Murphy's Law: Remember Iraq?

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February 28, 2008: Remember Iraq? You know, the war we lost? The big failure we were wasting our lives and "treasure" on? Yeah, that one. Haven't heard much about it lately, right? That's because Iraq has disappeared off the international radar, and for good reasons. Enemy activity levels are at the lowest levels in years. The Iraqi Police and military is growing in leaps and bounds. Half of the country has been turned back over to Iraqi control and next month, Anbar Province will become the tenth province turned over. So what has been going on there anyway?

Politically, the Iraqi Parliament has been passing landmark legislation on Baathist (Sunni Arab) reconciliation, oil revenues, and provincial elections. They even passed a budget. Numerous political parties have come together and compromised to move the country further. The economy continues to grow and the people are prospering.

What was once the resistance has woken up and become the Sahawa Movement or the "Awakening". They became Concerned Local Citizens (CLCs), now Sons of Iraq (SoI). They number over 80,000 today and approximately one quarter will go on to join the Iraqi Police or Army. Other members will work in the public sector. Others will go back to work.

In 2007, Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) lost 75 percent of its members and now numbers in the thousands. As the tables turned in 2007, members of AQI switched sides and have begun providing intelligence to Coalition Forces. What was once a larger organization almost able to bring the nation into a civil war, is now a collection of networks hunted constantly by Coalition Forces and the Iraqis themselves. AQI looses key leadership on an almost daily basis. The group has moved northward or is hiding in rural areas. AQI is not eliminated yet and is still able to attack, but is not what it once was.

Back in August, Shia radical Muqtada al Sadr called a six-month ceasefire for the Mahdi Army (Jaysh al Mahdi or JAM). Recently, the call was renewed despite cries within the organization to resume militia activity. What was once a massive organization estimated at 40,000 strong is splintered and has remained inactive for over six months. One of the splinters is the Special Groups, who were backed by Iran with money, training, and weapons. Special Groups have also lost key leadership and are most active in one neighborhood in north Baghdad.

The idea of Kurdish separatism was dropped with the Turkish pursuit of the Kurdish Worker's Party (PKK) in northern Iraq. Iraqi Kurds evaluated their situation in Iraq and their relationship with Turkey and took sides against the PKK. The PKK has lost hundreds of fighters and facilities. They took a gamble and lost.

Iraq has not reached its ideal end state yet. It will take more time to eliminate AQI and Special Groups from the country and spread stability to all corners of the country. Events in Iraq have been eclipsed by incidents in Pakistan, North Africa, and Lebanon. Events elsewhere have become more pivotal in the Global War on Terrorism. -- Jonathan Henry jhenry@osianintel.com

 


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