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The top-ranking Marine in Iraq tells the New York Times that the insurgency has tailed off to its lowest level in months, evidence that the Ba'athist remnants and the foreign jihadists have lost the momentum and any popular support they might have had:
The top Marine officer in Iraq said Friday that the number of attacks against American troops in Sunni-dominated western Iraq and death tolls had dropped sharply over the last four months, a development that he called evidence that the insurgency was weakening in one of the most violent areas of the country.
The officer, Lt. Gen. John F. Sattler, head of the First Marine Expeditionary Force, said that insurgents were averaging about 10 attacks a day, and that fewer than two of those attacks killed or wounded American forces or damaged equipment. That compared with 25 attacks a day, five of them with casualties or damage, in the weeks leading up to the pivotal battle of Falluja in November, he said. ...
He said that several hundred hard-core jihadists and former members of Saddam Hussein's government and security services were still operating in Anbar Province, but that the declining frequency of the attacks indicated that the rebels' influence was waning.
"They're way down on their attempts, and even more on their effectiveness," General Sattler said.
Sattler and other American military brass still say that they have plenty of work to do to bring an end to the terrorist activity in Iraq. However, the fact that the New York Times even printed this shows the clear progress that has been made against Zarqawi and the former Saddam loyalists that want to impose their tyranny over Iraq again.
Part of that success comes from re-establishing Iraqi civilian authority in Fallujah, which has started coming back from ghost-town status. Prior to the American reduction of the terrorist stronghold in November, the entire town was under the thumb of Zarqawi's minions, and reportedly Zarqawi himself, although he bugged out when the Americans showed up. Now a force of 5,000 trained Iraqi police and troops patrol Fallujah, Ramadi, and outlying areas, encouraging those who fled the fighting to return. About 90,000 have done so, around a third of those who lived there before November.
The increasing control by Iraqis of Iraq has changed the tenor of both the terrorist campaign and the regard with which Iraqis hold for it. In the beginning, the romanticism of insurgents allowing Iraqis -- any Iraqis -- to take control of Iraq attracted some support. However, as the US has stood fast to its commitments for sovereignty and elections and the rebuilding of domestic security forces, the Iraqis have seen the distinction between home-grown tyrannists and liberation. The terrorists then had to switch tactics to kill Iraqis, which confirmed their status in the eyes of Iraqis.
Democratization, as we have seen, provides the only long-term solution to terrorism. When given a choice, people want freedom, not tyrannies. Even the New York Times appears to be learning this lesson ... slowly. (I do note, however, that this hardly leads their International section.)Sphere It View blog reactions
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