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April 14, 2006
Zarqawi Retreating?

General John Vines, the commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps, told a policy conference that al-Qaeda terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has conceded defeat in Iraq and has begun pulling out, thwarted in his attempt to bring down the elected Iraqi government by his own heavy-handed tactics. Vines told the group assembled at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy that the bloodthirsty and indiscriminate tactics and targeting of AQ's terror network in Iraq has galvanized Iraqi opinion against Islamofascism and has isolated the foreign network under Zarqawi's command:

Al Qaeda in Iraq and its presumed leader, Abu Musab Zarqawi, have conceded strategic defeat and are on their way out of the country, a top U.S. military official contended yesterday.

The group's failure to disrupt national elections and a constitutional referendum last year "was a tactical admission by Zarqawi that their strategy had failed," said Lt. Gen. John R. Vines, who commands the XVIII Airborne Corps.

"They no longer view Iraq as fertile ground to establish a caliphate and as a place to conduct international terrorism," he said in an address at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. ...

Gen. Vines said the foreign terrorists had made a strategic mistake when they tried to intimidate and deny Iraqis a way to vote.

"I believe Zarqawi discredited himself with the Iraqi people because of his willingness to slaughter Iraqi people," he said.

This would be great news if we see it confirmed in the next few weeks. Zarqawi and his minions bet the house on either intimidating the Iraqis into rejecting the elections or provoking the country into a three-sector civil war between the Shi'a, Sunni, and Kurds. Neither occurred, although the country has seen plenty of sectarian street-fighting and tensions remain high. The seating of the permanent National Assembly marks a clear demarcation of history in the region, when an Arabic country embraced multi-party democracy and rejected the rule of the bullet or the strongman -- and they did it while lunatics like Zarqawi and his foreigners killed Iraqis by the dozen and score.

We have already seen some evidence of this climbdown. Deaths of American troops in Iraq have dropped considerably over the past months. Deaths for civilians, however, have risen. Whether that relates to AQ or to the sectarian conflicts between the militias cannot easily be seen. However, General Vines has been on the ground in that theater and has a vital perspective, in which he obviously believes progress has been made and that AQ in particular has decided that further effort in Iraq is no longer worth the risk.

If true, it will demonstrate that the US has the will and the strength to face down terrorists. We will have gone some distance in reversing the damage done in retreats from Somalia, Beirut, and Teheran over the past three decades as well as our unwillingness to engage terrorists after attacks on the World Trade Center in 1993, the Khobar Towers blast, the demolition of our embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, and the USS Cole. We should all hope that General Vines' analysis proves correct in the coming weeks.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 14, 2006 5:30 PM

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» Zarqawi, al Qaeda Admit Defeat from Hyscience
At least according to Lt. Gen. John R. Vines, who commands the XVIII Airborne Corps and Rafid Ibrahim Fattah, a liason to terrorist networks: "They no longer view Iraq as fertile ground to establish a caliphate and as a place to conduct international t... [Read More]

Tracked on April 15, 2006 8:47 AM


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