Iraq

Today the NYTimes writes on the Iraqi Army’s going into Sadr city. They are saying this is the

first determined effort by the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to assert control over the neighborhood,

But as we know, it’s actually the 2nd. Apparently the first one doesn’t count because it ended in a ceasefire. ?? This is from the article.

An Iraqi plan to mount an offensive was developed but shelved after negotiations between representatives from the Sadr movement and Shiite politicians led to a cease-fire accord.

Interesting how the paper can completely forget their bashing of the first offensive in Sadr City. Kudos to a mostly news story today anywho. They left some wiggle room for disaster though.

By late Tuesday, the atmosphere among Iraqi commanders was one of relief. But the operation was still in its early stages and ongoing. Iraqi troops still had more ground to cover, and they were expected to begin a systematic search for arms that will likely take weeks.

In the meantime, Iraqi forces are also on the offensive in Mosul!

Another important thing that distinguishes this operation from previous ones is the active participation of the infant Iraqi air force through transportation and daily reconnaissance sorties. Iraqi officers say that this is the first time they are able to rely on the Iraqi air force for valuable live imagery of the spread-out city.

Some of the critics of the operation noted that announcing the operation before its launch gave al-Qaeda a chance to leave the city for other places, including neighboring countries, thus enabling them to dodge the strike which might waste the chance to crush them in their last remaining stronghold. I personally disagree with this argument. What matters, after all, is to clean the city of al-Qaeda, preferably without fighting. This illustrates a very important trend that we first saw in the Baghdad operations last year; that al-Qaeda now knows that it cannot afford to confront the security forces anymore. Now, instead of digging in and fighting “glorious battles” in Fallujah or elsewhere, al-Qaeda is more inclined to run away than fight. This is a true sign of al-Qaeda’s weakening and of their ultimate defeat.

Last but not least, I was surprised to see the leading opposition newspaper Azzaman, which had always been skeptical of everything the government does, praise the operation. To see a headline on Azzaman that says “Al-Qaeda Is Limping, Its Leaders Flee Mosul” means a lot to anyone familiar with Iraqi affairs.

Things continue to look up for Iraq!

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