Austin Bay at FrontPage Magazine pens a thoughtful analysis with his "al Qaeda's Emerging Defeat".It differs from other media analysis with attention to the incremental advances, resulting from military progress from The Surge, in political and cultural sectors. This is important as the anti-war pols, when speaking of their terse negativity towards the Surge and it's potential, attach their all important "buts" to save their political butts.
Meaning, of course, it will be the ol' "the Surge is working, "but" there is no political reconciliation. So this war is still lost" rhetoric. One prime example of that parsing of words is, of course, John Murtha and his verbal retreat from his prior rhetoric.
Austin Bay, however, counters that theory with pointed successes in the reconciliation arena.
Resolution 1546 was officially passed on June 8, 2004. If you're a wire-service editor, eight months is an eon — but if you're trying to politically reinvent Mesopotamia, it's a millisecond. The January 2005 Iraqi election succeeded, giving terrorists and tyrants a disturbing "purple finger" — the very public ink stains marking the fingers of Iraqi voters.
That election was an incremental success, but one of many. This week's publicized call for a more "normalized" U.S.-Iraq relationship is another indication that the incremental successes are accumulating. Every increment can become a decrement, but war is a dynamic process — and from a historical perspective the dynamic direction in Iraq has favored the United States — in other words, the big trend suggests an emerging success.
This emerging success required lots of money and unfortunately involved lots of blood. I had another document on my Baghdad desk, Abu Musab Zarqawi's February 2004 letter to al Qaeda's leaders, in which he lamented al Qaeda's looming defeat.
He also described his counterstrategy: a Shia-Sunni sectarian war. That's war's hideous dynamic, effort met by effort — with death, pain and suffering in each terrible collision. Zarqawi's murderers did their best to incite a sectarian debacle. Oh, they got headlines, they enlisted a motley array of criminal allies, they set Iraq's democratic timetable back 12 to 24 months — but they failed.
The evidence that al Qaeda has suffered a major strategic information defeat in Iraq continues to mount. StrategyPage.com noted on Oct. 27, 2005, that "the Moslem media is less and less willing to be an apologist for al Qaeda, at least when it comes to killing Moslem civilians" and that the Iraqi media in particular "really has it in for al Qaeda." On Oct. 1, 2006, StrategyPage.com argued that "dead Iraqis were killing al Qaeda. ... Westerners, unless they observe Arab media closely, and have contacts inside the Arab world, will not have noted this sharp drop in al Qaeda's fortunes."
Within the last three months, the "trend" (made of incremental successes) has become "fact."
Bay's worthy-of-a-full-read article also goes on, touching on what many consider a taboo subject. That would be future Iraq/US relations and commitments.
The postwar relationship between Iraq and the United States is now a broader public topic. This week, the White House and the Iraqi government announced that state-to-state discussions are taking place with the goal of reaching detailed agreements that will govern Iraq and America's long-term political, economic and military ties. Iraqis have asked for "an enduring relationship with America."
As for the "security line of operation" (military), the U.S.-Iraqi "postwar relationships" discussion indicates both are preparing for "strategic overwatch," where U.S. "quick reaction" forces are positioned to help Iraq deter external (e.g., Iranian) threats. Strategic overwatch may be a couple of years away, say mid-to-late 2009. Achieving that would constitute a limited victory.
While pundits and pols alike have labeled the Iraq liberation as a poorly executed mistake in strategy in the battle against the Global Islamic Jihad Movement, history is inclined to demonstrate exactly the opposite - if Iraq proves to be successful in it's quest as a free, sovereign democracy that is an ally in counter terrorism intel.
Fact is, Iraq - formerly off bounds to US military - is a perfect staging complement if necessary to deal militarily with Iran and Syria. We will have reserved a parking space for ourselves smack dab in the middle of the two. And it is this fact that has the two so aggressively defensive now.
But AQ and it's long list of associated cohorts in the Global Islamic Jihad Movement have suffered more defeats than just military. This war was never going to be won sheerly by hi-tech weaponry and valiant warriors - coalition and Iraqi. Indeed, the progress made by the terrorists in Iraq was made possible by a media war of ideals. And Bill Roggios of The LongWarJournal points out the strategic conquests of the terrorist media arm.
Multinational Forces Iraq began to heavily target al Qaeda's media apparatus over the summer of 2007. The capture of Khalid Abdul Fatah Da’ud Mahmud al Mashadani, a senior al Qaeda in Iraq and Islamic State of Iraq leader and close associate of al Qaeda commander Abu Ayyub al Masri, was the first major blow against al Qaeda's media network. Mashadani, also known as Abu Shahed, was al Qaeda's media emir. He confirmed that Abu Omar al Baghdadi, the purported leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, is an imaginary figure created by himself and al Masri.
After Mashadani's capture, the Coalition began rolling up numerous al Qaeda media cells and operatives of al Furqan. "Since the surge began, we’ve uncovered eight separate al Qaeda media offices and cells, have captured or killed 24 al Qaeda propaganda cell members and have discovered 23 terabytes of information," said Rear Admiral Gregory Smith, the chief Public Affairs Officer for Multinational Forces Iraq during a press briefing at the end of October.
Since that briefing, several more cells have been dismantled and scores of al Qaeda media operatives have been killed or captured. During the month of November, Special Forces teams killed two media operatives and captured 44 suspected associates of the cells.
Al Qaeda in Iraq has suffered serious setbacks in Iraq over the past year, and its media operations has not faired well under the Iraqi and Coalition onslaught. As noted at Threatswatch, al Qaeda in Iraq's media wing is desperate to produce propaganda for multiple reasons. The terror group needs to demonstrate to its financial backers, supporters, fellow jihadis, the Iraqi people, and the wider world that it is capable of conducting meaningful operations. This is vital for fundraising, for the morale of its forces, and to demoralize the West and the Iraqi people.
Just as our military needs the emotional and financial support from US citizens (and pols...), terrorists are also dependent upon putting forth a happy face for their abominable efforts. And they attempt to resurrect their propaganda machine as quickly as the good guys dismantle it.