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December 19, 2005
Standing Tall In Tal Afar

The London Telegraph highlights the American success in at least one previous terrorist stronghold in Iraq -- the city of Tal Afar. Americans wouldn't know this from their own media, but the Telegraph reports that Tal Afar has been transformed by the American destruction of the Zarqawi-led terrorists there, through rebuilding and cultural sensitivity that has made the Americans more popular than ever:

In the low-slung concrete buildings of Tal Afar, a city built on dirty sand and mud, George W Bush sees the potential for military success in Iraq. ...

In Tal Afar, according to the president, military success had been followed by the restoration of law and order and the implementation of reconstruction projects to give "hope" to its citizens. Visiting the city, nestled near the Syrian border in the north-west of the country, there is no doubt that something has been achieved.

Unlike in Fallujah, another Sunni Arab insurgent stronghold, the storming of which by US marines was the defining campaign of 2004, there is actually large-scale rebuilding in progress. While many of the citizens of Fallujah still eke out their existence in the ruins of their former homes, in Tal Afar the streets are full of building sites. New sewers have been dug and the fronts of shops, destroyed in the US assault, were replaced within weeks. Sunni police have been hired and 2,000 goats were even distributed to farmers.

More remarkably, the approach of an American military convoy brings people out to wave and even clap, something not seen since the invasion of spring 2003 that toppled Saddam Hussein.

In order to replicate that success across the country, we will need to invest a lot of money and effort into rebuilding the cities and farms that got damaged. The money, so far, has been allocated by Congress, but what has been lacking is security for the rebuilding work. That has slowly changed as well, as the new Iraqi security forces get strong enough to hold territory and keep the peace well enough for construction to start on these projects. Not only will the rebuilding give a sense of optimism to Iraqi residents, but it will also provide jobs and stability during both the construction phase and afterwards when the shops re-open.

Tal Afar shows what can be done when we have all the elements in place. It will serve as an example for American defeatists to learn that Iraqis have hope and confidence in Americans to do the right thing and help get them back on their feet -- and that we have already started to win that war as well.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 19, 2005 5:49 AM

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