I will say it simply--the Iraqi Government of Prime Minister Maliki is taking part in an information operation to help Republicans in the upcoming election. The evidence? How about the repeated claims that "we have killed or captured" the number two in Iraq? (And no, my reference to "number two" is not a euphemism for defecation.) I refer instead to the steady drumbeat of breathless anouncements about the "latest" capture of a senior Al Qaeda operative in Iraq. The frequency of these claims is not a simple consequence of stepped up U.S. and Iraqi military operations. It is a deliberate effort to manipulate U.S. public opinion into believing real progress is being made in Iraq because the truth--that we're losing the ground war in Iraq--is unpalatable grist for the November elections.
Consider the following news flash:
On Sunday, Iraq's national security adviser announced the arrest of Hamed Jumaa Farid al-Saeedi, also known as Abu Humam or Abu Rana, and said that had left al-Qaida in Iraq suffering a "serious leadership crisis."
A few days later, however, the U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, General William Caldwell, admitted that the U.S. had captured Hamed three months earlier:
Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell said Hamed Jumaa Farid al-Saeedi, also known as Abu Humam or Abu Rana, was captured on June 19. He also said other suspects had been arrested and were in custody, but that their names had not yet been made public.
Since then we've had two other similar claims:
14 September 2006. Iraq"s Interior Ministry has said its forces have killed a senior figure of the al Qaeda militant group in Baghdad. The ministry described the slain militant, Abu Jaafar al-Liby, as the number-two leader of al Qaeda in Iraq behind Abu Ayyub al-Masri who succeeded Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, killed by US forces this year.
23 September 2006. Meanwhile, authorities said a leader of Ansar al-Sunnah, a group linked to al-Qaida in Iraq that is responsible for kidnappings and beheadings has been captured by Iraqi and U.S. forces. Muntasir Hamoud Ileiwi al-Jubouri and two of his aides were arrested in Muqdadiyah, 56 miles northeast of Baghdadlate Friday, Brig. Qassim al-Mussawi, spokesman for the General Command of the Armed Forces, told The Associated Press.
And let's not forget how the death on 8 June 2006 of Al Qaeda's leader in Iraq--Abu Musab Al Zarqawi--affected the level of violence in Iraq: the number of attacks in Iraq soared in July and August. According to none other than our UN envoy, John Bolton:
Sectarian violence and insurgent attacks increased throughout Iraq over the past three months. . . .The average number of weekly attacks increased 15 percent over the previous reporting period, and Iraqi casualties increased by 51 percent.
Insurgent and terrorist attacks reached an all time high in July and declined slightly in August, but those two months represent the highest level of violence recorded in Iraq since the U.S. invasion. And no relief appears in sight. The U.S. military spokesman in Iraq is warning that the violence will get worse in September and October as part of a Ramadan offensive.
The time has come for the The U.S. military to rethink its strategy and tactics in Iraq. So far it has focused on the futile strategy of degrading the leadership of Al Qaeda. We have been plowing this field for two years and have not stopped the violence. The facts show the opposite. Despite having killed and captured a large number of alleged Al Qaeda operatives in Iraq, the number of daily attacks has skyrocketed. That's a fact, not an opinion.
From the standpoint of Prime Minister Maliki and his Shia allies, Moqtada al-Sadr in particular, the U.S. strategy is a blessing from Allah. Why? Because we are killing terrorists who support Sunnis. The more the United States can kill Sunni insurgents/terrorists, the fewer Sunnis left to fight Shias. But, that theory is not working out so neatly in practice. The various Sunni groups in Iraq are not going away quietly. They are striking back repeatedly and viciously because they believe their very survival as a people is at stake.
Rightly or wrongly, the United States is perceived as having taken a side in this civil war. We are fighting to bolster Shia control. The mullahs in Iran are also happy for this gift from Heaven--the Shia in Iraq are consolidating their control over areas considered sacred to all Shia.
Meanwhile, our troops are caught in a figurative no-mans land with no plan to escape and no plan for victory. For Maliki and his crowd, the only election that matters is the upcoming U.S. vote. If they can keep a Republican Congress who will "stay the course", the Shia plan to control vital areas of Iraq will remain on track. America's sons and daughters who are being killed and maimed in Iraq are sacrificing so that Shias can run Iraq and, with the backing of Iran, change the strategic face of the Middle East. And that new face will not be smiling on the United States or Israel. Mission accomplished?