Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Baghdad: A clean sweep, so far

The surge is on, and so far, not much.

The good news: U.S. forces sweeping Baghdad haven't encountered much resistance. The bad news: That's mostly because the sectarian fighters are lying low and waiting for us to leave. The sweep will only work if it is more than a sweep. It must be an actual occupation of ground, one that either flushes the insurgents out of hiding or forces them to remain there. Keep them lying low long enough, and actual security might be established.

So as long as we're planning to stay in the areas of Baghdad we've swept -- and that's the plan; follow the sweep with an occupation by Iraqi forces and the 82nd Airborne -- this doesn't bother me:

Iraq's Sunni vice president, Tariq al-Hashemi, warned that advance publicity on the security operation had given Shiite militias time to flee the city for bases elsewhere in the country.

"I have information that numerous of their leaders are now in Basra and other southern provinces in safe havens," he told Al-Arabiya television. "I believe that those who were behind the bloodshed and the chaos should be pursued and criminals must face justice."

Good. Let them flee. As long as we don't let them come back, we can slowly expand our militia-free zone across the country until they no longer have a place to flee to.

That's how occupation security works. And it's infuriating that it has taken more than three years for us to actually attempt it. But better late than never; if we can sustain this -- and the Iraqi government continues to be a serious partner -- Bush's "surge" will work.

Those are big ifs, especially because sustaining the surge will probably require more troops than we have committed. But for now, hope for the best.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

"BAGHDAD, Iraq - U.S. and Iraqi forces pushed deeper Thursday into Sunni militant strongholds in Baghdad — where cars rigged with explosives greeted their advance — while British-led teams in southern Iraq used shipping containers to block suspected weapon smuggling routes from Iran."

And this----if it's eventually confirmed:

"Early Friday, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry said the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, was wounded and an aide was killed in a clash the previous day with Iraqi forces north of Baghdad."

So, I wouldn't exactly downplay what's going on here. We ARE coming up the bad guys and we ARE having some successes; already. And we just got started.


2/15/2007 5:51 PM  

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