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||The Surge is Working!
Richard S. Lowry [author] 8/7/07
Yesterday, I received a press release from Baghdad. It told a story unlike any I have read. It told a story you will not hear on the evening news. It told a story of eighty Iraqi civilians who acted to take their neighborhood mosque back from terrorist elements. Six months ago, these people were living in fear. But, today with an increased Coalition presence in their community, the people of the Maghrib neighborhood on the east side of Baghdad went after the thugs who had been controlling their lives for so long.
It all started on Sunday afternoon, August 5th, when word spread that the terrorists living in the Abu Hanifa Mosque had murdered two relatives of a prominent local sheikh. Before the American and Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police’s continued presence, these murderers would have successfully intimidated the people into silence and cooperation. But on Sunday, with an increased confidence that Iraqi and American forces would support them, a crowd of eighty angry citizens stormed the Mosque to oust the terrorists from their local house of worship.
The Iraqi Army moved in quickly to restore order. They arrested a large group at the mosque who had been subdued by the angry civilians. The Iraqi Army cordoned off the mosque and secured the nearby area. Once order was restored, the soldiers hauled thirteen terrorists away. Now that the people had regained control of their house of worship, they began snooping around. By 7 PM, they had called for the Iraqi Army to come back. They had found a massive weapons cache in the courtyard of the mosque, containing several assembled IEDs, dynamite, mortars, rockets, landmines and bomb-making material. The Iraqi Army returned, this time with help from the 82nd Airborne’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, and by midnight, the local citizens had provided so many tips that the ground commander conducted a cordon and search operation of the entire area surrounding the mosque.
Iraqi soldiers entered and cleared the Mosque, finding three suspects hiding in the shadows. Once cleared, the coalition forces withdrew but they were called back by the inhabitants, almost immediately. Twenty-six insurgents had returned to the mosque. So, for the third time in less than 12 hours, the Iraqi Army and American troops headed for the Abu Hanifa Mosque. As before, the Iraqi forces entered the mosque. They arrested the twenty-six suspects and searched the grounds again, finding two more weapons caches in the mosque’s cemetery.
3-7th Cavalry’s commander, LTC Jeff Broadwater, said afterward, “I think this was a turning point.” The people of Maghrib have taken back their neighborhood and General Petraeus’ men, the Iraqi Army and the Iraqi Police will continue to assist these brave people in keeping their neighborhood free from violence.
Stories like this are coming out of Iraq daily. Sunni and Shia leaders in Diyala are working together to rid their province of al-Qaeda. Local Sheikhs are offering up the sons of Anbar to serve in the Iraqi Army and local police. Citizens in Babil Province are lining up in record numbers to volunteer for the local police force. Job fairs are being held in Baghdad and the Iraqi people are celebrating their victory of the Asia Cup tournament.
Assuredly, there is still violence in Iraq. Our job is far from complete. But, we are approaching a tipping point. The Iraqi Army is becoming more capable each day. The Iraqi people are starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel and American casualties are starting to decrease. Harry Reid, the War in Iraq in not lost.
I can’t wait to hear what General Petraeus has to say next month. CRO
2007 Richard S. Lowry