies found around Baghdad, while generally taken to the city morgue, are sometimes taken to hospitals where they may not be counted.

An American military spokesman, Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, said there had been only “a slight decrease in the month of June.” He added that it was “a potential downward trend” and that the military would be closely watching the numbers in the coming weeks. The Americans do not make specific figures public.

He added that American and Iraqi troops were just two weeks into a major operation against Sunni insurgents in the belts around Baghdad. “We can’t tell yet the effect we’re having,” he said. “But reducing deaths in the civilian population is why we’re doing what we’re doing.”

Iraqi officials estimated that civilian deaths nationwide had dropped 36 percent in June, down to about 1,200. Civilian casualties in May had topped 1,900, they said. The Web site icasualties.org, which tabulates news reports of civilian deaths, put the number of deaths in June at about 1,342, down from 1,980 in May.

More here from a different source. In fact these results are being reported everywhere. There is some noise here and there that the counting of the dead is inaccurate, but that is a denier’s smokescreen. If the counting is using the same process for the last year or more, then any drop in deaths is real. How much and how long it will last can be debated. But it is happening.

As is something else – the exposure of Iran’s not so secret war with the US using Hezbollah fighters and trainers, in addition to their elite Quds Force. A top Hezbollah fighter, recently caught in Iraq, has admitted that Iran and Hezbollah were behind the killings of 5 US soldiers in January, as well as other incidents which resulted in the death’s of US citizens:

The US military in Iraq has accused Iran of orchestrating an attack that killed five US soldiers and of using Lebanese militants to train insurgents.
The information came from a top Hezbollah fighter recently captured in southern Iraq, an army spokesman said.

Brig-Gen Kevin Bergner said the suspect admitted working with the Quds Force, linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

Gen Bergner said the Quds Force and the Iranian-backed Lebanese Shia organisation Hezbollah were jointly operating camps near Tehran in which they trained Iraqi fighters before sending them back to Iraq to conduct attacks.

Gen Bergner said Hezbollah’s Ali Moussa Dakdouk – who he said was captured in southern Iraq in March – was the liaison between Iran’s shadowy Quds Force and a breakaway Shia group.

Gen Bergner said it was this group – led by Qays al-Khazaali, a former spokesman for cleric Moqtada Sadr – that carried out the attack against the provincial government building in Karbala in January.

Mr Dakdouk “was directed by the Iranian Quds Force to move Iraqis in and out of Iraq and report on the training and operations of Iraqi special groups,” Gen Bergner said.

“They were being taught how to use EFPs (explosively-formed penetrators), mortars, rockets, as well as intelligence, sniper, and kidnapping operations,” he added.

Moqtada Sadr is in a lot of hot water over this. Iran and Iraq are long time enemies. And while many Shiia have ties to the Shiite run Iran, they Iraqis are still primarily Arab and the Iranians primarily Persian, with not a lot of love lost between the two. Sadr’s people being caught red handed working with Iran is not going to go over well since those bombs kill Muslim Arabs as well as some US soldiers. The problem is the same for Sadr as for al-Qaeda – lots of Muslim deaths later these radicals are seen as more of a danger than any US soldier. But what has to be emphasized is we know have direct links to Iranian leaders in these incidents:

General Bergner declined to speculate on the Iranian motivations. But he said that interrogations of Qais Khazali, a Shiite militant who oversaw Iranian-supported cells in Iraq and who was captured several months ago along with another militant, Laith Khazali, his brother, showed that Iran’s Quds force helped plan the operation.

Similar information was obtained following the capture of a senior Hezbollah operative, Ali Musa Daqduq, General Bergner said. The capture of Mr. Daqduq had remained secret until today.

“Both Ali Musa Daqduq and Qais Khazali state that senior leadership within the Quds force knew of and supported planning for the eventual Karbala attack that killed five coalition soldiers,” General Bergner said.

Documents seized from Qais Khazali, General Bergner said, showed that Iran’s Quds Force provided detailed information on the activities of American soldiers in Karbala, including shift changes and the defenses at the site.

This is an act of war on Iran’s part and needs to be dealt as such. If we smack Iran hard enough to make sure they back off permanently, Iraq will have the opportunity to settle in and govern itself. The world has to much vested in Iraq’s success right now to let Iran get away with not only killing our people, but destroying any hope their death’s can mean something historic in the end. It is time to do something serious about Iran. Not invade – that is not necessary or wise. But if Clinton could take out an sspirin factory and a training camp for much lesser acts against us in the 1990’s, i am confident we can send a self guided message or two to Iran to address these acts.

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Iraq Approaching A Tipping Point”

  1. MerlinOS2 says:


    Sort of reminds me of some of the worst examples of hunt clubs.

    Take a 40 acre plot, put a bunch of rednecks in the pickup trucks around the perimeter, release about a dozen wild hogs into the property.

    Then close the trucks to the middle getting the hogs into a smaller and smaller area and soon the trucks and the hogs meet where the hogs are totally surrounded in a perfect killing field.

    Same principle different execution (pun intended).

  2. thecentercannothold says:

    “Sadr’s people being caught red handed working with Iran is not going to go over well :

    AJ should know al Sadr announced long ago if America attacks
    Iran all Iraqi Shia will rise to their defense.

    Funny how his popularity ratings among Iraqis only rose since then.