Iraq: Awakening from Terror

Via Michael Ledeen, here's JD Johannes at Outside the Wire:
"In fact, there is a civil war in progress in Iraq, one comparable in important respects to other civil wars that have occurred in postcolonial states with weak institutions. Those cases suggest that the Bush administration's political objective in Iraq--creating a stable, peaceful, somewhat democratic regime that can survive the departure of U.S. troops--is unrealistic." Professor James D. Fearon, writing in the March/April edition of Foreign Affairs.

There is one problem with Professor Fearon's thesis--the facts on the ground that I am seeing right now and that he has not seen in person or not seen recently.

A major part of Fearon's well reasoned argument is that U.S. support for the Maliki government, "encourages Sunni nationalists to turn to al Qaeda in Iraq for support against Shiite militias and the Iraqi army."

His argument is logical and would be correct if the Sunnis of Anbar cooperated with his argument--but they are not cooperating with the good professor's thesis. In fact, they are doing just the opposite. The Sunnis of Anbar are now siding with the coalition and fighting Al Qaeda.

Go to the post to find out what happened in Shiabi when a new sheriff named General Sadoon came to town.

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross on the strategy and the surge:
The Strategy: Virtually all the U.S. officials with whom I spoke feel that American strategy now boils down to a single goal: strategic disengagement. That is, the U.S. wants to strengthen the Iraqi government to the point that it is self-sustaining enough that the country will not collapse into chaos as U.S. troops are brought back home. ...

U.S. strategy is not just military in nature. Rather, it is designed to eliminate some of the underlying conditions that sap the average Iraqi's faith in the country's civil society. For example, in the districts that 2-32 patrols -- Yarmouk and Hateen -- there are four lines of operation: security, governance, economy, and essential services. According to Major Brynt Parmeter, who works at the brigade level, the overall goals are to reduce sectarian fighting, increase the Iraqi security forces' capabilities, and improve local government to empower it to provide the services that Iraqis need. ...

The Surge: Multiple military sources stated that my patrols with 2-32 provided a snapshot of the fruits of the surge. One of the surge's stated goals was to stabilize Baghdad. In Yarmouk, the surge functioned just as military leadership hoped. I spoke with a large number of soldiers in 2-32 about the state of Yarmouk when they arrived, and all of them painted the same picture: the soldiers would routinely find corpses and there were a large number of IEDs and VBIEDs (vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices). On one dangerous road that the U.S. military calls Whitesnake (other Baghdad road names form a virtual tribute to Eighties bands), there was only one checkpoint. There are now three, and the Iraqi army presence makes it harder for insurgents to plant IEDs.

Multiple sources informed me that since 2-32 moved to Yarmouk as part of the surge, a lot of residents who had previously left have moved back, and a number of stores have opened up. ...

Read the full article at The Fourth Rail.

In the first days after his battalion began operating in east Baghdad’s Sha’ab neighborhood, Capt. Will Canda said he often saw the beds of Iraqi police trucks stained red with dried blood.

“It was like they had just come from a butcher shop,” said Canda, a Westcliffe, Colo. native and commander of Company B, 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment.

Like wagons rolling through plague-stricken villages in medieval times, the police trucks were being used to pick up the bodies of murder victims found littering the neighborhood.

That was in February, when Canda’s battalion became one of the first units to move into a battle space as part of Operation Fardh al Qanoon – which translated, means “enforcing the law” and is the name for the strategy to stabilize violence in Baghdad by pushing thousands of additional U.S. and Iraqi forces into the city’s neighborhoods.

Since then, troops have continued to pour in, dotting Baghdad with small outposts and joint security stations.

Top U.S. commanders have cautioned that any verdict on the overall success of the plan will have to wait until after all units are in place and conducting operations. But Canda and his paratroopers have been on the ground long enough to begin drawing their own conclusions.

Three months after they arrived in Sha’ab, the bodies are gone, the murders have stopped, and the neighborhood has come back to life, Canda said.

“It’s night and day from when we got here,” he said. ...

Remarks. As Steve at ThreatsWatch observes, the real "surge" in Iraq is The Awakening:
Led by Sheikh Abd al-Sattar from Ramadi, The Awakening is the national anti-al-Qaeda grassroots movement that sprang from the Anbar Salvation Council. Its significance for Iraq and Iraqis going forward is difficult to overstate.