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With Al Qaeda on the ropes, in Iraq (a central front by their own definition) and elsewhere, is Sayyid Imam al-Sharif becoming the hirabist movement's equivalent of Trotsky?

A key point from the Journal editorial:

Zawahiri himself last month repeated his claim that the country "is now the most important arena in which our Muslim nation is waging the battle against the forces of the Crusader-Zionist campaign." So it's all the more significant that on this crucial battleground, al Qaeda has been decimated by the surge of U.S. forces into Baghdad. The surge, in turn, gave confidence to the Sunni tribes that this was a fight they could win. For Zawahiri, losing the battles you say you need to win is not a way to collect new recruits. ...

[I]t is the surge, and the destruction of al Qaeda in Iraq , that has helped to demoralize al Qaeda around the world. Nothing would more embolden Zawahiri now than a U.S. retreat from Iraq, which al Qaeda would see as the U.S. version of the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan.

That should be required reading for the Obama campaign. If we had followed his advice, we'd already have such an emboldened Al Qaeda. But they seem to be in denial:

...if Obama fails to "capitalize"-to take advantage of circumstances his opponent helped create and he opposed-is he guilty of only excessive pessimism? Or has he proven himself to be inflexible, unmoved by new facts, unwilling to admit error and divorced from reality? Hmmm, seems like someone said similar things about George W. Bush.

It does seem ironic.

[h/t to Cliff May for the Journal piece]

[Update a few minutes later]

It's not just Al Qaeda on the run in Iraq. The Mahdi Army and its Iranian allies aren't have a good time, either:

VSSA-logo.jpg Permalink | Printer-friendly version Iraqi Army interdicting Iranian operations in the South By Bill RoggioJune 1, 2008 10:48 PM

Click to view larger interactive map of southern Iraq.

Iraqi and Coalition forces press operations against the Mahdi Army in Baghdad and Basrah despite the cease-fire signed with the Mahdi Army in Sadr City. The Iraqi Army has expanded its operations in Basrah province to the east just along the Iranian border, while 11 Mahdi Army fighters have been captured during operations in Baghdad over the past 24 hours.

Iraqi soldiers and police, backed by US and British advisers, have expanded Operation Knights' Assault to the eastern town of Abu Al Khasib, in a region east of Basrah on the Iranian border. A brigade from the 1st Iraqi Army Division, backed by a battalion from 14th Iraqi Army Division and two Iraqi National Police battalions conducted operations along the border over the past two days. One suspect was detained and 52 AK-47 assault rifles and one submachine gun were found during the sweep.

Abu Al Khasib is on Highway 6 at the border crossing with Iran at Shalamcheh. The Iranian city of Shalamcheh is the main forward operating base for the Ramazan Corps's southernmost command. The Ramazan Corps is the Qods Force command assigned to direct operations inside Iraq. Weapons, fighters, and cash smuggled across the border into Basrah would pass through Abu Al Khasib.

The Iraqi Army has been expanding its operations along the Iranian supply routes in the South during the month of May. After clearing the Mahdi Army and other Iranian-backed militias from Basrah, operations have expanded into Az Zubayr and Al Qurnah.

It's still five months to go until the election, with a lot more potential progress to come. I can imagine the anti-Obama ads, contrasting the (undeniable, at that point) progress in Iraq with video of the evacuations from the embassy roof in Saigon. It could be a repeat of either McGovern, or Carter in 1980.

[Update a little while later]

Victor Davis Hanson has some related observations:

How odd (or to be expected) that suddenly intelligence agencies, analysts, journalists, and terrorists themselves are attesting that al-Qaeda is in near ruins, that ideologically radical Islam is losing its appeal, and that terrorist incidents against Americans at home and abroad outside the war zones are at an all-time low--and yet few associate the radical change in fortune in Iraq as a contributory cause to our success.

Actually, given the pervasive bias in the media on this subject, it's to be expected, not odd at all.

[Early afternoon update]

The Taliban is on the ropes in Afghanistan, too.


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This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on June 2, 2008 7:56 AM.

One Man, One Way was the previous entry in this blog.

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