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Preview: RealClearPolitics - Articles - John Dwyer

RealClearPolitics - Articles - John Dwyer

Last Build Date: Thu, 27 Jul 2006 14:17:37 -0600

Copyright: Copyright 2007

Meanwhile, Back in Baghdad

Thu, 27 Jul 2006 14:17:37 -0600

The evil arachnid Ahmadinejad sits in Tehran, the fiendish filaments of his web stretching from Beirut to Baghdad and beyond. Iran's Republican Guard Corps (IRGC) has been actively supporting terrorism in Iraq for some time now. For example, as posted at Iraq The Model (ITM) on May 13, 2006, the reliable Az-Zaman newspaper reported that the IRGC has been supplying al Qaeda in Iraq with SAM-7 anti-aircraft missiles, more powerful IEDs, machine guns and rifles. This infusion of murderous materiele was facilitated by Hezbollah after al Qaeda representatives met in Beirut to establish channels with Tehran. Iran's border with Iraq is a long one, too long at the moment for Coalition and Iraqi forces to secure. Iran's Ahmadinejad and Iraq's Muqtada al-Sadr share the same apocalyptic vision about the rise of the "Savior" or "Hidden" Imam of Shia Islam. They both believe in the "Imam Mahdi" hence Sadr's "Mahdi army." From ITM: "Ahmedinejad and Sadr believe it is their duty to pave the way and prepare the ground for the rise of the Imam [which] requires certain conditions... we are seeing some signs here [in Baghdad] that make us think that Iran and its tools in Iraq are trying to provoke [that] rise..." No wonder that Sadr stated the other day that he is going to send 1500 picked men to bolster Iranian-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon. As President Bush has stated on several occasions, Iraq is the central front in the global war on terror. The unholy trio of terrorists, insurgents and death squads understand that Baghdad has become the main battleground, the strategic prize: the Iraqi government, its security forces and the coalition know the same thing, hence Prime Minister Maliki's decision to launch Operation Forward Together. With the context- and perspective-destroying 24/7 media airing nothing but negative news from Iraq, it is no wonder that Americans, especially during the enervating heat of summer, are less and less patient with seeming lack of progress. They ought to look at a map of Baghdad to understand the daunting nature of Forward Together, to orient their compass of understanding with the facts. The city of Baghdad, population 6 million, occupies some 250 square miles. Within its borders are a dozen municipalities, or baladiyat such as Mansour, Nissan and Khadamiyah, which in turn are divided into quarters that are further divided into mahallat or numbered districts. This is a huge urban and suburban metaphorical jungle in which the human beasts operate, picking the time and place of their attacks. Coalition and Iraqi forces, the hunters, appreciate and encourage tips from civilians, and there have been almost 1,000 of them in the last 30 days. In his July 24 press conference, Multi-National Force Iraq spokesman Maj. Gen. William Caldwell offered some much-needed perspective regarding Operation Forward Together. In the first place, most of the violence is occurring in 5 of Baghdad's 12 baladiyat. As Maj. Gen. Caldwell put it, "Hundreds of thousands of Baghdadis live a regular life day in, day out, unmarred by violent attacks on civilians..." It is roughly a microcosm of the combat situation countrywide, where 14 out of Iraq's 18 provinces are relatively quiescent. On a daily basis, 51,000 troops (combined Iraqi and Coalition forces) conduct 700 patrols. Most of them are executed independently by Iraqis. Six hundred checkpoints are manned. MG Caldwell stressed that the "volume and flexibility of Iraqi-manned checkpoints has inhibited the movement of the enemy and [its] ability to strike at innocent civilians. There have been tragic, sensational, attention-grabbing attacks, but countless attacks have been prevented or mitigated (not covered by media) because the checkpoints are out there, in many cases taking the hit instead of civilians." He cited another instance where two suicide bombers killed patrons in a crowded restaurant (generating headline news) and the "not well reported" immediate aftermath - Iraqi forces responded immediately and provided first-aid. One of the s[...]