We haven’t said much about how the surge in Baghdad is faring. That’s because it’s early days, and we’re not really in a position to assess the surge. However, things may have proceeded far enough to provide at least a sense of how our adversaries are reacting.
The sense is that the Sunni insurgents (or at least elements thereof) are choosing to stay and fight, while the Shia militias are mostly biding their time. This was proabably to be expected. The Sunni killers are the more desperate of our two adversaries. Moreover, to the extent that the Shia militias melt away, the role of the Sunni insurgents becomes increasingly problematic even within the Sunni community because they no longer can claim to be providing protecting against said militias. If the insurgents leave, it’s unclear that they can return. If they stay but don’t fight, they probably will be hunted down with increasing efficiency as their support erodes. Thus, their best option is probably to stay, blow things up, and hope that the Democrats can find a way promptly to abort our effort.
On the whole it’s probably good news if, in fact, our Shia enemies have withdrawn and our Sunni enemies are taking us on. For one thing, it means that, contrary to the constant defeatist refrain of the Democrats, we’re not in the middle of a civil war right now. Instead, we’re fighting our original enemy in Iraq, the die-hard Baathist element, although it’s not clear to what extent our primary enemy, the al Qaeda element, has remained in Baghdad.
But the present state of affairs has its downside too. It means we have one enemy in the field inflicting death and destruction that, at a minimum, will help foster the perception that the surge is not succeeding. At the same time, it also means that even if the surge succeeds in dealing with the Sunni insurgents, the Shia militias, some of which are tied to Iran, have yet to be dealt with.
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