Michael Ubaldi, September 17, 2004.
It's ironic that those fumbling with the right way to suggest retreat from Iraq and the Near East wreath their detractions in "realism," since they admit their own unpreparedness for the challenges and uncertainties in this war. Victor Davis Hanson:
It is true that parts of Iraq are unsafe and that terrorists are flowing into the country; but there is no doubt that the removal of Saddam Hussein is bringing matters to a head. Islamic fascists are now fighting openly and losing battles, and are increasingly desperate as they realize the democratization process slowly grinds ahead leaving them and what they have to offer by the wayside. Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and others must send aid to the terrorists and stealthy warriors into Iraq, for the battle is not just for Baghdad but for their futures as well. The world's attention is turning to Syria's occupation of Lebanon and Iran's nukes, a new scrutiny predicated on American initiatives and persistence, and easily evaporated by a withdrawal from Iraq. So by taking the fight to the heart of darkness in Saddam's realm, we have opened the climactic phase of the war, and thereupon can either win or lose far more than Iraq.
Iraq and Afghanistan define both our struggle and our peril. Who are we, together with Iraqis and Afghans, fighting? Terrorists and the statist groups supporting them. What terrorists do to Afghans and Iraqis is exactly what they would do to us, here in America, given the chance. The only "realism" in this debate is the rejection of isolationism, and cultural and moral relativism — the failed policies that have allowed every modern authoritarian phenomenon to grow into a world-spanning threat.
Michael Ubaldi, September 15, 2004.
A poignant snippet from a Strategy Page excerpt on Instapundit:
Although a minority in the country (about 20 percent of the population), the Sunni Arab tribes control most of central and western Iraq. The way the media covers the Sunni Arab violence, you get the impression that the entire country is in flames. But in most of Iraq, American civil affairs teams, and civilian aid workers report no violence or unrest at all. That, however is not news. Sunni Arab terrorists are news, and it's mostly Sunni Arabs who are being called on to fight the violence. Despite the attacks on local police (who are recruited locally) and civilians who support the government, resistance to "the resistance" is everywhere. Most Iraqis don't want the 20th-Century tyranny of Saddam, or the 14th-Century lifestyle of al Qaeda.
That is the comforting truth we know. What's bothersome is how easily the left conflates the few thousand terrorists and gangsters in Iraq with a population of 25 million — and writes the entire country off.
Michael Ubaldi, September 14, 2004.
While a fair-weather urbanite treads water too deep for the fugacious, Iraqi Mohmammed, who's sure his "window" for freedom hasn't "closed," offers commentary on terrorist operations in the Sunni Triangle (emphasis my own):
The latest information [on Fallujah] I received indicate that seven major "armies" have united their efforts; the "armies" are: Mohammed's army, Al-Farouq's battalions, the Salafies, Ansar Al-Sunna and three other groups I couldn't get their names.
The "army" commanders know for sure that these preparations will never grant them victory but the primary objective they've agreed on is to level Fallujah with the ground as part of a plan to ruin the reputation of the government and the multinational forces by forcing them to enter a bloody and destructive battle that will end with negative consequences even for the winner in a critical time where events and news have a strong impact on political field in both Iraq and America.
This subject however, cannot be resolved by talks, the terrorists have made up their mind to confront the legitimate authorities.
...I want to point out that the citizens of Fallujah have had enough of those fighters who lost a great deal of their support, if they had any, but the problem is that they still have the power and they still get support from the clerics and the extremists.
It's also worth mentioning that the news I heard from inside Fallujah confirm that the bombarded targets we hear about in the news every now and then did belong to Zarqawi followers and those targets were identified and chosen according to reports from the Fallujans most of the times.
This does not, by any means, mean that the military power should be set free without any monitoring or questioning, but we simply should not overestimate the danger because weíll be underestimating the people's lust for freedom and how much they are ready to give to have it, and this will be an insult to them. Iíve always felt insulted by the anti-war and human shields who came to Iraq before the war telling me that they were here to protect me! That was very insulting to my intelligence, my dignity and humanity. Protect me from what? Freedom and having a dignified and honorable life?!
I think there is no other choice but to confront them and this is the choice they want to impose on the government, so this is going to be a tough challenge but unfortunately, thereís no other way.
Man's natural yearning for liberty will defeat terrorism by reclaiming humanity from authoritarian societies. Completely lost on the self-absorbed, relativist left, Iraqis have weathered a terrific storm from fanatics who declared them mortal enemies the moment they chose to live freely; their quick embrace of democracy and rejection of rule by strength is a subtle but powerful narrative of victory over adversity, Mark Twain's "mastery of fear." Iraqis are not the first people to win and defend their freedom with blood, nor will they be the last. These are things easy to understand with a robust faith in natural rights and the dignity of free men; impossible, under trial, for the fickle. Iraq should choose its allies wisely.
Michael Ubaldi, September 10, 2004.
Iran gets its tentacles slapped away:
Residents of Najaf, Iraq took to the streets Monday calling on radical cleric Moqtada Sadr and his Mehdi Army militia to leave the holy Shiite city.
Witnesses said protesters chanted anti-Sadr slogans screaming "take your hands off the city, the people of Najaf do not want you."
The protest, the second of its kind in two days, coincided with a meeting in Najaf between Sadr and grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in addition to Najaf's governor Adnan al-Zarfi and Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, head of the Iran-backed Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, or SCIRI.
It's plainly obvious that the window for Islamofascists to culturally destabilize Iraq through the Shiite community has closed. If American forces can keep terrorists' heads down long enough to build an Iraqi force capable of destroying insurgent pockets with little or no help from Multinational Forces, as appears to be the plan, Iraqis will have won themselves a permanent victory, military and societal, for their new country and liberty. As always, they deserve our confidence in their sincerity to build a democratic nation.
Searching for the immediately previous entry, I inevitably read a few others from the same time period and couldn't help but make an observation on a relevant point: leftists, who once "assumed that a dictator would be plucked from Ba'athist remnants and set to watch over the country as oil deposits were bled dry," and accused the Bush administration of lying when it promised to build a democracy, are now telling the world that Iraqi democracy is not worth our trouble. The left's bluff is called.
Michael Ubaldi, September 8, 2004.
It looks like the "stall" theory wins out. General Richard Myers at a press briefing yesterday (emphasis my own):
The overall strategy is one that General Casey has been working on very closely with the Iraqi interim government. They have a strategy for the cities. Part of that strategy is that Iraqi security forces must be properly equipped, trained and led to participate in these security operations, and then once it's over can sustain the peace in a given city. And while U.S. forces or coalition forces on their own can do just about anything we want to do, it makes a lot more sense that it be a sustained operation, one that can be sustained by Iraqi security forces. And as the secretary has said and I think we've said here before, we're — that's what we're about is trying to improve the equipping and the training and the leadership in the Iraqi security forces so they're able to do these operations.
... Q: But given the — given the really slow pace at which the Iraqis are being adequately equipped and trained to take on the insurgents, what is the advantage, then, to leaving these insurgents in place in what are essentially safe havens now?
GEN. MYERS: Well, there's more to this strategy than what I said, and that starts to get into the operational issue in terms of how you try to isolate certain communities, and so forth, and set the conditions for successful use of force later on, if you have to go there. With respect to equipping and training Iraqi security forces — you said slow to equip and train — it's relative. By December, we're going to have a substantial number of Iraqi security forces equipped, trained and led to conduct the kind of operations I was talking about.
Whether or not this strategy is in everyone's best interests can be argued; but at least we have insight into the military's thinking.
Michael Ubaldi, September 8, 2004.
I found this in the newsfeed on a financial website, from CNN no less:
Iraq has exported about 130,000 tons of scrap metal to Jordanian trading companies following the U.S.-led invasion, including SA-2 missile engines and equipment that could have been used to make banned weapons, according to U.N. weapons inspectors.
...Among the items discovered at the Jordanian scrap yards were 20 SA-2 missile engines, a solid propellant mixing vessel tagged by UNMOVIC during its 2002-2003 inspection activities in Iraq, parts of an SA-2 air frame and booster and four chemical-related vessels tagged as dual-use items — for legitimate civilian or illicit military use.
We already know of the incriminating finds made by CIA weapons hunters David Kay and Charles Duelfer, acceptance of which is usually contingent upon one's political leanings. But the other stuff? Between Saddam's highly suspected export to Syria and his junkyard back door, one is reminded of barrels of alcohol smashed and emptied and scattered before G-Men arrived to raid a warehouse eighty-some years ago — the trick of course, was to restart production as soon as the heat was off, a trick Saddam would use with the news from his Franco-Russo allies that, like in 1998, no army would be coming to take him.
Michael Ubaldi, September 5, 2004.
Fayrouz Hancock has translated an article reporting Iranian support and direction for terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi:
A reliable Iranian source confirmed that Brig. Gen. Qassim Sullaimani, the commander of Al-Quds corps in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, told a closed seminar that Iran provides facilities to the Jordanian extremist scholar, Abu Mosaab Al-Zarqawi. Al-Zarqawi is accused of conducting most of the suicide operations and attacks in Iraq. Sullaimani justified this cooperation because Al-Zarqawi's activities in Iraq "serve the high interests of the Islamic Republic." Among these interests is the prevention of a federalist secular regime in Iraq that cooperates with the United States.
We shouldn't be surprised — Iraq is the war's front line, a democracy to be the bane of Islamists and authoritarians.
CARRY ON, CARRY ON: Meanwhile, Freddie Mercury has come back from the grave to help topple Tehran's mullahs.
Michael Ubaldi, September 5, 2004.
The Iraqi Defense Ministry is reporting the capture of former Ba'athist commander Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri.
EVEN BETTER: With the apparent capture came the end for scores of terrorist scum:
Iraqi Minister of State Wael Abdul al-Latif told Reuters it was "75 to 90 percent certain" the captured man was Ibrahim. He said 70 of the man's supporters were killed and 80 captured when they tried to prevent him being seized.
Every one counts.
HENCE MY QUESTION MARK: The man in question is not al-Douri. But the insurgents are dead. Good enough.
Michael Ubaldi, September 4, 2004.
As I said recently, "the mounting frustration of Iraqi democrats at [Muqtada] al-Sadr's perpetuation should neither be underestimated nor assumed detrimental." It has sparked public anger — at the murderous Khomeinist stooge himself:
In Najaf, scores of demonstrators took to the streets in the battle-scarred heart of the city near the Imam Ali shrine to protest the presence of al-Sadr and his militia and to back Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani, who brokered last week's peace deal. The agreement called for the Mahdi Army to give up its arms, but many militia members in Najaf are thought to have kept them, hiding them at home or elsewhere.
"The demands of the demonstrators in general and for the people of Najaf especially are to ensure safety and security and to have stability back," said one protester, 38-year-old Abu Mohammed al-Najafi, identifying himself with a nickname.
Demonstrators shouted chants denouncing al-Sadr, including one that equated him with deposed dictator Saddam Hussein.
Events such as this, matched with news of an Iraqi army base's opening, finish another stitch in terrorism's own burial hammock. (First link via IP.)
Michael Ubaldi, September 2, 2004.
Muqtada al-Sadr disrupted and brutally ended the lives of innocents and Allied soldiers, but according to Central Command, failed to make a dent in the progress of rebuilding Iraq:
During combat operations in Najaf, I Marine Expeditionary Forceís 3rd Civil Affairs Group continued work on several projects that had been underway well before militia forces triggered three weeks of fighting there.
...Construction of the Sadeer Canal in An Najaf and a new bridge in Qadisiyah are almost complete. Repairs and reconstruction on the An Najaf Teaching Hospital are ongoing. A recent flooding problem has been stabilized and pipes and pumps are being brought in from Baghdad to fix the problem. Civil Affairs will help in the reconstruction of government buildings damaged in the fighting. New construction includes plans for a building that will house the Provincial Council, which is currently collocated with the Governorís office.
Schools and mosques in both Najaf and Kufa will be refurbished, repaired and where necessary, rebuilt. A womenís center for Internet and newspaper access is under construction in Qadisiyah in order to improve the flow of information to residents in the area. Other projects include reconstruction of Misain and the Taha Hussein School, Al Sahla Mosque in Kufa repairs, clean-up of the Al Faris Al Arabi, Maarifa Nahil and Nabu Khuth Nasir Schools in Najaf, and Qadisiyah Teachers Union construction.
One of the lingering marks of terrorist mayhem since April has been its effect on physical reconstruction; Engineering News Record has been particularly attentive to constant frustrations to Iraq's oil exportation. Journalists have run a narrative sidecar to that reality, however; one that portrays every square inch of Iraq as dangerous, targeted and condemned to deterioration and collapse. A favorite description for Najaf has been a deserted, wrecked city; that even if al-Sadr's Mahdi gangs had been flattened again and the false cleric forced to advertise for street thugs with no sense of small-unit tactics or self-preservation, any semblance of restoration had been shattered, requiring everyone to pick up the pieces and start over at greater physical and political disadvantage. But this report shows another dimension of failure on behalf of Iran and their Islamist rabble-rouser, one that exemplifies the hard-won success that Iraq is on the path to becoming. Despite terrorist attacks, intimidation and destruction, Iraq and its people, helped by an American-led alliance, reclaim the dignity granted them by their Maker; their spirits haven't been broken, so why their walls and bridges?
THE PRESS AND ITS NARRATIVES: By now we've all heard or read of a precision attack on terrorists in Fallujah. Press reports ensure the claims of civilian deaths from insurgent-influenced, local officials are published. As usual, the military provides clarity: the target in question was a couple of buildings, surrounded by a field. Just a schoolboy clubhouse, eh, conducting a routine execution?