The verdict is in: Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) is on the ropes. Apparently this extraordinary news has not reached everyone though. A New York Times opinion article today points to the desperate need for increased focus on Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, while discounting the same efforts in Iraq.
The alarming resurgence of Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan makes it even more imperative for the United States to begin planning for a swift and orderly withdrawal from Iraq.
The notion that fighting Al Qaeda in one country is more important than another is delusional. While the editors at the NYT believe we should seek to “ensure that Iraq’s chaos does not spin further out of control or spread even further over its borders,” they fail to connect the very basic dots; the only way to end the chaos in Iraq is to eradicate its source: Al Qaeda.
Al Qaeda is to blame for much of the violence in Iraq. It fuels the insurgency and terrorizes ordinary citizens. The good news is that it is losing ground. It is no coincidence that this directly follows the surge of U.S. forces in Iraq last year, led by General Patraeus and the efforts of the new Iraqi Army. The gains made over AQI in the past 18 months are tangible and significant, leaving AQI with little ability to execute attacks.
Times Online quoted Brigadier-General Abdullah Abdul, a senior Iraqi commander, “Al Qaeda in Mosul is pretty much not able to do the attacks that they could do previously. They are doing small attacks and trying to do big ones but they are mostly not succeeding.” At the same time, the influx of American soldiers offers protection to Iraqis, which has effectively deterred most from siding with insurgents.
Iraqi insurgents have begun to accept offers of amnesty and abandon their links to terrorists. Granted, the process of political reconciliation is far from over, but what an important development it is when Iraqis argue amongst themselves within a democratic political process, instead of through violence on the streets of Baghdad.
Al Qaeda is on the path to permanent defeat and Iraq’s future is now pointed in a direction of peace and freedom. Unfortunately, most American politicians would rather apply blame and advance their political careers than send a strong message to terrorists by unequivocally decimating the remnants of Al Qaeda in Iraq.