Wednesday, July 18, 2007

al Qaeda Denial Syndrome

DailyKos mocks: It's al-Qaeda, All the Way Down

I went to the dry cleaners this week, and some al-Qaeda laundry worker lost a button off my shirt. Then the al-Qaeda gas station had the prices back up to $3, and my al-Qaeda molar started to hurt, and I had to visit the al-Qaeda dentist. So I really just had an al-Qaeda of a day.

You think I'm overusing that term? Obviously, Bush does not agree.

Kos & Co. must be getting its intelligence from Barbara Boxer, who reduces the conflict in Iraq to a meager Civil War.

However, Bill Roggio, who is actually reporting from Iraq, sees it differently, as he debunks Malcolm Nance's views on the Iraq war: Al Qaeda and its role in the Iraq insurgency
The attempts to minimize the role played by al Qaeda in Iraq in the larger Sunni insurgency took a significant step over the past week. Clark Hoyt, the public editor of the New York Times, claimed that the media had become complicit in the government's attempts to paint the entire Sunni insurgency with an al Qaeda brush. Also this week, Malcolm Nance published an article at the Small Wars Journal claiming al Qaeda is being given too much credit for the violence in Iraq. In the article, titled "Al Qaeda in Iraq--Heroes, Boogeymen or Puppets?," Nance claims al Qaeda is but a bit player in the Iraqi insurgency and is largely controlled by the Baathist remnants of Saddam Hussein’s regime. To Nance, al Qaeda is both a U.S. Boogeyman and Baathist Puppet.

If taken seriously, these theories are likely to have a significant impact on the political battle over the war in Iraq as it is played out back here in the States. I took a look at the major points advanced by Nance and found his argument to be unpersuasive. Nance makes several factual errors and contradicts himself on several important points. And he fails to recognize the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq, the continually evolving nature of the Sunni insurgency and our understanding of it.

His theory that the insurgency is dominated by Baathist Former Regime Leaders (FRLs) was popular circa 2003-2004, and has long since been discredited. While Baathists and Former Regime Elements certainly play a role in the insurgency, their influence has diminished over time as al Qaeda and its puppet Islamic State of Iraq have coopted significant elements of the Sunni Insurgency.

al Qaeda by the numbers:
Finally, the numbers. Nance claims al Qaeda in Iraq has only 1,500 members. While this may be true for the number of foreign fighters inside Iraq, al Qaeda has successfully “Iraqified,” as was demanded by al Qaeda's senior leadership. Last fall Abu Ayyub al Masri, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq and the minister of defense in the Islamic State or Iraq, claimed to have over 12,000 fighters, with another 10,000 in training. He also admitted to taking over 6,000 casualties over the course of 2006. Even if we accept al Masri is spewing propaganda and inflating numbers, (though intelligence officials I spoke with take al Masri’s numbers seriously) al Qaeda in Iraq’s numbers are far greater than 1,500. Nance focuses on the foreign fighters at the exclusion of Iraqi members.

U.S. troops on the ground have an understanding of the difference between al Qaeda, local insurgents, criminals and the plight of the villages and cities in the grip of al Qaeda.

Read the rest. Senator Barbara Boxer should do the same.

In related al Qaeda-is-really-in-Iraq-news, the U.S. confirmed the Islamic State of Iraq is an al Qaeda front and that its leader does not really exist. The military has also discovered that Abu Omar al-Baghdadi is a "contrived entity." Hot Air and Pat Dollard have more on how al-Mashhadani, the captured al Qaeda leader, is "singing like a bird."

Add to this news the Assault on al-Qaeda strongholds:
Baghdad - Thousands of US and Iraqi troops launched a massive assault on al-Qaeda strongholds south of Baghdad on Monday in a bid to stem the flow of weapons into the Iraqi capital, the US military said.

Add more news that Marine General Peter Pace: US Weighs Larger 'Surge' in Iraq, and add the conviction of our troops, such as Major General "we're staying" Rick Lynch... and the picture for al Qaeda does not look very bright in the coming months.

But talk to DailyKos, or a Democratic Senator, and you'll just get an earful about a lost war, a civil war, and what the troop's families deserve. You won't hear about the real threat on the ground, and you certainly won't hear many stories about the bravery of our service men and women.

Instead, political excuses for an expedient exit will be bandied about, at the expense of Iraqi lives, the region's security, and American strategic interests.

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