Friday, November 23, 2007

Iraq Improves Remarkably - And Dino Media Grudgingly Acknowledges It

What ever is the Angry left going to do? Iraq is improving remarkably, and even the NYT and the Washington Post can't get away with the same old `quagmire' nonsense any more.

In this WAPO piece, the reporter does his very best to urinate on the parade, but even he has to admit to the progress being made:

Iraqis are returning to their homeland by the hundreds each day, by bus, car and plane, encouraged by weeks of decreased violence and increased security, or compelled by visa and residency restrictions in neighboring countries and the depletion of their savings.

Those returning make up only a tiny fraction of the 2.2 million Iraqis who have fled Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. But they represent the largest number of returnees since February 2006, when sectarian violence began to rise dramatically, speeding the exodus from Iraq.

Many find a Baghdad they no longer recognize, a city altered by blast walls and sectarian rifts. Under the improved security, Iraqis are gingerly testing how far their new liberties allow them to go. But they are also facing many barriers, geographical and psychological, hardened by violence and mistrust.

Days after she returned from Syria, 23-year-old Melal al-Zubaidi and a friend went to the market on a pleasant night to eat ice cream. It was a short walk, yet unthinkable only a month ago for a woman in the capital. {...}

Over the past two months, the level of nearly every type of violence -- car bombings, assassinations, suicide attacks -- has dropped from earlier this year. The downturn is a result of a confluence of factors: This year, 30,000 U.S. military reinforcements were funneled into Baghdad and other areas. Sunni tribes and insurgents turned against the al-Qaeda in Iraq insurgent group and partnered with U.S. forces to patrol neighborhoods and towns. Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, seeking to improve his movement's image, ordered his Mahdi Army militia to freeze operations.

U.N. refugee officials estimate that 45,000 Iraqis returned from Syria last month, while Iraqi officials say 1,000 are arriving each day.

The returnees find a capital that offers greater freedom of movement. Shops are open later in many neighborhoods, and curfews have been reduced.

But those freedoms still come with constraints. Weddings, accompanied by honking cars and lively bands, are reappearing on the streets, but they still end before darkness falls. Visits to relatives and friends across Baghdad are more possible but still hinge on which group or sect controls each neighborhood. Some stores are selling alcohol, but fundamentalists watch for those who breach their codes.

Luay Hashimi, 31, returned to his house in Dora with his wife and three young children last month after fleeing to Syria nine months ago. Since then, 11 other relatives who also had left for Syria -- Sunnis like him -- have come back, too.

Hashimi no longer sees bodies in the street when he opens his front door. Sunni extremists no longer man checkpoints to search his vehicle for alcohol or signs of collaboration with the government or the Americans. Roads are being paved, and municipal workers are sprucing up parks and traffic circles. His patch of Dora is now a fortress, surrounded by tall blast walls that separate entire blocks.

"It's totally secured," said Hashimi, who was an intelligence officer during the government of Saddam Hussein. But a few days ago, he drove across the main highway to another section of Dora. He felt a familiar fear. "You're lost there. You don't know who controls the area, Sunni or Shia, American soldiers or Iraqi security forces. It's still chaotic."

Melal al-Zubaidi is optimistic. When she fled to Syria, she was terrified to drive through Anbar province, where Sunni militants were pulling Shiites from buses and killing them. This time, the bus drove throughout the night.

"That comforted me," Zubaidi said. "I expect that security will improve day by day. People are tired of conflict."

Still, she has lines that she is not yet willing to cross. She has not visited her old university, fearing car bombs or kidnappings. In a nation where neighbors are often as close as relatives, Zubaidi is wary of trusting people in her community. "We're still afraid to meet new people," she said. "This district is still strange for me. . . . I don't want to take risks."

"The situation is much better, but it still feels soft, unsteady," Um Melal said. "Until now, we have not made a final decision to go back or stay. We're waiting to see what happens.

"I expect Baghdad will come back sooner or later," she continued. "But that needs time. If you want to build a wall, it takes you 10 days. But if you want to demolish the wall, it takes you 10 minutes."

Progress indeed, especially given Iraq's bloody history. Much of the rest, of course, will be up to the Iraqis themselves.


Anonymous said...

FF, I recall that your position on Iraq was either retreat to Kurdistan and leave the rest of the country to the terrorists, or "confront" Iran and Syria. It seems like we have finally found a middle way, with a strategy that's working in Iraq, as you have pointed out on numerous occasions. Perhaps if we keep this up, war with Iran and Syria won't be necessary, and we can still provide security and democracy in Iraq?

Anonymous said...

Freedom Fighter, who is a true freedom fighter and a blooger who I think is one of the best bloggers on the internet, finishes his post by the following words: "much of the rest, of course, will be up to the Iraqis themselves." Freedom Fighter is spot on. Unfortunately I don't see the Iraqis being up to the task. I pray that I am wrong of course.

First of all, as an American patriot, I will NEVER root against the success of my country. I want us to achieve a situation where Iraq is; a.)allied with the US in the Global War against Terrorism, b.)is stable, and c.)is democratic. In my opinion, achieving goals and a and b would be a satisfactory outcome.

During the civil war Abraham Lincoln said the following, to roughly paraphrase, "If I can win the civil war without freeing a single slave I would do it." I apply the same thing to the Global War on Terrorism. If we can with the Global War against Terrorism without liberating a single Arab or follower of Islam we should do it.

The problems I see with the current strategy are there does not seem to be much in the way of political progress made by the Iraqis. While brave American and allied troops have provided space for the parties to reach an accomodation not much seems to have been done here by the parties themselves. Perhaps there is progress and I have missed it. After all, the main stream news media typically only covers any progress in Iraq only when circumstances force them to.

The Americans can only continue the surge through the first part of 2008. After this the tours for our soldiers are up and they will need to be rotated back home. Even if we had the troops to continue the surge, the political will to commit them beyond early 2008 is lacking. As it stands now, the American people will not support it. In sum, we have the "perfect storm" of sorts. The American Army is being worn down and cannot continue with its present committment in Iraq much beyond January to Februraary
2008. Even if it could continue, as things stand now, the American people will not support it nor will the major donors to the major political parties.

Whether anyone likes it or not all US personnel will be completely out of Iraq by September 2008. If any troops remain, they will be positioned in Kurdistan, however, this is unlikely to happen. This would run the risk of putting American troops in the line of fire during an invasion of Kurdistan by Turkey. Neither the American people nor the political elites will support such a situation. As such, there will be no American personnel of any type any where in Iraq by 10/1/2008.

Unfortunately, when the surge ends, the cycle of violence likely goes back up to what it was before the surge began. I pray I'm wrong of course. I truly want this mission to succeed.

While I want the mission to succeed and I will do EVERYTHING in my power to help it succeed, I think we would get better utility for our national security interests by following an alternative strategy. This strategy can be summarized as follows. 1.)Build more oil refineries and immediately begin to develop more of our own oil, coal, and gas reserves. This will inlcude drilling in ANWR, developing more of our vast coal reserves, and extracting the oil shale that we have. 2.) Withdraw all troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. These troops should be used to secure America's northern and southern borders.
3.) Place a moratorium on all immigration into the US for a minimum of five years. The moratorium should continue for as long as it takes to fix our immigration system. The minimum will be five years. 4.) As most terrorists come from the Middle East, a moratorium on immigration from Muslim countries should be instituted that should last for an indefinite period of time. 5.) As the chief supporters of Islamic terrorists are Russia and China, a moratorium on immigration from these countries should be indefinite as well. Russia is the most dangerous threat facing the United States right now. All Russians who are currently here should be escorted out of the country immediately. 6.)The mosques should be closely monitored. Islamic terrorists get their biggest domestic support from anti-American leftist groups. These anti-American leftist groups need to be closely monitored. 7.)Any Islamic groups or mosques who preach the destruction of the US should be shut down. The same goes for any group be they anti-American leftists or whatever who calls for the destruction of the US or supports, in any way shape or form, anyone who calls for the destruction of the US. No country outside of the Western world tolerates groups within their countries who call for their destruction or the death of their citizens. Why should America be any different? Perhaps if America sets a positive example here the rest of the free world will follow.

Our biggest problem is the anti-American left has controlled the government bueracracy, the main strean news media, the CIA, the FBI, the public education system, the entertainment industry, and the elite universities for the last forty years or so. The bitter fruits of this are America and its leaders no longer have enough moral confidence in their positions to adequately defend ANY of America's interests. The entire Western world faces simillar problems to what the US faces. In order for America or the West to defend themselves, we must have moral confidence in our position.

If there is some good news, our enemies have grown arrogant. They are very likely to over play their hand. Given their extreme arrogance, they are going to make mistakes. If we can be alert, we should be able to capitalize.

Freedom Fighter said...

Hi Nazar, Actually, if you'll recall, what I wrote was that the US should encourage our one true ally by helping to create a strong independent Kurdisatn and putting our bases there - hardly what I'd characterize as a `retreat'!It would have doubled our combat forces without sending a single extra American over there, and I'm still not convinced it isn't a good idea.

Moreover, it was based on facts on the and the no win strategy being pursued on the ground.

The way things are now, I think there's a decent chance to turn things around, provided we deal with Iran and Syria.

It's not in their interest to see a stable, multi-ethnic functioning democracy in Iraq, and until they're humiliated and defeated, certain elements in Iraq are going to go along with that program.

That's simply the way much of the Middle East is - at your throat or at your feet. Th ewhole culture of th eMuslim world is based on strength and submission.

BTW, I have this funny habit when it comes to facts and my opinions..when the facts change, I change my opinion! What do you do, sir?

All Best, and thanks as always for dropping by...

Hi Poster, Thanks for the kind words.

While I agree with you that our borders need to be secured, it's largely unneccessary to put massive amounts of troops on our borders. Legislation such as I've discussed here before will take care of much of the illegal border traffic,plus allow thos illegal aliens with no interest in becoming Americans to self=deport.

And legal immigrants are a net plus to the country IF WE VET THEM.
Over 20,000 new Americans from all over th eworld have earned their citizenship by fighting in our military since 2002.We simply need a `points' system, similar to Canada's and Australia's.

Iraq will never be an `ally' in the War on Jihad ( puh-leeze don't use the term `war on terror!')but I think we can get things to th epoint where it's no longer a hotbed of Islamist terrorism...PROVIDED we deal with Iran first. That's the missing piece to solving Iraq.

All Best,

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the reply to my post. What I proposed with regards to a solution to the illegal immigration problem may not be the best idea. You may well be right about immigrants being a net plus to our country. Over twenty thousand have fought for the US since 2002 you say. I have seen the ceremonies making these brave soldiers full citizens of the US but I had no idea it was this many!! In any event, I'm sure they all immigrated here legally. It is the illegal immigrants who are the problem.

You may well be right about overall immigration being a net plus to our country. At one time, I definitely would have agreed with you, however, with all of the programs such as medicaid and other programs being paid for with regards to these people and the fact that many of them do not have insurance I'm not so sure we are getting a negative benefit.

I agree with you that we need to vet them. The point system that Canada and Austrailia has seems to be a good idea. People should be allowed in based on how they benefit the country. It is going to take some time to fix our current system. Troops on the borders probably does not have to be a permanent solution. I estimate it will take about five years or so to fix our current system. Until we get the system fixed, we may well need a moratorium on immigration from any where. With that said I admit I could be wrong. I certainly don't want to deny anyone the American dream but we MUST fix our immigration system. If we don't, the American dream is in grave danger for everyone.

"War on Terrorims" is a lazy term. The terms you have used "War against Jihad" is much more accurate, however, I think a better description would be "War against Islamo-Communism." This acknowledges that the Islamic Jihadists are backed up by the leading Communist countries of Russia, China, Venezuela, and North Korea. Better yet we should just list every enemy nation by name and formulate action plans to deal with each of them.

Russia seems to me to be by far and away the single biggest threat to the US. Russia is the primary backer of Iran, Syria, and other Islamic terrorists. If we can use diplomacy of some type to get Russia to withdraw their support from the Islamic terrorists, the Islamic terrorists will be much easier to defeat.

Anonymous said...

I actually think Iraq can be an "ally" in the war against Jihad. The key will be to provide security for the average Iraqi and to supply them with a good reason to assist us. We have made some progress on the security front but there remains much work to be done. Iraq is still very much a work in progress. It could go either way right now.