Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Even Al Qaeda Says We're Winning In Iraq

Earlier in the month, CENTCOM released a translation of an intercepted letter from "Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia" (Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's group) and their associates in Al Qaeda (Bin Laden, Zawahiri, et al). The full translation can be found

A few of the passages merit comment:
"The mujahidin . . . are not considered more than a daily annoyance to the [Iraqi] government. . . . Most of the mujahidin groups in Baghdad are generally groups of assassin [sic] without any organized military capabilities. . . . Every year is worse than the previous year as far as the Mujahidin's control and influence over Baghdad."

And further down:
"The military commander of Baghdad is a courageous young man with a good determination but he has little and simple experience in the military field and does not have a clear vision about the current stage and how to deal with it. . . . The current commander of Northern al-Karkh is very concerned because of his deteriorating security situation caused by being pursued by the Americans."

So what is a terrorist organization to do when its leaders are being hounded, its attacks are ineffective, and its strategic situation is deteriorating? Rely on the Western media, of course!!:
"The policy followed by the brothers in Baghdad is a media oriented policy without a clear comprehensive plan to capture an area or an enemy center. . . . The significance of the strategy of their work is to show in the media that the American and the government do not control the situation and there is resistance against them."

In other words, Al Qaeda has failed in its strategic goal of preventing Sunni participation in the political process and the formation of Iraq's first-ever democratically-elected permanent government. However, because it is impossible to guard every street corner throughout the country, they can still enjoy some tactical successes in detonating bombs against Iraqi civilians. Thus, they are hoping for the equivalent of a buzzer beating "Hail Mary" pass in which the Western media is duped into reporting these limited tactical accomplishments as strategic success, thereby weakening U.S. resolve and leading to the withdrawal of American forces.

This strategy, borne of desperation, closely echoes the strategy successfully utilized by the North Vietnamese a generation ago. In a 1990 interview with historian Stanley Karnow, General Vo Nguyen Giap explained: "We were not strong enough to drive out a half-million American troops, but that wasn't our aim. Our intention was to break the will of the American government to continue to the war."

The media's misreporting of the Tet Offensive (a strategic disaster for the Viet Cong) enabled this strategy to work. Will history repeat itself for Al Qaeda in Iraq?