Sunday, February 22, 2009

Defeated is Not Destroyed

While we have basically defeated al Qaeda in Iraq, that does not mean that the enemy is wiped out. We are helping the Iraqis in the north:

U.S. and Iraqi forces have begun a new military offensive in northern Iraq aimed at rooting out al-Qaida and other Sunni insurgents, American and Iraqi officials said Sunday.

The offensive — dubbed Operation New Hope — has netted 84 suspects in the provincial capital of Mosul and surrounding towns, said Iraqi Brig. Gen. Saeed Ahmed al-Jubouri. Most of the arrests occurred in Tal Abta, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) west of Mosul.

Claims by Sunni Arabs and Kurds over disputed territory in the northern Ninevah province have fueled significant violence in the area around Mosul, which U.S. officials have called Iraq's last major urban battleground in the war against insurgents.

The Iraqi government boasted they'd wreck the remnants of al Qaeda in the Mosul region in 6 months--well over a year ago.

I'm not sure if al Qaeda is tougher, if Syria is still filtering jihadis into Iraq to prop the terrorists up, or if the Iraqis just aren't up to the task yet. The more complicated ethnic divisions up there do make it more difficult to get help against all terrrorists.

It may be that the Iraqis are making slow progress, of course. But the war is going on and it is important to support the Iraqis in eradicating al Qaeda in Iraq. Remnants could form the core of a regenerated terror campaign at some point in the future.

Which is just one reason I'd be more cautious in drawing down our combat forces in Iraq.