Friday, November 11, 2005
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What do you do about Al Qaeda's new base of operations?
In its editorial for today on the topic, the Washington Post points out that this is the latest in a long string of reversals for Al Qaeda in the Middle East:
This doesn't even mention Al Qaeda's unpopularity in North Africa.
Here's the thing, though -- does any of this matter in terms of reducing terrorist activity in the region and across the globe? I ask because of this disturbing story by the Christian Science Monitor's Dan Murphy:
This development has some bitter ironies for both the Bush administration and the opponents of the Iraq war.
The administration might take some PR comfort in the WaPo's assertion that, "The targeting of Jordan can hardly be blamed on the Iraq war," but it must accept the fact that the success of this attack (as opposed to a botched 1999 attempt) is directly attributable to the administration's pre-invasion failure to take out Zarqawi and post0invasion failure to ensure basic security in Iraq.
For opponents, however, the irony is even more bitter. The Bush administration might have been full of it when it claimed a connection between Al Qaeda and Iraq prior to the invasion. However, as frustrating as it may be, Bush is correct to say that Iraq is now one of the focal points in the war against Al Qaeda -- the Jordan attacks are merely the latest evidence of this. As long as Zarqawi has a base of operations and a playground to train zealots, he will continue to be a potent source of trouble.
So, a question to those who advocate a pullout of U.S. forces from Iraq -- how would a U.S. withdrawal help in any way towards removing Iraq as a base of operations for Al Qaeda?posted by Dan on 11.11.05 at 11:27 AM
> So, a question to those who advocate a
The high-dollar management consultants so beloved by Republicans always tell you Step 1 is "Stop the Bleeding!". In this case the bleeding is poor decision making. Until that is stopped, there can be no reality-based dicusssion of next steps in Iraq.
So - when are "grown-up Republicans" going to start meeting in dark alleys and figuring out how they are going to stop the bleeding? Or is their thinking "let the Radicals take it on the chin in 2006 and 2008. Then the Democrats take a turn from 2008-2012 and fail miserably, leaving us in a _great_ position politically"?
Crankyposted by: Cranky Observer on 11.11.05 at 11:27 AM [permalink]
It's a valid question, but only if you accept the premise that US military presence can remove Iraq as a base of operations. Based the past two years, what reason is there to believe that?posted by: Jeff on 11.11.05 at 11:27 AM [permalink]
The question presupposes that the US presence in Iraq is removing Al-Qaeda from Iraq. Clearly, it's not. A US withdrawal might staunch Al Qaeda's growth in Iraq which is an acceptable outcome as opposed to the outcome of letting it further metastasize. A better question would be whether the 2 billion dollars a month spent on an unpopular occupation could better be redeployed in other ways to undermine Al-Qaeda. One of the shockers of this entire debacle is that pro-invasion supporters have never seriously questioned whether they're getting the biggest bang (we know tragically enough that Iraqis are) for US bucks.posted by: dougD on 11.11.05 at 11:27 AM [permalink]
So, a question to those who advocate a pullout of U.S. forces from Iraq -- how would a U.S. withdrawal help in any way towards removing Iraq as a base of operations for Al Qaeda?
It probably wouldn't. The real question is, though, what WOULD remove Iraq as a base of operations from al Qaeda? Certainly not keeping 100,000+ troops there indefinitely.posted by: Brad R. on 11.11.05 at 11:27 AM [permalink]
"The question presupposes that the US presence in Iraq is removing Al-Qaeda from Iraq. Clearly, it's not."
Clearly? Perhaps clearly to people who havent been following the action on the ground, particularly in Anbar. Granted, the MSM only reports suicide bombings, and not the fact that an impressive number of known, non Iraqi Al Qaeda leaders have been killed or captured in the last few weeks in Western Iraq including: Abu Umar, Abu Hamza, Abu Dua, Abu Mahmud, Abu Sa’ud, and Abu Asim. http://billroggio.com/archives/2005/11/facilitating.php
Apparently a string of AQ leaders have been sent from Saudi Arabia but they keep managing to get themselves killed, often with precision bombings which highly suggests local Iraqi intelligence on their positions.
What you are presupposing is that if these same thugs werent in Iraq creating havock then wouldnt exist or wouldnt be a problem. There is a real underlying supposition in this argument that all these terrorists wouldnt be a problem if we werent in Iraq. That is dangerously absurd. Recall Zaqawi was running a terrorist camp specializing in chemical and biological weapons in northern Iraq before the war. You think he'd still be sitting there peacefully if we were still dickering in the security council? We are at _war_ with this organization and its allies. Of course they will manage to strike at times. If not, they were never a real threat in the first place, which I happen to think is the true underlying premise of the anti-war argument. Which few have the courage to voice.posted by: Mark Buehner on 11.11.05 at 11:27 AM [permalink]
This is one of the few issues we have that gives us traction with american voters, Buehner. You want to take it away from us but you can't. We'll use whatever works, and right now this is working just fine. Bush lied, people died. Bush poll numbers continue to crash into the 20s, his barest most isolated supporters. Maybe we can impeach him, maybe not. What we can do is use the media to make him look like a weak and dangerous leader. It's all about perception. You'd better start accepting minority party status.posted by: leftistminded on 11.11.05 at 11:27 AM [permalink]
The vast majority of the people involved in the insurgency in Iraq are local. The large majority of the people held in American camps are Iraqi. If America were to leave, the marriage of convenience between AQ and the Sunnis (already very frayed) would likely break down since both have radically different visions for Iraq.
Finally, it should be clear to all but the meanest intellect that the situation in Iraq has made the US's mission of defeating AQ considerably more difficult. Before the war Zarqawi was small potatoes with a nearly non-existent network, with only loose affiliations to AQ mostly interested in revolution in Jordan. Now, AQ in Iraq is entrenched and many, many more terrorists have been created.
The saving grace for us has been the sheer brutality of AQ -- even before the war, they had managed to anger Indonesia with the Bali bombings and the recent Jordan bombings continue that trend. Being less hated than AQ in the ME may be the best goal we can get out of this now.
"Recall Zaqawi was running a terrorist camp specializing in chemical and biological weapons in northern Iraq before the war. You think he'd still be sitting there peacefully if we were still dickering in the security council?"
Recall that Zarqawi was in the Kurdish areas of Iraq before the war. If taking him out was a goal, it could easly have been accomplished with a strike without invadng the rest of Iraq. When the camp was attacked, no chemical or biological weapons were found.
And leftismminded, nice parody. It may have escaped your limited intellect, but part of the reason that Bush's popularity is in the 30s is beause of decisions like this and because of almost criminal incompetence.
Today, Bush claimed:
"No act of ours invited the rage of killers and no concession, bribe or act of appeasement would change or limit their plans for murder,"
Anyone remember "Bring em on" -?
posted by: wishIwuz2 on 11.11.05 at 11:27 AM [permalink]
If we were to pull out and no other powers came in al-Queda would soon find themselves in a meatgrinder. The Kurds and Shia would simply hunt them down and kill them. The Sunni would likely do the same thing after finding they could not use them for proxy warriors elsewhere in Iraq. AQ is only tolerated while the situtation is fluid on the ground and the Sunni's tolerate them. Iraqi security forces would resort to Hussein type measures as well w/ huge disincentives to support AQ. The resulting return to peace and quiet on the street will prove irrestible under a canton style government with an authoritarian hand.
It's just a bad question.
The U.S. could pull out, and should. Since Iraq
Also, most Sunni's don't want the 'terrorist' there
Once The U.S. pulls out it will finally become
The future of Iraq is an authoritarian land, only
Look like the secular state is the big loser here.
I'd hate to be a woman in Iraq for the next 50 years.
As for Al Qaeda? They are the Biggest winners of all.
They now and will have a base of operations for as
How does that saying go? Ah Yes...
"Oh, the tangled webs we weave When we practice to
Timeless.posted by: James on 11.11.05 at 11:27 AM [permalink]
Dan writes: "For opponents, however, the irony is even more bitter."
Not really. This was an entirely predictable (and predicted) outcome.
Al Qaeda needed a new base of operations, and we handed them a far better one on a silver platter, with bonus recruiting help.posted by: Jon H on 11.11.05 at 11:27 AM [permalink]
I wrote: "Not really. This was an entirely predictable (and predicted) outcome."
And, I might add, this was an excellent reason to not launch the war until we'd made far more progress against Al Qaeda.
So, hawks, your precious little war on Iraq has only made things worse.
Happy?posted by: Jon H on 11.11.05 at 11:27 AM [permalink]
Dan, you make an excellent point. If the US pulls out now, al qaeda will take over Iraq and use it as a base of operations to attack Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and of course Israel. This may be what the leftist twits have in mind. Destruction of an entire region. All Bush ever wanted was democracy in the middle east, to stave off the fanatical terrorists. Instead, the world's leftists have united with the religious terrorists in an attempt to bring total anarchy. Unintended consequences indeed. When dealing with twits on the left, expect the nihilist option.posted by: Mallory on 11.11.05 at 11:27 AM [permalink]
Translation: George Bush and his party controlled all of Government, certainly the executive branch and hence bear complete responsibility for what happened in Iraq. Yet somehow, the "leftists" are to blame for the mess that is Iraq.posted by: erg on 11.11.05 at 11:27 AM [permalink]
"However, as frustrating as it may be, Bush is correct to say that Iraq is now one of the focal points in the war against Al Qaeda -- the Jordan attacks are merely the latest evidence of this."
Yes, of course al-Qaeda is now entrenched in Iraq, precisely because of the US-British invasion. Saddam's firm hand fell on the "Salafis" and other fundamentalists as hard as any other perceived threat (which is probably why Zarqawi was chilling out in Kurdistan, outside of Saddam's control). This is why Osama bin Laden hated Saddam so much.
So, yes, now Iraq is a central theater in GWOT, precisely b/c of our mistakes. This is like some hypochondriac who complains falsely of abdominal disease, is proven wrong-- then swallows a bottle full of Drano. Obviously after this, he's right, he *does* have an abdominal problem... of his own making. It doesn't make him any less of an idiot.posted by: Forza on 11.11.05 at 11:27 AM [permalink]
posted by: praktike on 11.11.05 at 11:27 AM [permalink]
I think it's pretty much obvious that the foreign fighters are coming to Iraq to fight Americans. Remove the Americans, and whatever foreign fighters going there would have little reason to stay and participate in the coming Iraqi civil war. Most of the Afghan Arabs, after all, didn't stick around for the inter-Afghan civil war -- bin Laden himself went home and only came back to Afghanistan after Sudan booted him.
If there were any left after the Kurd/Shia/Sunni intramurals, whichever Iraqi faction is left standing would likely clean up the mess.posted by: ckrisz on 11.11.05 at 11:27 AM [permalink]
Mark Buehner -- yes we have captured some of the thousands of "number twos" in recent weeks.
But for over two years we have been capturing over a 1,000 insurgents each and every month but it has not seemed to slow the growth of the insurgency.
why???posted by: spencer on 11.11.05 at 11:27 AM [permalink]
The way I see it, if AQ-sponsored bombings are going to take place, it's better it happens in the Middle East than elsewhere. Supporting AQ and OBL is all fun and games until the bombings start taking place in your backyard. The Middle East incubated this sick ideology and they need to take a leading role in defeating it.
And for those who think that AQ in Iraq would suddenly dry up and blow away if the US were to completely withdraw, get real. The first thing that would happen if the US pulled out would be a civil war. And given how outnumbered the Sunnis are do you think that they would reject assistance from the Z-man and AQ? Please. Don't forget, AQ hates the Shia almost as much as the "crusader" Americans.
If you believe that the battle against Islamic terrorism is ultimately a political one, then the Jordan bombings are possibly a welcome development. It goes without saying that it is terrible that people have died. Innocent people. But in order for this war to be won people in the Middle East need to start rejecting this ideology with vigor. And thus far too many people have seemed indifferent as long as the victims weren't Sunni Muslims.
As long as AQ restricted itself to killing the Shia and crusader/Zionists the silence and lack of condemnation was deafening. There were no widespread protests after 9/11 (well, some people mourned in Iran). But now it is happening in their midst we see the masses turn out. And that is a very welcome and needed development.posted by: Colin on 11.11.05 at 11:27 AM [permalink]
"So, a question to those who advocate a pullout of U.S. forces from Iraq -- how would a U.S. withdrawal help in any way towards removing Iraq as a base of operations for Al Qaeda?"
I don't think it would because the aim of AQ operations in Iraq is not just the removal of American forces. Intercene rivalries would erupt with an American withdrawal, and would lead to a major power struggle that would likely draw even larger numbers of Jihadi fighters into the fray.
The para-military cocktail that exists in Iraq makes N. Ireland seem almost benign. Estimates of fighters in Iraq range as high as 200,000 (this according to an Iraq intelligence report/2005). The Sunni insurgency accounts for about 3,000 fighters and appears to have the greatest expertise when it comes to car bombings and other "skills". Given that it includes numbers of disaffected Saddam loyalists, it is highly likely that they would seek to overthrow American-engineered federalism that works against the traditional Sunni power structure.
In such a scenario the Shia Badr Brigade and Moqtada Sadr's Mehdi Army would get stuck in, and a civil conflict of this nature would be a powerful magnet for AQ for whom Iraq has become both the symbol and crucible of jihad in the region.posted by: Aidan Maconachy on 11.11.05 at 11:27 AM [permalink]
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