General Petraeus Admits Defeat
This week General Petraeus gave his first assessment since taking command. His comments confirm that the "great surge" is turning out to be little more than a "great urge," In desperation, he is now turning to some strange bedfellows for satisfaction and asking us to be patient, until he can get his thing up and working. Point by point, quote by quote, it is a miserable litany of failure.
Main points with "reality translation":
"It is too early to discern significant trends, but there have been some encouraging signs"--
Read: We have made no real progress, and what successes we have had are minimal and dubious.
"There is no military solution to a problem like Iraq, to the insurgency of Iraq." -- Read:
We are beaten before we start. The mission is hopeless. The operation is doomed to failure.
(Despite all the ultimatums about never negotiating with terrorists)
"Some militants will have to be engaged in talks" -- Read:
We have to admit we can't beat them. So we have to compromise and bargain with them in the hope to reduce violence and divide them.
"Sensational attacks inevitably continue." -- Read: Nothing we can do will stop the insurgency's ability to strike with impunity.
Apart from demanding more prison officers (the military police) and extra troops to deal with the impossibility of controlling the countryside, his overall message is that he needs time and lots more time. The question is does he have time? As the rapes by Iraqi forces showed and the increasingly obscene atrocities carried out against Shiite civilians continue, the situation is loaded with combustible material and it is only a matter of time until some incident sparks something which spirals right out of the control of the US and shatters all of its plans.
While it is true that sectarian killings have reduced, this may probably have little to do with troop deployment and more to do with the fact that the Mehdi Army, who have temporarily decided to go to ground and wait for the future. In other words, should the Mehdi Army decide to restart sectarian killing at any time, the increased US and Iraqi forces will probably have little influence on stopping or reducing it. Their tactics are considered purely as a sensible temporary tactic of not wasting resources, when the US must eventually withdraw and then the real battle for Baghdad can commence.
The same holds true for the Sunnis, who have altered certain tactics in line with long-term strategy. Perhaps, what is most ironic, is that while the US has been ringing the centre of Baghdad, the Sunnis have flung a ring around the Americans by surrounding Baghdad. Towns and villages to the west, north, east and even the south of the city have now fallen into their hands and Baghdad is now encircled by a ring of insurgency.
Sunnis have, in fact, intensified their attacks. Sunni insurgents now make some 70% of all attacks on US forces. Furthermore, the increased troop numbers has not dampened their audacity. Massive sectarian atrocities continue unabated inside Baghdad with huge casualty figures from suicide and car/truck bomb attacks on markets, universities and the recent 117 pilgrims who died en route from Baghdad to ceremonies in Karbala. The capture and taped execution Iraqi police officers in revenge for the rape of Sunni women was a blatant, menacing boast towards the security forces.
Sunni Insurgents have launched frontal attacks on security posts and in Mosul, the leader of the "Islamic State in Iraq", Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, led 300 insurgents to storm the local jail and free 120 of their comrades taken prisoner there. In Anbar, Al Qaeda is involved in a ruthless campaign against some local tribal leaders and carrying out whole scale slaughter of opposition to their rule. Many towns and areas have been declared Islamic republics, where men are flogged in the streets for un-Islamic behaviour such smoking, drinking or having long hair.
The empty boasts of Prime Minister, Maliki are not just an embarrassment but meaningless, even if they were true. Even if it were credible claims to have captured 400 militants are a drop in the ocean, Serious research institutes and think tanks estimate the number of insurgents to be as high as 200,000 and sometimes more. They are recruiting continuously and as in Palestine, US or Iraqi forces can take out as many high and middle ranking leaders as they please, but there is always a unquenchable well of battle-hardened youth ready to step into their shoes. The US and Iraqi forces are learning that the insurgency is a multi-headed Medusa and the more one cuts off a head or two, then double the number grow back from different angles.