THE ANBAR AWAKENING….Josh Patashnik has other problems with National Review’s latest editorial about Iraq, but it’s this passage that makes me want to bang my head against the wall:
The fact is that the surge is President Bush’s policy, and one that he implemented over the vociferous opposition of Democrats who thought the best strategy against al Qaeda in Iraq was to begin to leave. Now the surge has helped turn Sunni tribes against al Qaeda, advancing the goal that nearly everyone in the U.S. notionally shares of routing the terror group from Iraq.
Say it slowly: This. Is. A. Lie. The Sunni tribes began turning against AQI nearly a year ago. They did it on their own, not as part of any American military plan. They did it before the surge started. They did it before Gen. Petraeus was even a gleam in George Bush’s eye. Here’s the truth:
The turnabout began last September, when a federation of tribes in the Ramadi area came together as the Anbar Salvation Council to oppose the fundamentalist militants of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.
….The council sought financial and military support from the Iraqi and American governments. In return the sheiks volunteered hundreds of tribesmen for duty as police officers and agreed to allow the construction of joint American-Iraqi police and military outposts throughout their tribal territories.
….Beginning last summer and continuing through March, the American-led joint forces pressed into the city, block by block, and swept the farmlands on its outskirts. In many places the troops met fierce resistance. Scores of American and Iraqi security troops were killed or wounded.
….The fact that Anbar is almost entirely Sunni and not riven by the same sectarian feuds as other violent places, like Baghdad and Diyala Province, has helped to establish order. Elsewhere, security forces are largely Shiite and are perceived by many Sunnis as part of the problem. In Anbar, however, the new police force reflects the homogeneous face of the province and appears to enjoy the support of the people.
The Anbar Awakening is genuinely good news, but (a) it had nothing to do with the surge, (b) it’s happening only in homogeneous Sunni areas, and (c) it involves arming and training Sunni forces who are almost certain to turn against both us and the Shiite central government as soon as they’ve finished off AQI. Pretending otherwise is simply fraudulent.