Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Tide is Rolling in Iraq

Positive Developments Continue for Iraq

Can you feel the tide turning, rolling in?

The week’s news detailing the achievements of our troops, politicians finally accepting the success of our troops, Iraqi’s continuing to battle insurgents and Al Qaeda, the Iraqi government starting to act like a government, and other nations acknowledging their role in the fight against terrorists was nearly overwhelming. The record number of positive news stories for the week was indicative of the undeniable improvements in Iraq.

Multi-National Forces – Iraq reported on the improving situation in Baghdad. Army Major General Joseph Fil, the commander of the Multi-National Division in Baghdad noted the improved cooperation between the Iraqi people with his forces and away from terrorists. “We have found that throughout the city there is increasing distrust, fatigue and disillusionment by the population with al-Qaeda and Jaysh al-Mahdi (militia group),” he said. “There is a strong desire in the neighborhoods to turn away from them.”

The General also reported that “fewer innocent Iraqis are being murdered as a result of sectarian violence, and statistics show murders are at their lowest level since the beginning of surge operations.” He noted, “Markets that were once targets by indiscriminant killers are now safer and thriving…more and more Iraqis are turning from the ‘rule of gun’ to the ‘rule of law.’”

At home, Senators Hillary Clinton and Carl Levin acknowledged the success of our troops in Iraq, with expected caveats of course. Although Hillary lives on a carousel of ever-changing positions, at least she momentarily had something positive to say about the war on terror.

After a trip to Iraq, Democratic Representative Brian Baird from Washington, a staunch opponent of the war, acknowledged the success we’re having, and has actually come to share the same thoughts as others about the cost of defeat in Iraq. He expressed powerful sentiments about what he saw in Iraq and the implications for the future with comments like these in a Seattle Times newspaper column: “I am convinced by the evidence that the situation has at long last begun to change substantially for the better…strategies and facts on the ground have changed for the better…the fact is, the situation on the ground in Iraq is improving in multiple and important ways…Terrorist organizations will be emboldened by our departure…Progress is being made and there is real reason for hope. It would be a tragic waste and lasting strategic blunder to let the hard-fought and important gains slip away.”

Multi-National Forces – Iraq reported on the 27th on the economic progress being made. As the security situation has improved, the diplomatic and economic gains have followed. The State Department now has 29 Provincial Reconstruction Teams making “positive strides” in all 18 provinces. These teams help provincial governments develop a transparent and sustained capability to govern, increase security and the rule of law, promote political and economic development, and provide the administration necessary to meet the basic needs of the local population.

The same story noted the security situation, pointing out joint operations between coalition and Iraqi forces have doubled since this time last year and the number of attacks against civilians and security forces is at its lowest point since August of 2006.

A separate MNF-Iraq story covered the continuously improving cooperation between the sheiks and provincial government of the Salad Ad Din province in their efforts to rid the area of terrorists and insurgents. Other stories through the week discussed the improvements being made in electrical services and sewage treatment, as well as the reopening of Iraqi industries.

On Sunday, the BBC reported that Iraqi national leaders (Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish) signed a reconciliation agreement for areas in which they agreed they could accomplish solutions. Although somewhat symbolic in nature, it’s a step in the right direction toward communication and action for a government which is still learning the ropes of democracy and overcoming the animosities fueled under Saddam Hussein’s brutal regime.

France became reengaged, in a positive way, in the war. Her new foreign minister, as part of France’s newly elected conservative government, finally visited Iraq. As New York Post columnist Amir Taheri points out, this signals to Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, who have reopened their embassies in Baghdad, that they and the U.S. are not alone in working toward a stable Iraq and Middle East. It also sends a message to Al Qaeda and Iran that they have not succeeding in dividing western powers.

Frontline reports by the troops in military blogs like that of “Badgers Forward” also showed progress in Iraq. The soldiers at Badgers Forward noticed a change in their area which reflects the current situation and the positive outlook of the Iraqi’s. After a long time without, homeowners and shop keepers have started putting glass back in what were previously boarded up windows. If the people are finally willing to spend their money on glass windows again, it’s a pretty good sign that things are going well and that the Iraqi’s believe the trend will continue.

So many positive developments over the week are a signal that the tide is turning. Although I’m a Cornhusker for life, I feel like my friends from Alabama, shouting “roll tide!”

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