Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Al Tet Averted?

When I wrote that signs of an impending enemy collapse in Iraq seem to be accumulating, I did not mean to imply that victory is inevitable. I think we are winning. But we need to persist in fighting and supporting the Iraqis until we actually win. If we don't persist until we win, we will lose.

So did the Iraqis really stop a bold plan to penetrate the Green Zone for the purpose of seizing America's embassy and other Western targets?

A senior Defense Ministry official confirmed the plot, and said the 421 al-Qaida fighters involved were actually recruited to storm the U.S. and British embassies and take hostages. Several ranking Defense Ministry officials have been jailed in the plot, the official said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information.

Interior Minister Bayan Jabr, in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, said the al-Qaida recruits were one bureaucrat's signature away from acceptance into an Iraqi army battalion whose job it is to control the gates and main squares in the Green Zone. The plot was discovered three weeks ago.

"You can imagine what could happen to a minister or an ambassador while passing through these gates when those terrorists are there," Jabr said in the interview conducted at his office in the Green Zone — a 2-square-mile hunk of prime real estate on the west bank of the Tigris River. The area is a maze of concrete blast walls, concertina wire and checkpoints.

In Washington, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said of the scheme: "I've heard about the report. I've not received anything definitive." He noted that initial reports often change.

And as I noted in the post cited above, is the current lull in attacks because the enemy was husbanding strength for a wider attack to exploit the confusion resulting from a Green Zone attack? If so, we may see the enemy forces held back for this start attacking again. And a couple of the signs of a potential looming collapse will disappear. We shall see.

UPDATE: Strategypage says there is chatter of a big attack in Iraq by al Qaeda:

The intelligence people are picking up chatter regarding a major al Qaeda attack in Iraq, coordinating a large number of fighters to pull something off like the Abu Greib operation last year, possible against Parliament or the U.S. Embassy. It doesn't have to succeed, just make a big splash in the media. Overall, al Qaeda attacks are way down, and the terrorist organization is taking a beating. All they can hope for now is some media victories.

With any luck the chatter is about the failure of the Green Zone attack. I hope that is what they planned and now the chatter is figuring out how to salvage something from this. Could we see a hasty attack out of fear of losing compromised assets? If so, we could have a jihadi television operation that fails in its military mission pretty soon.