Guardian: AQ all but defeated in Iraq

posted at 11:30 am on June 11, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

The Guardian, not known for its support of the war in Iraq or the Bush administration’s policies there, admits two crucial points today: al-Qaeda has lost Iraq, and the surge of American troops provided the means for their defeat. The paper couches this in fears of a new front for AQ, in reality the potential on two existing fronts, but cannot escape the conclusion that the forward strategy against the terrorist network in both Iraq and Afghanistan has worked:

Evidence of al-Qaida’s problems in Iraq is weighty and convincing. It has been badly hit by the fightback from the American-backed Sunni “Sons of Iraq” and the US troop “surge”. Western intelligence agencies estimate that the number of foreign fighters is down to single figures each month. The border with Syria is now harder to cross.

Iraq-watchers point, too, to financial strain caused by the arrests of al-Qaida sympathisers in Saudi Arabia, mafia-like disputes over alcohol licences and difficulties recruiting the right calibre of people. Last month, a sympathetic website carried a study showing a 94% decline in operations over a year. The Islamic State of Iraq claimed 334 operations in November 2006 but just 25 a year later. Attacks dropped from 292 in May 2007 to 16 by mid-May this year.

Dia Rashwan, an Egyptian expert on radical Islamists, says recent al-Qaida propaganda footage from Iraq is old and cannot mask the crisis it is facing. “They have not got new things to say about Iraq though they are trying to give the impression that they are still alive. The material isn’t convincing.” Nigel Inkster, former deputy head of MI6, now at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, agrees: “Al-Qaida is starting to prepare their people for strategic failure in Iraq.”

Al-Qaida is also perceived as being “on the back foot” because of attacks by Muslim clerics on its takfiri ideology and revulsion at the killing of innocent Muslims. Participants in Zawahiri’s recent “open dialogue” on Islamist websites compared al-Qaida’s performance unfavourably with the successes of Hamas in Palestine and Hizbullah in Lebanon.

Challenges to the use of violence by Sayid Imam al-Sharif, founder of the Egyptian Jihad group, have rattled his old colleague Zawahiri, says Rashwan. Influential Saudi clerics have helped undercut al-Qaida’s theological arguments. How far such rarified debates affect radicalised Muslim youth in Bradford or Madrid is a different question.

Our success has not been limited to Iraq, either. Afghanistan’s situation has improved in large measure because of the aggressive new tactics adopted at about the same time as the surge in Iraq. The use of close air support to chase down Taliban ambush teams has decimated their forces and kept them from launching their traditional offensives against NATO the last two springs. Predator drones find senior leadership in Pakistan more often, and with more devastating results.

The “new fronts” that concern the Guardian are in Algeria, Yemen, and Somalia. None of these are new in any sense. Algeria had the GPSC for decades, fighting the radical Islamist cause, and they aligned themselves with AQ years ago. Yemen has also been a problem for years; the attack on the USS Cole in 2000 predating 9/11 and our forward strategy.

Somalia has likewise presented a problem, perhaps the earliest manifestation of Islamist terrorism as directed against the West. It also serves as an example of why we need to remain in Iraq until we have ensured the stability of the government. If we pull out too quickly, Iraq could become a failed state, similar to Somalia but with much greater strategic dangers. A failed Iraq run by warlords and terrorist groups would have massive resources in oil to fund their operations directly. The West cannot afford a Somalia-on-the-Euphrates.

At the end, the Guardian quotes an expert claiming that AQ will rebuild if the next American administration follows the Bush policies in the Middle East. From the evidence, we can see that the opposite is true. AQ has suffered severe blows in the last two years, and the proper conclusion is that we should continue to do what works.


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Comments

Sorry, but the Caliphate was never seated in Algeria, Yemen, or Somalia. Iraq mattered. There’s no good news here for OBL and his supporters.

JiangxiDad on June 11, 2008 at 11:35 AM

Thank God for Bush taking the war to them! Better to fight & beat them there than here.

jgapinoy on June 11, 2008 at 11:36 AM

The two elements for long peaces among major powers are maritime supremacy and decisive victory. Make defeat of your enemy very painful, personal, inexcusable, and final to stop future conflicts.

NaCly dog on June 11, 2008 at 11:40 AM

How can this be?

I thought if we fight them, instead of sitting down and talking with them, all we do is create more terrorists

SPCOlympics on June 11, 2008 at 11:40 AM

The Guardian cried the entire time it reported this. It can still be heard wimpering.

Though, for objectivity, sometimes they write the most interesting and objective articles.

Entelechy on June 11, 2008 at 11:40 AM

Sure, AQ has been mostly defeated, but the Iranian backed Mahdi Army and similar shia extremists are still strong.

malan89 on June 11, 2008 at 11:43 AM

Will it matter, the media and the dems have convinced the public that we went into Iraq under false pretenses and Saddam was never working with Al-Qaeda and other terrorist. That the war made AQ come to Iraq for the first time….ridiculous lies of course, but the consensus of the public is there.

makes me want to puke.

jp on June 11, 2008 at 11:44 AM

think I may take this report and send to to Samir Khan to taunt him with.

jp on June 11, 2008 at 11:49 AM

“Ah,” the National Conference for Media Reform says. “Further proof that the boooshitlerdarthcheney hate machine has tightened its nefarious propaganda grip on the worldwide media.”

locomotivebreath1901 on June 11, 2008 at 11:51 AM

jp on June 11, 2008 at 11:44 AM

…the war made AQ come to Iraq for the first time …

And there is where they got their asses handed to them.

Kafir on June 11, 2008 at 11:51 AM

malan89, As I recall, the Iraqi Army has recently taken care of the Mahdi Army in Sadr City- They have shown their ability to stand up to the Militias.

gmoonster on June 11, 2008 at 11:53 AM

Sure, AQ has been mostly defeated, but the Iranian backed Mahdi Army and similar shia extremists are still strong.

malan89 on June 11, 2008 at 11:43 AM

As state actors, I think they represent a different and more traditional type of threat.

JiangxiDad on June 11, 2008 at 11:53 AM

Just in time for President Barry to redeploy all the Arabic translators to Haiti.

Chuck Schick on June 11, 2008 at 11:55 AM

As state actors, I think they represent a different and more traditional type of threat.

JiangxiDad on June 11, 2008 at 11:53 AM

I agree with you. They should be easier to take out…under normal circumstances. I wouldn’t be so afraid if the leading Presidential candidate wasn’t such a softie on Iran. Hopefully Bush will be able to make some progress in this department before Barry O takes office.

malan89 on June 11, 2008 at 11:59 AM

I wish those guys would stop hijacking the most revered religion in the world. Did you know that Mohammed was the last prophet of our Moon God? So that means the Mormons are lying.

[email protected] on June 11, 2008 at 12:08 PM

Bullsnacks! There was never any AQ in Iraq so this little tale is complete fakery.

I know this because I saw it on Baracky’s website. Wait…they just scrubbed that part and replaced it with a short piece extolling Obama’s solid support of the surge.

Bishop on June 11, 2008 at 12:18 PM

Chuck Schick

…and Sec of State Murtha to redeploy the troops to Okinawa.

jgapinoy on June 11, 2008 at 12:20 PM

The whole story is

“Yeah, but….”

drjohn on June 11, 2008 at 12:23 PM

I bet they are wearing a hole in their prayer rugs for Obama to get elected before any hope of victory in Iraq is ever possible again.

Hening on June 11, 2008 at 12:24 PM

At the end, the Guardian quotes an expert claiming that AQ will rebuild if the next American administration follows the Bush policies in the Middle East.

If the Guardian was a bank, it would be Porky Mutual.

mymanpotsandpans on June 11, 2008 at 12:25 PM

Thank God for Bush taking the war to them! Better to fight & beat them there than here.

jgapinoy on June 11, 2008 at 11:36 AM

Amen

The world will probably never have the ability to see what was accomplished by President Bush in terms of world peace. I also don’t expect many thank yous to the men and women that actually “took it” to them either.

Hening on June 11, 2008 at 12:28 PM

Notice how Hayden’s comment about “stratecgic defeat in Iraq” gets conflated to include Afghanistan and Algeria?

drjohn on June 11, 2008 at 12:30 PM

At the end, the Guardian quotes an expert claiming that AQ will rebuild if the next American administration follows the Bush policies in the Middle East

Amazing. They finally come around to acknowledging the positive results, but they can’t resist throwing out this nonsense. I guess the world is at peace again, and we can all go back to ignoring the threat.

Rick on June 11, 2008 at 12:32 PM

This means the result of the war in Iraq is the following:

1. Deposed dictator who was a threat to the region and his people and a supporter of terrorists;
2. Drew al Qaeda in a big way into Iraq where we could kill them far away from our own civilian populations;
3. The discredit of al Qaeda and their ideology by defeating them and exposing their tactics as the wrong way for the entire Islamic world;
4. Allowing Sunnis (and Shias) the opportunity to kill al Qaeda members with joy further discrediting them and their ideology and providing the opportunity for grassroots level Iraqis to take control over their own lives and decide for themselves to invest in a new Iraq.
5. Islamic scholars and leaders around the world finally now have the courage of their convictions to speak openly against al Qaeda’s ideology (after they saw what side was winning in Iraq and Afghanistan);

Does this make Bush a genius looking back in 20 years?

Still-A-Neocon

stillaneocon on June 11, 2008 at 12:33 PM

“Al-Qaida is starting to prepare their people for strategic failure in Iraq.”

They’ve been doing that since the day they got there. Let this be a lesson to all jihadis, this is what happens when try to fight the Western Powers.

Tony737 on June 11, 2008 at 12:34 PM

Come again? What’s working will stop working unless we stop what’s working?

The simple truth is this. When you kill enough of the people who were trying to kill you and yours then they stop trying to kill you and try to preserve what they have left. That’s the way all successful wars end.

Keep killing them, boys! You’re making this old E-9 proud!!!

E9RET on June 11, 2008 at 12:37 PM

Last paragraph of that Guardian article:
.
“Rashwan says Gen Hayden is wrong to play down al-Qaida’s strengths in Afghanistan and Algeria. “Just because the CIA says al-Qaida has been defeated it’s not thanks to the efforts of the Americans. The al-Qaida idea will not die if American foreign policy remains the same in the Middle East and the Muslim world. If there is another administration like Bush in Iraq and a new war in Iran, it will get a new lease of life.”
.
This Rashwan is said to be an “expert on radical Islamists”. If so, he ought to know that radical Islamism predates the Bush Administration by decades. However, this apparently suits his agenda as well as that of the very leftist Guardian’s agenda, namely slamming Bush and America. It also illustrates the incorrect, illogical, historically uninformed view among leftists that somehow America and the West are responsible for creating radical Islamism.

DavePa on June 11, 2008 at 12:45 PM

stillaneocon on June 11, 2008 at 12:33 PM

You can add to that a developing model of actual cooperation and peace between Shia and Sunni. It is horrible that it took a local war and thousands of dead Iraqis to get there, but that’s better than another regional war between Iraq and Iran that would have killed millions.

Worst possible thing right now would be to kill Osama bin Laden and make him a martyr. Bush has taken a brutal beating over his “failure” to capture or kill bin Laden, but I think he knew what he was doing all along – isolating bin Laden while killing all of his lieutenants and forcing him to watch the dismemberment of his movement. Death is what he wanted. Defeat and irrelevancy is what he is getting.

rockmom on June 11, 2008 at 12:48 PM

Afghanistan:

The use of close air support to chase down Taliban ambush teams has decimated their forces …

What? Ya mean there’s MORE proof that KICKIN’ their azz works better than kissin’ it???

Tony737 on June 11, 2008 at 12:49 PM

rockmom on June 11, 2008 at 12:48 PM

Tony737 on June 11, 2008 at 12:49 PM

Developing a model of cooperation is now added to the list of Iraq War results (as is further evidence that kicking al Qaeda’s butt is better than kissing it).

Still-A-Neocon

stillaneocon on June 11, 2008 at 12:58 PM

AQ may be on the run for now and in desperate need of cross trainers but help is on the way.

The future “Community Organizer and Chief” will likely have an outreach program on the table for the tierd and disaffected terrorist in your neighborhood.

moxie_neanderthal on June 11, 2008 at 1:01 PM

Rockmom: actually what I’d like to have happen is at Bush’s last presser after the November elections that they run a Hellfire videotape whos last frame is Bin Laden very surprised face. Then Bush would say:

“We’ve known where he was for awhile now. I just thought we ought to exit the world stage at the same time- but in different ways.”

michaelo on June 11, 2008 at 1:04 PM

stillaneocon on June 11, 2008 at 12:33 PM

Updated: This means the result of the war in Iraq is the following:

(in no particular order)

1. Deposed dictator who was a threat to the region and his people and a supporter of terrorists;
2. Drew al Qaeda in a big way into Iraq where we could kill them far away from our own civilian populations;
3. The discredit of al Qaeda and their ideology by defeating them and exposing their tactics as the wrong way for the entire Islamic world;
4. Allowing the development of a 3rd way of political organization in the Islamic world that shows signs of promise (the 3rd way is representative government vs. secular or religious dictatorships—the 1st and 2nd ways).
5. Allowing Sunnis (and Shias) the opportunity to kill al Qaeda members with joy further discrediting them and their ideology and providing the opportunity for grassroots level Iraqis to take control over their own lives and decide for themselves to invest in a new Iraq.
6. Allowing a model of actual cooperation and peace to develop between Shia and Sunni {although it came after a local war and thousands of dead Iraqis to get there, but that’s better than another regional war between Iraq and Iran that would kill millions).
7. Islamic scholars and leaders around the world finally now have the courage of their convictions to speak openly against al Qaeda’s ideology (after they saw what side was winning in Iraq and Afghanistan);
8. Further evidence that kicking al Qaeda’s butt is better than kissing it.

Bush will look like a genius looking back in 20 years!

Still-A-Neocon

stillaneocon on June 11, 2008 at 1:05 PM

Developing a model of cooperation is now added to the list of Iraq War results. – Neocon

True, but with Sunni tribes, NOT a.q.

When it comes to a.q.: Kill ’em all.

Tony737 on June 11, 2008 at 1:45 PM

Bush truthed, libs goofed.

whitetop on June 11, 2008 at 2:23 PM