Apparently neither the US nor Iraqi forces, nor the governments that control them, are playing nicely. I continue to think that Sadr probably thought he was on the verge of victory last November, then had the (Persian?) rug pulled out from under him when Bush announced a “surge”, not a withdrawal, in January.
I’ve said repeatedly that the “surge” is, in fact, the least important part of the “new strategy”.
Going on the offensive at previous troop levels would have made a larger impact than surging additional troops to continue to sit in the FOBs and man a few checkpoints when the Iraqi government let us. So the tactics are more important that the troop levels, though more troops obviously increases the number of things you can do and your effectiveness when doing them.
But trumping both US troop levels and US tactics is the hardening of the Iraqi government (and its new army) against the Anti Iraq Forces, particularly the Iraqi militias.
The three generalized groups of Anti Iraq Forces and who will need to deal with them:
- Iraqi militias (like Sadr’s bunch of thugs): Mostly an Iraqi problem except for major confrontations
- Sunni insurgents: US problem at first, shifting more and more to the Iraqis as Sunnis join the new Iraq and remaining insurgents become more and more isolated
- Foreign fighters and terrorists (like Al Qaeda in Iraq): Mostly US problem, Iraqis charged with security after they’re cleared out
There’s a lot of overlap between the three groups, particularly where Iran is concerned (mostly #1 and #3), and I’ve obviously simplified it greatly. But you could do worse than look at it like this.
The Iraqi government keeps ratcheting up the pressure on Sadr’s bunch, and as more and more day-to-day security is provided by Iraqi troops, fewer and fewer thugs are motivated to fight (or even protest) the occupiers.
The surge/strategy/whatever is working. Slowly, but all counter-insurgency operations take time. We won’t even get the military’s report about how much progress has been made until September. That’s a progress report, not a go/no-go decision. The military won’t have a complete report for two months, and yet Congress has known since March or so that it’s already failed.
Sunni extremists are likely to try a series of high-profile attacks to grab the headlines ahead of a watershed report to Congress in September on political and military progress in Iraq, the top U.S. commander said Saturday.
–We expect they will try this — pull off a variety of sensational attacks and grab the headlines to create a ‘mini-Tet,’ ” Gen. David Petraeus said in an interview with The Associated Press.
The General apparently didn’t say whether he expected the media to fall for it. Murdoc knows where his money is on that one.