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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Diary of defeat 


American soldiers have captured and released the diary of a local al Qaeda in Iraq emir. It is a record of defeat:

On Nov. 3, U.S. soldiers raided a safe house of the insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq near the northern city of Balad. Not a single combatant was captured, but inside the house they found something valuable: a diary and will written in neat Arabic script.

"I am Abu Tariq, Emir of al-Layin and al-Mashadah Sector," it began.

Over 16 pages, the al-Qaeda in Iraq leader detailed the organization's demise in his sector. He once had 600 men, but now his force was down to 20 or fewer, he wrote. They had lost weapons and allies. Abu Tariq focused his anger in particular on the Sunni fighters and tribesmen who have turned against al-Qaeda in Iraq and joined the U.S.-backed Sunni Sahwa, or "Awakening," forces.

"We were mistreated, cheated and betrayed by some of our brothers," Abu Tariq wrote. "We must not have mercy on those traitors until they come back to the right side or get eliminated completely in order to achieve victory at the end."

Commentary

One of the main goals of counterinsurgency is to reverse the cycle of mistreatment, cheating, and betrayal. The insurgency grows when this pattern prevails in the government, and it collapses when the population decides that it is more in their interests to cooperate with the government than the insurgency. (See my post on the "coercion/intelligence dilemma" for more exciting counterinsurgency discussion.) The diary is a nice bit of additional evidence, for those of you who need more, that the counterinsurgency strategy of the last year is working.

The military released Abu Tariq's diary because we are finally learning how to fight the information war:
The diary is the U.S. military's latest weapon in a concerted information campaign to undermine al-Qaeda in Iraq and its efforts to regroup and shift tactics. The movement remains strong in northern areas, and many American commanders consider it the country's most immediate security threat. In recent days, U.S. officials have released seized videos showing the Sunni insurgent group training children to kidnap and kill, as well as excerpts of a 49-page letter allegedly written by another al-Qaeda leader that describes the organization as weak and beset by low morale.

"It is important we get our story out," a U.S. military official said on condition of anonymity. "I firmly believe the information part of this conflict is as very vital as the armed element of it. . . . We don't want to lose that to al-Qaeda."

Minds are much more important than hearts, both to inspire cheating and betrayal in the enemy and sustain the will of the American electorate.

6 Comments:

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Feb 10, 10:42:00 AM:

"The diary is a nice bit of additional evidence, for those of you who need more, that the counterinsurgency strategy of the last year is working."

I would respectfully submit that a person who no longer needs additional evidence has closed their minds and rendered their opinion worthless. Having learned not to trust the MSM, I've also learned not to trust any news source. So yes, I need more evidence. As much as can be produced. Whether supporting the position that we are winning or not. More evidence is needed for me.  

By Blogger Cannoneer No. 4, at Sun Feb 10, 12:10:00 PM:

Cut & pastable version of the diary here.

al-Sahwah/The Awakening/CLC/Sons of Iraq peed in Abu's corn flakes. So they're doing good, now, even though they used to be Bad Guys. Some of them have killed American soldiers.

We turn who we can and use them on the hold-outs and hope they don't revert to being Bad Guys again.  

By Blogger Ray, at Sun Feb 10, 12:51:00 PM:

This is indeed nice to hear, but it's what I believe economists call a lagging indicator. Sadly, as far as I know, we really are lacking in leading indicators for what's happening in Iraq, and such ones as we do have are more confusing than not.

Such blogs as I do read suggest that the Iraqi government remains mired in corruption and incapable of delivering even the most minimal social services. Coupled with high unemployment, and this suggests that there's an immense well of discontent and potential for any movement opposed to the status quo to exploit.

Fortunately, it seems like Al Qaeda's reputation is keeping it from effectively doing so. Al Qaeda is evil, but from a certain perspective, a less evil enemy would be a far more effective. And given time, such a movement may yet emerge.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Feb 10, 04:54:00 PM:

"Such blogs as I do read suggest that the Iraqi government remains mired in corruption and incapable of delivering even the most minimal social services."

That is a pretty handy description of almost all of the Middle East.

Though Iraq has surpassed its pre-war petroleum and electrical production.  

By Blogger Gary Rosen, at Mon Feb 11, 03:54:00 AM:

"...the Iraqi government remains mired in corruption and incapable of delivering even the most minimal social services."

Yeah, that Saddam he made the trains run on time.  

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