Bill Roggio has an excellent summary of what's been happening in recent days in Iraq. Almost unnoticed has been the relative calm that's prevailed since last week's bombing of the twin minartets of the Al-Askaria mosque in Samarra. So far, the corresponding increase in sectarian violence has failed to materialize, for a couple of reasons. First, a curfew was imposed almost immediately after the bombing, keeping most Iraqi citizens off the streets, and making it easier for security forces to deal with the bad guys.
The lack of violence is also a reflection of the troop surge. With more U.S. soldiers and Marines on the street, and dozens of new security posts in troubled areas, security personnel can respond more quickly to the threat, and even provide a deterrent presence.
Clearly, the battle for Iraq is far from won. But the ability of security forces to keep a lid on the situation--in the wake of an obvious (and serious) provocation by Al Qaida--is an encouraging sign. There will be similar attacks in the coming days, more attempts to restoke the sectarian fires. But having enough troops to not only blunt enemy attacks--but take the fight to the terrorists' former safe havens--is a powerful antidote.
Now, if only someone could explain that to Harry Reid.
ADDENDUM: More thoughts on this topic from the estimable Michael Yon. He notes the role of "smart politics" in tamping down violence after the latest Samarra bombing--and it's not the kind of politics advocated by Senator Reid, Speaker Pelosi, or members of the Baker-Hamilton Commission (A hat tip to reader Marlin).
Well, they would apparently have to start at the beginning in words of one syllable for Harry Reid: US = good guys, Al Qaida = bad guys. See Al Qaida run. Run, Al Qaida, run. Why do the bad guys run? The good guys (that would be US armed forces, senator, note to self: Put a picture of a US soldier on PowerPoint so he can identify our team, as he apparently is having trouble knowing who to cheer far) are kicking their ass.
Michael Yon has a post up today about the Battle for Baqubah that presents his take on why there has been less violence after the second bombing of the Samarra shrine.
When the Golden Dome was obliterated in Samarra in 2006, and blood gushed into the streets, the politically inconvenient truth about the malignant potency of Al Qaeda was undeniable. In a perverse anniversary commemorated earlier this month, the two lone minarets left standing in Samarra after the 2006 bombing, were unceremoniously flattened in attacks that resulted in reprisals nearby in Babil Province and as far removed as Basra.
At least part of the reason we are not seeing even wider-spread open-necked reprisals for the recent bombings (though the reprisals have been serious) is because our current leadership under Petraeus is adroitly pushing political buttons behind the curtains. Based on things I saw, heard, and even videotaped while out among Iraqi tribal leaders in Anbar, unseen hands are reaching out and finding peace with tribes where others found war. Based on what I see all around Iraq, and not just in Anbar, I believe intuitively that most of this war can be ended through smart politics.
Michael Yon: Be Not Afraid
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