Al Qaeda: Bombing in Baghdad?

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The Captain's Quarter's blog, and other parts of the pro-war blogosphere, are thrilled over this just-translated document on the CENTCOM site, supposedly a high-level Al Qaeda man lamenting their lack of success and small number of men and lack of serious munitions in Iraq. It is being read as proof that the U.S. is winning/has already won in Iraq, insurgency be damned.

They may or may not be right, as Mencken would say to angry correspondents. But a couple of points that came to mind are, 1) the insurgency in Iraq is made up of more than just Al Qaeda–Al Qaeda may indeed be a small percentage of it–and 2) that most of this document is written as if actually taking control of significant parts of Baghdad is the goal that AQ is failing at. Alas for the U.S., the insurgency doesn't have to ever actually capture Baghdad to any real degree to continue to make normal life impossible there or in other parts of Iraq. And if normal life remains impossible to a large degree, the U.S.'s goals have failed as much as have Al Qaeda's.

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  1. What irony level have we achieved if Al Qaeda makes the same mistake we did in Vietnam: assume the opposition is ideological when really they’re ethnic/nationalist.

    Fortunately for them, we’re making all new mistakes in Iraq, plus a few golden oldies for good measure.

  2. So the folks at Captains Quarters think the US will have won the war when we succeed in stabilizing a pro-Iranian Shi’ite government in Iraq. That’s an interesting definition of success. Al Qaeda is losing to the same people who where throwing rocks at a downed British helicopter last week.

  3. “So the folks at Captains Quarters think the US will have won the war when we succeed in stabilizing a pro-Iranian Shi’ite government in Iraq.”

    Look, you don’t win a war with the civil society and cultural capital you want, you win a war with the civil society and cultural capital you’ve got.

  4. Vanya, if you can pull a single quote from CQ that says they want a pro-Iranian government in Iraq, I will be very, very surprised.

  5. RCD, well, that’s what they’re gonna get!

    JMJ

  6. I’ll tell you this: there were a hell of a lot fewer Al Qaeda in Baghdad, with a hell of a lot less equipment, than there were in 2002.

    I’m not sure the Al Qaeda/foreign jihadist cells can accurately be described as part of the insurgency at all, any more than the Weathermen could. An insurgency, by definition, requires the support of the public in the are in which it operates, while “Al Qaeda in Iraq” are more or less waging a war on the public in the area in which they operate.

  7. “Vanya, if you can pull a single quote from CQ that says they want a pro-Iranian government in Iraq, I will be very, very surprised.”

    RC, he of the “objectively pro-Baathist” argument, if you can pull a single quote from, say, me that says I want a Baathist government in Baghdad, I will be very, very surprised.

  8. I’ll tell you this: I really screwed teh pooch (as the kids say on the internets) with that sentence.

    You know what I mean.

  9. I wish there were a Baathist government in Iraq. We’d all be better off.

    JMJ

  10. WTF are you talking about, joe?

    JMJ, I’m sure, is full of links showing that the Iraqi Shi’ites have shed their generations-long hatred of Iranian Shi’ites, and can hardly wait to get in bed with the mullahs. Especially since the Iranians are supporting the ever-so-popular insurgency against the emerging Iraqi (Shi’ite) government.

  11. RCD, the Iranians are doing what?

    JMJ

  12. Well geez, Jersey, we’d be better off with a Stalinist government in Iraq, too. That doesn’t mean it’s what I want.

    “JMJ, I’m sure, is full of links showing that the Iraqi Shi’ites have shed their generations-long hatred of Iranian Shi’ites, and can hardly wait to get in bed with the mullahs.”

    The largest party in Iraq, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, is headed by a Shiite mullah named Sistani who spent years as an honored guest of the Iranian mullahs, who have long supported his party. This incredibly esoteric intelligence was gathered through incredibly risky covert operations and, er, reading Time magazine three years ago.

    “Especially since the Iranians are supporting the ever-so-popular insurgency against the emerging Iraqi (Shi’ite) government.” No, they’re not. They’re supporting Shiite militias who are engaged in a low-level civil against the Sunni insurgents who are fighting the Iraqi government.

  13. True enough, joe – it appears the Iranians have backed off on their earlier support for the AQ-led insurgency and are now playing a subtler game by shifting their anti-government activities to groups with more local support. To imagine that they are not violating Iraqi borders in hopes of destabilizing the government, though, shows a remarkable credulity.

    I think you’ll find that Sistani has little use for the mullahs, as well.

  14. Iran sure is having its way with Iraq.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/09/world/middleeast/09cnd-iraq.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

    BAGHDAD, Iraq, May 9 – Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, Iraq’s prime minister designate, said today that new ministers of defense and interior would be people with no connections to a political bloc or militia, reflecting an agreement that potentially could pave the way for a resolution of the thorniest issues facing him in forming a Cabinet.

    Such a step would shortcircuit any competition for those posts between the two Shiite blocs with large militias, and could reassure Sunni Arabs who have complained that the police and Iraqi army have been infilitrated by milita members with the approval of government officials.”

    And it’s good to hear Al Qaeda in Iraq say:
    “At the same time, the Americans and the Government were able to absorb our painful blows, sustain them, compensate their losses with new replacements, and follow strategic plans which allowed them in the past few years to take control of Baghdad as well as other areas one after the other. That is why every year is worse than the previous year as far as the Mujahidin’s control and influence over Baghdad”

  15. I appreciate that Peter K. …but I’d also appreciate it if the guys likely to make out the best changed their name from The Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.

  16. It’s obviously paranoid of me to suspect that this document and the Zarqawi outtakes video represent a comical misinformation campaign on the part of . . . someone.

    My honest question, though: On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being highest), how paranoid is it.

  17. “the AQ-led insurgency”

    1. The insurgency is not Al-Qaeda led, no matter how much you want it to be so for the sake of this week’s argument. The military and CIA estimate that bin Ladinists make up about 1-5% of the anti-government forces in Iraq, and they have been getting into firefights with the Iraqi insurgents.

    2. The Iranian government never provided aid to Al Qaeda inside or outside of Iraq.

    “To imagine that they are not violating Iraqi borders in hopes of destabilizing the government, though, shows a remarkable credulity.” Either that, or an understanding of the region’s politics. Now that the government is led by one of their allies, it is reasonable to assume that they are no longer working to destabilize it – seeing as how those allies were the level they used in their attempts to destablize the American-imposed government two years ago.

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