Posted by Curt on 2 September, 2008 at 7:03 pm. 4 comments already!


The media and leftwing bloggers were breathless in their depictions of Iraq and the Anbar province as a complete and utter failure a few years ago. Now, not so much. Very little was said yesterday in between their panic attacks over Sarah Palin about the handover of Anbar province to Iraqi troops and I would be remiss in not mentioning this achievement accomplished by the blood, sweat and tears of our troops and the brave Iraqi’s who heeded the call to serve their country:

captcpsnlo66010908113521photo01photodefault-512x333.jpgFile photo shows US Marines patrolling an area during an operation in Iraq’s western Anbar province. Iraqi forces have taken over control of Anbar, once the most explosive battlefield in Iraq, from the US military, symbolising the growing security gains in the war-torn country.
(AFP/USMC-HO/File/Cpl. Graham A. Paulgrove)

On Monday, following a parade on a freshly paved street, American commanders formally returned responsibility for keeping order in Anbar Province, once the heartland of the Sunni insurgency, to the Iraqi Army and police force. The ceremony capped one of the starkest turnabouts in the country since the war began five and a half years ago.

[A]s the parade marched along Main Street, the signs seemed mostly good. The ceremony was a mostly Iraqi affair, with American marines and soldiers wearing neither helmets nor body armor, nor carrying guns. The festive scene became an occasion for celebration by Iraqis and Americans, who at several moments wondered aloud in the sweltering heat how things had gone from so grim to so much better, so fast.

“Not in our wildest dreams could we have imagined this,” said Mowaffak al-Rubaie, the national security adviser. “Two or three years ago, had we suggested that the Iraqis could take responsibility, we would have been ridiculed, we would have been laughed at. This was the cradle of the Sunni insurgency.”

[B]y late 2006, the Islamic Movement of Holy Warriors began laying ambushes against Qaeda fighters, Mr. Faraji said. At roughly the same time, a Sunni sheik named Abdul Sattar Abu Risha approached the Americans for help and formed the first Awakening Council. By early 2007, the Islamic Movement of Holy Warriors had formed its own Awakening Council, and today Mr. Faraji is a colonel in the Iraqi police.

As for the Americans, Mr. Faraji said that his views had evolved. “They made mistakes, and so did we,” he said. “The past is past.”

Today, nearly 100,000 Iraqis, many of them former insurgents, are on the American payroll. Many, like Mr. Faraji, have been taken into the security services.

In some parts of Iraq, including Baghdad, the Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has issued orders to arrest hundreds of Awakening Council members it considers dangerous and expressed intentions of decommissioning the groups, nervous that so many Sunni gunmen are being allowed to roam freely. Mr. Maliki’s desires are aggravating sectarian tensions in these places.

But so far, the arrangements in Anbar seem immune to those strains. Perhaps because the province is almost entirely Sunni, there are no sectarian tensions to speak of. Only 4,000 people are still on the Awakening Councils’ rolls here, American officials here say, suggesting that many of the former insurgents have already been absorbed into the local police forces.

The striking turnaround in Anbar Province, accomplished by making deals with Sunni tribal leaders, has inevitably raised a question here: Could the Americans have avoided years of bloodshed by reaching out to the tribal leaders five and a half years ago?

“Yes, yes,” Mr. Rubaie said, shaking his head. “But they didn’t know.”

r2822156391.jpgMajor-General John Kelly (L), commander of U.S. forces in Anbar, and Anbar Governor Mamun Sami Rasheed sign papers during a handover ceremony at the government headquarters in Ramadi, 100 km (60 miles) west of Baghdad September 1, 2008. The U.S. military handed over Iraq’s Anbar province to Iraqi security forces on Monday, less than two years after it almost lost the western region to a Sunni Arab insurgency. REUTERS/Wathiq Khuzaie/Pool (IRAQ)

2008_08_31t131139_450x319_us_iraq_awakening.jpgIraqi soldiers carry the logo of Anbar Province as they practice marching in preparation for the hand over of the Anbar province in Ramadi, west of Baghdad, August 31, 2008. (Mohanned Faisal/Reuters)

Steve Schippert’s excellent piece today gets into the nitty gritty of this accomplishment and how thoroughly al-Qaeda has been beaten.

On Monday, control of Anbar province and responsibility for security there was handed over to Provincial Iraqi Control. This is a profoundly remarkable event, as al-Anbar province – the onetime headquarters for al-Qaeda in Iraq – was seen by many as lost due to security and political conditions on the ground.

And with Anbar now handed to Iraqis to manage security, it is appropriate to take a larger look at Iraq, and one from an Anbar-centric perspective. For Anbar was considered the tallest task of all less than two years ago. And what happened there to turn it around should be considered and applied where it can and in the manner that it can elsewhere — in and beyond Iraq — going forward.


Where once al-Qaeda ruled with quaking fear, the tables have been turned. Completely. Nothing illustrates this reality more than the handover of Anbar to Iraqi control this week. Where Iraqis once dared not speak certain things in public because brutal al-Qaeda and their ruthless allies seemed potentially everywhere, now the opposite is true.

Al-Qaeda is now a withering group, driven from edge to edge by a population no longer at their mercy and no longer afraid to stand up, confident that American and Iraqi forces arrived to stay, to protect them.

Without sanctuary, lacking coordination, choked from resources and facing a crushing loss of confidence and support from al-Qaeda’s senior leadership within its global headquarters in the wild frontiers of Pakistan’s mountain ranges, al-Qaeda in Iraq faces desperation and dire straits.

They are clearly still capable of deadly attacks, with suicide vests so powerful they are being mistaken for car bombs. However, while the loss of life and injury to Iraqis in each bombing is difficult to endure, for al-Qaeda, the whole of their desperate efforts is less than the sum of its parts. Tactical successes with strategic insignificance.

For, unlike the Iraqi citizens of Ramadi who stood, fought and died in defiance of al-Qaeda like cornered dogs with nothing to lose, al-Qaeda is now instead an organization of scattered dogs, with no human concentration let alone haven from which to spring.

And this is how a counterinsurgency strategy transitions to one of counterterrorism.


Was it ‘The Surge’ that brought such a dramatic change and reversal of fortunes? If you think of ‘The Surge’ as a troop count, then no. But if you think of ‘The Surge’ as a conscious decision to change strategies and leave our bases and protect entire swaths of the Iraqi population from al-Qaeda, and thereby giving them the confidence – and armed support – necessary to fight back for their streets, neighborhoods, towns and cities, then yes. It was ‘The Surge.’

captcpsnlo64010908113521photo04photodefault-418x512.jpgMap of Iraq showing provinces transferred from US to Iraqi control. The US military on Monday handed over security control of Anbar, once the most explosive battlefield in Iraq, to local forces as Iraqi Sunnis begin observing the holy month of Ramadan. (AFP/Gil)

And email from Major General John Kelly, USMC, CG Multi-National Force – West puts it succinctly:


Going down to sign the Provincial Iraqi Control document with the Government of Iraq. This war isn’t over but almost. We haven’t quite won but almost. Light at the end of the tunnel almost blinding us. Can’t hale but think of Chance Phelps and the 1,000+ other wonderful American Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines who have died here in Al Anbar. Attached are my remarks.

Semper Fi,


Job well done, and a job that should be highlighted a bit more by the same MSM and lefty idiots who were calling the war lost a few years back.

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