Just as the Democrats have raised the white flag on Iraq, the New York Times reports that the surge strategy has started paying off in Anbar. Shops have reopened, people have moved back, and everyone’s challenging the insurgents except Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi (via Memeorandum):
Anbar Province, long the lawless heartland of the tenacious Sunni Arab resistance, is undergoing a surprising transformation. Violence is ebbing in many areas, shops and schools are reopening, police forces are growing and the insurgency appears to be in retreat.
“Many people are challenging the insurgents,” said the governor of Anbar, Maamoon S. Rahid, though he quickly added, “We know we haven’t eliminated the threat 100 percent.”
Many Sunni tribal leaders, once openly hostile to the American presence, have formed a united front with American and Iraqi government forces against Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. With the tribal leaders’ encouragement, thousands of local residents have joined the police force. About 10,000 police officers are now in Anbar, up from several thousand a year ago. During the same period, the police force here in Ramadi, the provincial capital, has grown from fewer than 200 to about 4,500, American military officials say.
At the same time, American and Iraqi forces have been conducting sweeps of insurgent strongholds, particularly in and around Ramadi, leaving behind a network of police stations and military garrisons, a strategy that is also being used in Baghdad, Iraq’s capital, as part of its new security plan.
Life has not yet returned to normal, nor even close to it. Infrastructure still has yet to be rebuilt, and the loyalty of America’s new allies still remains uncertain. What does appear certain is that this former stronghold of Ba’athist resentment no longer wants to exist in a cycle of oppression, liberation, and destruction. They want to end the fighting by eliminating the insurgents.
The question will be whether they stick with that in the face of an imminent American withdrawal. It has taken four years for Anbar to understand that Sunni domination in Iraq has ended and will not return, neither in the guise of Saddam Hussein nor in a military junta ruled by Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, the chief Ba’athist dead-ender. Now that they have finally pulled together with the US to oppose the increasingly lunatic al-Qaeda terrorists, we have lost the will to fight the insurgents ourselves — or at least Congress has.
Government buildings and hotels are being rebuilt in Ramadi. Even the New York Times reports that violence has swiftly fallen in the region. Last summer, Ramadi had 25 terrorist attacks a day, and now it has dropped to four — still too many, but with the expanded police force holding territory for the first time since the liberation, the momentum has clearly shifted. American troops have turned to civil-affairs work, trying to kick-start the rebuilding effort that will secure some semblance of peace among the Sunnis.
The growing security forces rely on the Americans to assist them in getting the terrorists that everyone wants driven out of Iraq. Without us, they would have to sue for terms with the AQI lunatics that would have them divided and fighting amongst themselves. If we leave now, we will destroy all of the work we have done to reach this point — when even the Times acknowledges that we have finally begun to set the stage for success in Anbar and elsewhere in Iraq.