THE MYTH OF AQI….REVISITED….In our October issue, Andrew Tilghman argues that al-Qaeda in Iraq is much smaller than popularly believed, accounting for only “2 percent to 5 percent of the Sunni insurgency.” Earlier this week, Gen. James Jones testified before Congress that even this is a high end estimate:
BAYH: Our intelligence services and other experts have indicated publicly that in their opinion about…two percent or fewer of the adversaries that we’re facing in Iraq and that the Iraqis are facing in Iraq are foreign jihadis or AQI affiliates, [and] 98 percent or more are Iraqis fighting amongst Iraqis for the future of Iraq. Is that consistent with your understanding?
JONES: I think we would agree with that. Yes.
AQI is a dangerous organization, but it’s time to stop pretending that they’re the main driver of violence in Iraq. They aren’t. They’re a small and unpopular group of fanatics who will almost certainly be wiped out whether we withdraw or not. AQI simply isn’t a good reason to stay in Iraq, no matter how many times President Bush manages to say their name in a single speech.