Posted by lex, on June 22nd, 2007
In the New York Post today, Amir Taheri points out some of the gains made by coalition forces in Iraq of late:
* The province of Anbar, Iraq’s wild west since ancient times, has been partly stabilized with the help of Sunni Arab tribes who have taken up arms against al Qaeda and its Ba’athist allies.
* In those of Baghdad neighborhoods where terrorists held sway, Iraqi security forces, backed by U.S. troops, are establishing an effective presence, allowing a slow return to normal. Reassured by the troop presence, the inhabitants of at least one neighborhood, Amiriyah, have chased away a terror outfit entrenched there since 2003.
* The Iraqi army, backed by U.S. and British troops, has moved onto the offensive in the Shiite south as well. This week a major operation smashed an extensive smuggling ring in Maysan province, shutting one route through which Iranian-made weapons are supplied to terrorists.
* Iraqi forces have designed and led a number of operations aimed at clearing the environs of Baghdad of insurgents and flushing out terrorist cells in Baquba’s orange groves. More than 5,000 Iraqi troops and some 2,000 paramilitaries are taking part in “combing out” operations in Diyala, the largest turnout of Iraqi forces at any one time since 1992.
* A new corps of Iraqi officers is taking shape, as hundreds of NCOs and officers up to the rank of two-star general from the disbanded army are re-inserted after extensive probing procedures.
* Recruitment in the new Iraqi army and police is up by almost 10 percent; the number of battle-tested battalions is up from 22 to almost 50.
* Iraq forces, backed by Coalition troops, are finally in control of the 1,483-kilometer land and water borders with Iran, which had been left virtually unsupervised since 2003. Only last month, the Iraqis and the Coalition established control over Al Qaim, the town that controls the border with Syria.
* Reports indicate that in the last 10 weeks the various armed enemies of new Iraq have suffered their heaviest losses since the start of the conflict four years ago.
But this being Iraq of course, there’s always bad news to go with the good: According to Taheri, the largely ineffective government lead by Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki is within a hair’s breadth of collapse, and voices are even being heard favoring a military coup.
What Iraq needs, however, is not another moustache. It needs to revitalize its political life by forming a new government, with new partners capable of garnering greater support inside and outside parliament. If that proves impossible, the way out is through early general elections.
If this keeps up, critics of General Petraeus’ “surge” strategy are going to have to screw their fingers ever deeper in their ears to avoid hearing uncomfortably positive news. On the other hand, those who insist that the solution to the problem of the Iraqi insurgency must be a political one – an overlapping constituency with the first – must be left to wonder how many arrows are actually in that quiver.
A country of their own, an end to the occupation, peace, jobs and prosperity: At some point, the Iraqi people are going to have to want it for themselves more than they want to deny it to their fellows.