"Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid" - Ronald Reagan

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Al Qaeda's 2008 Outlook - Iran's Future

From Yahoo/AP.

This Yahoo article has a good roll up of recent battlefield activities in Iraq and while at the end of the article, it sums up Operation Phantom Pheonix with the following.

He [Rear Adm. Gregory Smith] said 121 militants were killed, including 92 so-called "high-value targets" and 1,023 detained since the most recent operation against them began on Jan. 8.

Since 08 January 2008, when Operation Phantom Pheonix began, 121 militants were killed, 92 of which were high-value targets (HVTs - which means they were cell leaders, financiers, recruiters, organizers, and/or operators), and 1,023 were detained. The significance of these numbers must be viewed with another number. McClatchy Newspapers also reports today via Kansas City Star on the number of foreign fighters entering Iraq.

[Rear Adm. Gregory] Smith also said that most foreign insurgents in Iraq come from Saudi Arabia, which President Bush visited on his trip. Other foreign fighters have come from Libya, Yemen, Syria, and even a few from France, Smith said.

In the last year, improved border enforcement by Syria and increased profiling by Saudi officials of single men traveling to Iraq have helped cut the number of foreign fighters entering Iraq in half, Smith said. Between 40 and 50 a month are thought to be entering Iraq now, he said.

Between 50 and 60 percent of those become suicide bombers, and 90 percent of the suicide bombers are thought to be foreigners. (ephasis added)

So, in 13 days (since Operation Phantom Pheonix began), 1144 insurgents have been killed or detained. In this same time, insurgents have received approximately 22 replacements (given 50 enter Iraq monthly). These numbers are hardly a winning strategy and show how desparate the situation for Al Qaeda in Iraq has become. While this just shows what has happened during the last 13 days, The Surge has produced similar numbers for the seven months it has fully been in effect.

In addition and much more significant, 92 HVTs were killed in the past 13 days. Ninety-two leaders, with specific leadership knowledge, skills and abilities, will no longer be able to hand down their expertise to incoming recruits. This sobering fact is clearly demonstrated in the two recently failed suicide attacks in Anbar. Four suicide bombers were not able to kill corresponding Awakening leaders in Anbar. What we see is Coaliton and Awakening leadership exponentially developing while at the same time Al Qaeda leadership exponentially being eliminated, in some case permanently.

In addition, several other leaders who were detained (although precise numbers are not given in these articles) are now giving up Al Qaeda's secrets to Coalition forces which will lead to further reduction in Al Qaeda in Iraq's overall numbers and leaders in particular.

The Yahoo/AP article also notes the following.

[Rear Adm. Gregory] Smith, the U.S. military spokesman, said the military had al-Qaida on the run with recent operations. But he warned the group remains a force in eastern Anbar, northeast of Baghdad in Diyala province, in areas surrounding the northern city of Kirkuk, "in small numbers to the south of Baghdad" and in the northern city of Mosul.

"Mosul will continue to be a center of influence for, a center of gravity for al-Qaida because of its key network of facilitation — both financing and foreign fighters," he said.

A few things are significant about this statement. The first is the region which is not listed, namely Baghdad. In fact, a recent USA Today article cited that 75% of Baghdad is secured compared to 8% in the same month last year. The USA Today article also states,

The 310 neighborhoods in the "control" category are secure, but depend on U.S. and Iraqi military forces to maintain the peace. The 46 areas in the "retain" category have reached a level where Iraqi police and security forces can maintain order, a more permanent fix. The remaining areas have fewer security forces based there, though they are not necessarily violent. (emphasis added)

Therefore, in Baghdad, the center of gravity in this war, 75% of the neighborhoods have seen enemy activity mostly eliminated and normal economic activity resuming. The other 25% of the neighborhoods are "not necessarily violent", but neither are they secured by Coalition forces.

Despite a recent killing of a US Marine in Anbar (which has not occurred since 08 October 2007) and the two recent failed suicide attacks, Anbar is also secure, enemy activity has been mostly elminated and normal economic activity is resuming. Finally, the entire southern part of Iraq and the northern Kurdish part of Iraq continue to be secure.

The US Military now has two divisions (the 1st Armored Division and the 3rd Infantry Division respectively) along with several Iraqi Divisions focusing on securing north of Baghdad to Kirkuk and Mosul (focused in the Sunni Triangle region) and south immediately south of Baghdad (focused in the Triangle of Death region).

The success of The Surge overall and Operation Phantom Pheonix lately can be found thoughout this blog.

  • 1144 insurgents killed or detained in the past 13 days
  • Insurgent replacements of approximately 22 in the past 13 days
  • 92 leaders killed in the past 13 days
  • An unspecified number of leaders detained in the past 13 days
  • 50% reduction in foreign insurgents entering Iraq
  • 75% of Baghdad secured
  • 25% of rest of Baghdad not necessarily violent
  • 100% of Anbar secured
  • 100% of Kurdish north secured
  • 100% of Shiite south secured
Finally, the three most important items of all:

1. Al Qaeda is clearly losing wholesale in Iraq, which Bin Laden himself called the central front in his war against the west. Like Hitler losing Paris or failing to defeat Great Britain, Bin Laden has lost Iraq. Even though Al Qaeda, like Nazi Germany, may be able to surge, the facts speak for themselves. It is now just a matter of time until the complete destruction of Al Qaeda in Iraq.

2. Al Qaeda has been unable to defeat the democratic government in Afghanistan. In fact, approximately 4500 Taliban have been killed in 2007 alone. The number of wounded is probably twice this number. Again, like Nazi Germany against Russia, this endeavor has just wasted precious resources for absolutely no gain militarily.

3. Due to his significant losses in Iraq and no appreciable gain in Afghanistan, Bin Laden has been forced to turn inward to Pakistan, once a safe haven for Al Qaeda. To wage the fight in Pakistan, Musharraf has repositioned 100,000 Regular Army troop from Kashmir to the FATA and NWFP regions in addition to the tens of thousand Frontier Corps already in the region. While shaping operations are already underway, decisive operations will begin shortly after the 18 February parlimentary elections.

Just like Hitler, holed up in an underground bunker in Berlin in the final days of the war, knowing that the 1000 year reign of the Third Reich had come to an abrupt, permature end, Bin Laden also sees his grand plan to establish a caliphate from Spain to China crumble as Coalition forces ever so slowly close in on him.

For all its outrageous and boisterous rhetoric, Iran is not unlike Japan in WWII. Coalition forces have island hopped to surround the theocratic leader of Iran in the Persian Gulf, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and shortly in Pakistan. While not part of the coalition in this war, Turkey is a member of NATO and is pressuring Iran from the north, similar to China's and Russia's pressure on Japan in WWII.

For Iran's sake, it may want to surrender or it may see some of its major cities completely obliterated.

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