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

New York

How to smooth the transition in Iraq

Written by John Nagl and Adam Scher for the Christian Sciency Monitor.

Mahmoudiya, a town south of Baghdad, was part of the area long known as the "Triangle of Death" because of the extraordinary number of Sunni insurgent attacks against coalition forces and Iraqi civilians it suffered – often half a dozen daily in 2006. Today, with violence down to only a few ineffective attacks in any given week, it has earned the moniker "Triangle of Love."

The progress there is due in part to the new US strategy. It involved living among the local population to break the hold of the insurgents and now focuses more on partnering and empowering local Iraqi forces than depending on US troops to target and capture enemies.

This switch in Mahmoudiya has spurred economic growth in the area and sheds light on how to manage a drawdown of US forces without sacrificing the hard-won security gains of the past 18 months.

It's clear that the ultimate success of our counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq requires not just a reduction in all types of enemy activity, but also an increase in the capacity of the Iraqi Security Forces and the local governing councils.

This is a great, concise article about our way ahead in Iraq.

While I agree with Mr. Nagl for the most part, the part not talked about is the involvement of Iran in Iraqi internal affairs. It is this involvement that keeps a larger American presence in Iraq now than what would otherwise be needed.

For a full read, click here.

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Iranian arms aid 'visible' in Basra

From the Washington Times. Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at a Pentagon press briefing evidence continues to mount that Iran is continuing to supply arms to insurgents.

"The Iranian government pledged to halt such activities some months ago. It's plainly obvious they have not. Indeed, they seem to have gone the other way," he said. "In these last couple years, you know, that tensions continue to rise, Iran does not respond, and in fact they seem to be ratcheting it up in terms of their support for terrorism."

The admiral said the fighting in Iraq's southern oil hub disclosed that Iran had a significant "level of involvement" in the insurgency.

Not only was Iran caught with their pants down when the Iraqi Army came in and cleared Basra in the last month of Special Group, Mahdi forces, and criminal, but they also discovered the great extent of Iranian arms support in the south. General Petraeus is due to give testimony to Congress soon showing the level of Iranian support for the insurgency in Iraq. While Adm Mullen stated,

"The solution right now still lies in using other levers of national power, including diplomatic, financial and international pressure (against Iran)," Mullen said.

Still, while Mullen acknowledged that launching a third conflict in that region would be extremely stressful for US forces, he said he has reserve capabilities in the Navy and the Air Force for any needed military action.

"It would be a mistake to think that we are out of combat capability," he said.

The US does not seek another war in the Middle East. However, it cannot let Iran continue to prop up the insurgency in Iraq. An insurgency needs an unassailable base, which is now completely taken away from both Al Qaeda and Special Groups. In addition, to persist, it needs external support. Iran, clearly, continues to provide this support.

Adm Mullen is doing the right thing. Gen Petraeus will clearly lay out support for insurgents in Iraq in upcoming testimony showing they are still delivering arms. Adm Mullen is also clearing showing his hand saying that while ground forces are committed, he has a whole Air Force and Navy which is not.

Hopefully, PM Maliki's push into southern Iraq to include the final phases of clearing Basra, the embarrassment suffered by the Iranian government in the south not only in terms of exposing their continued support of arms, but also their collapse when confronted by Iraqi Army forces, and finally Adm Mullen stating we still have a lot of reserve combat power will get Iran to pull support for the insurgency in Iraq. If not, with sanctions, ground military action in southern Iraq, this information campaign, and diplomatic pressue all failing, we may have only one solution, an aerial campaign against Iran.

The future at this point is up to Iran.

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Abu Ayyub al-Masri Dead?

Reuters at Yahoo reports that Abu Ayyub al-Masri, leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq has been killed. While yet unconfirmed, what is more interesting is who may have apparently killed him.

The leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, was killed on Tuesday in an internal fight between insurgents north of Baghdad, the Interior Ministry spokesman said.

As I have stated before, Sunnis are no longer passively or actively supporting Al Qaeda. In fact, they are actively seeking out Al Qaeda and it members for destruction.

An insurgency cannot persist without the popular or passive support of the populous. With several tribes in Anbar and Diyala now going against Al Qaeda, its ability to continue insurgent operations is diminishing rapidly. Whether or not al-Masri is dead or alive, the fact is the insurgency being broken by the populous.

The surge in Baghdad by coalition and Iraqi forces has pushed Al Qaeda out of Baghdad, where the city provided them both anonymity and the ability to stage spectacular attacks for propaganda value. Both of these are now lost by Al Qaeda as Baghdad remains relatively peaceful.

The once safe haven of Anbar is no longer safe as the Anbar Salvation Council is actively pursuing Al Qaeda in Iraq. Now Diyala, with the Sunni Triangle, is also not safe for Al Qaeda.

While Congress attempts to ensure US defeat in Iraq, the populous, the young Iraqi government, and Iraqi forces are beginning to show unanimity, courage, and valor. It took the US to capture Saddam and kill Al Zarqawi. It has taken Iraqi Forces to secure Baghdad. But the people may have killed Al Masri. And the people will ensure the insurgents destruction.

The beacon of light that is Iraq is shining brighter and brighter everyday. It is beginning to grow and mature. It is beginning to prosper. It is this beacon of light that will bring down Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and the other dictatorships in the region. This very fact is why Al Qaeda has made Iraq its central front in the Long War.

Far from being a lost war as Senator Reid would have us believe, Operation Iraqi Freedom is beginning to be another successful operation in the Long War. Every place that Al Qaeda tries to conquer, ends in the same way. The populous starts out afraid, providing passive support. Slowly, with US assistance, the populous begins to unite. Al Qaeda begins to alienate the populous as it enacts it harsh Sharia law, stifling individual freedoms and the pursuit of happiness. It is at this point that the populous unites to drive out Al Qaeda. This point has now been reached in Iraq.

Iran has lost as it will no longer be able to extend it reach to the Mediterranean. Al Qaeda has lost as it will no longer be able to establish a Caliphate in birthplace of civilization. Saudi Arabia has lost as its best hope to spread Wahhabism, namely Al Qaeda. As the new democracy in Iraq takes hold and begins to flourish, the red crescent continues to wane.

This fact is why many nations in the Middle East did not and do not support US involvement in Iraq. As Iraq becomes economically stronger, it will become bolder, and its democracy will become brighter. One year from now, Iraq will be relatively peaceful. It will be interesting to see how the defeatist Democrats swallow that pill in a presidental election year. Ten years from now, Iraq will be the economic powerhouse in the Middle East. It will also be interesting to see how surrounding Middle East nations swallow that pill.

Iraqis have a long and deep history. Iraq was the cradle of civilization and will become the major player in the Middle East within the decade. The democracy of Iraq will forever change this region of the globe.

I can only say, Thank You, President Bush. Thank You Mr. President for having the boldness and foresight to understand we cannot let tyrannies persist in the Middle East. Thank You for freeing 25 million Iraqis. Thank You for freeing the Middle East. What Ronald Reagan did for Eastern Europe, George Bush is doing for the Middle East. While President Bush is in no way as charismatic as Ronald Reagan was, his accomplishments will also ring true because once people get a taste of democracy they do not look back.

All this good news while the Senate Majority Leader is running around like Chicken Little saying the sky is falling in Iraq. All this while the Speaker of the House refuses to meet the General that is making this freedom happen. Some are born great. Others are just born. I, for one, would rather be on the side of greatness, on the side of democracy, on the side of freedom. For all those who say America is on the wane as the greatest generation that fought for our freedoms in WWII pass on, they forget that the Millenial generation is here to takes its place.

In April of 2003 when I was in Iraq, a good friend told me that we were at a pivotal point of history, as significant as the height of the Roman Empire. I told him that the height of the Roman Empire marked the decline of the Roman Empire. Earl, I just have to say that once again you have shown me the light. As I assist in training the Millenial generation, I am amazed at how modest and straight forward this new generation is. They want to do better than their grandfathers. They believe in democracy. They believe in freedom. They believe in America and what it stands for. They believe so much that they are putting their lives on the line and answering the call. They understand what our founding fathers knew and what the greatest generation understood, freedom is not free.

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