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||Finally, Good News From Iraq
Richard S. Lowry [author] 6/22/07
Nearly every day we hear of another horrific explosion in Iraq and watch the horrible aftermath on our televisions. On June 13th we heard that the revered Golden Mosque in Samara had been bombed, again. It was only a little over a year ago that the Askari Mosque was destroyed on February 22, 2006 by Al Qaeda bombers. The two remaining minarets were destroyed in the second attack. Al-Askari is now all but rubble. But this latest attack has provided Americans with an unintended insight.
For those of us who are carefully monitoring the events in Iraq on a daily basis, the Iraqi reaction in the aftermath of this second bombing has provided the first tangible indication that the surge is working.
The original bombing in 2006 ignited sectarian violence that almost ripped the country apart. General Casey’s plan to turn control over to the Iraqi military was derailed. The fledgling government teetered on the brink as Iraq slipped into a bloody civil war. A million Iraqis fled their homes to get away from the daily bombings, killings, and kidnappings on the streets of Baghdad. Each new day, the rising sun would reveal hundreds of victims’ decaying bodies scattered in the war-torn streets throughout the city.
Last week, however, Iraqi government officials, both Sunni and Shiia alike, stood together to condemn the recent bombing. The Iraqi Army and National Police quickly moved in to Samara to keep the peace. Iraqi civilians in every major Shiia community from Basra to Nasiriyah to Karbala to Sadr City took to the streets in peaceful protest. The aftermath of last week’s bombing has been much different than the near anarchy after the first bombing. Thus far, there have been no mass retributions. The Iraqi people, and their government are facing this crime in a civil manner.
Many pundits on the Internet are commenting that the latest Samara Mosque bombing is some kind of indication that General Petraeus’ plan has failed. I have been watching the news and I see it much differently. As I see it, the Iraqi government and the Iraqi people have made great strides forward since the first bombing of the Golden Mosque. Every day, we hear of a few insurgents detained or of another brave American falling to an IED attack or ambush. Yet, it takes months to realize that a foundation is being laid for a free and peaceful Iraq.
Take a moment to look at the forest and not at the individual trees. When you step back from the competitive sensationalism of the 24-hour news media machines, you will be able to see the larger picture. The ‘Surge” is really just getting started. Only within the last couple of weeks have all of the Surge forces arrived in and around Baghdad. Already, there is a discernable improvement over the chaos and killing in Baghdad at the beginning of this year.
We still have a long way to go. There are still neighborhoods in Baghdad that are virtual no-man’s-lands. It is still not a certainty that General Petraeus will be successful, but the situation is getting better. It is my personal belief that the security situation will continue to improve within the city and in the “Baghdad Belts” to the north and south of the city. I believe that by mid-August we, here at home, will notice a dramatic decrease in American and Coalition causalities. As the security improves, watch for the economic surge. The Iraqi government has set aside $30 Billion of its own money to revitalize Baghdad. It is the economic recovery that will really turn the tide in Iraq. The economic surge will be very boring, probably not worthy of precious moments on the TV nightly news. So, in the weeks and months to come, remember as you sit down to watch the television news – no news is good news! CRO
2007 Richard S. Lowry