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June 15, 2006
Report Card Adds Up To A Turning Point

Once dominoes start to fall, it becomes increasingly difficult to stop their momentum. The terrorists who pledged allegiance to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi until he attained room temperature have discovered this, much to their dismay. CENTCOM spokesman General William Caldwell gives us the scorecard on the Zarqawi mission, and it looks like a rout:

American and Iraqi forces have carried out 452 raids since last week's killing of terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and 104 insurgents were killed during those actions, the U.S. military said Thursday.

Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, said the raids were carried out nationwide and led to the discovery of 28 significant arms caches.

He said 255 of the raids were joint operations, while 143 were carried out by Iraqi forces alone. The raids also resulted in the captures of 759 "anti-Iraqi elements."

That result should impress even the deepest cynics. 452 raids killed 104 terrorists and captured almost 800 more insurgents. The intelligence gathered before and during the Zarqawi mission has yielded unbelievably good fruit, and the AQI network has suffered a catastrophic blow, if not a total loss. For those who sniffed at the importance of killing Zarqawi, this shows how little they understand this type of warfare.

Assuming that all 104 dead and 759 captured comprised only AQI elements, we can presume that the foreign insurgency has all but disappeared -- a critical victory not just for the US, but also for the new Iraqi government. The main trigger for sectarian violence came from the Zarqawi network, who alienated many Iraqis by exhorting them to kill Shi'ites in Iraq. Removal of that element in its entirety would mean that part of the momentum towards civil war has been negated, perhaps all of it. For the US, we have beaten al-Qaeda in the field as they hid themselves among the Iraqi civilians, a victory that will have serious repercussions for the credibility of AQ in the future.

Another piece of this news will probably get overlooked. Over a third of the missions were performed by the Iraqis on their own. Caldwell did not specifiy how many kills and captures the Iraqis got, but the show of skill by the much-maligned Iraqi security forces will also bolster the credibility of the new Iraqi government, and their entire demoratic enterprise as well. Many have dismissed this effort as misguided and claim that Muslim Arabs can only function within a strong-man autocracy. As the security forces gain more victories such as this, we should expect to see that argument quietly dropped.

This is a solid turning point for the Iraqis and the Coalition. This shows that insurgencies can get stamped out with enough time and effort, and that should help convince the native dead-enders to fold their tents and accept Maliki's amnesty offer.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 15, 2006 10:08 AM

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» Progress or Naivete? from Ninth State
I know it’s not very cool or post-modern to be optimistic about much of anything these days, but hearing from the troops and citizens in Iraq, I have a hard time feeling that being hopeful about Iraq’s future is wide-eyed naivete. ... [Read More]

Tracked on June 15, 2006 11:26 AM


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