Saturday, August 02, 2008

What qualifies as 'Progress'...?

This, it would seem:

The leader of the Sunni insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq and several of his top lieutenants have recently left Iraq for Afghanistan, according to group leaders and Iraqi intelligence officials, a possible further sign of what Iraqi and U.S. officials call growing disarray and weakness in the organization.

Steve Schippert at NRO certainly believes so:

Read the entire article, as it is perhaps the most important dispatch from Iraq yet. It will prove to be the seminal report affirming the decisive disintegration of al-Qaeda in Iraq and confirmation that the insurgency in Iraq has collapsed.

There are reasons to be quite optimistic that this report is (and will hold to be) accurate. Conditions on the ground in Iraq for al-Qaeda are undeniably bleak, with no visible window for turnaround. The surge, a strategy that brought lasting security to Iraqis within their neighborhoods, emboldened Iraqis to stand in their own defense — an act that had equated to suicide until U.S. forces left their garrisons and made camp among the populations. And Iraqis are growing exponentially more self-confident. Al-Qaeda's future in Iraq holds diminishing returns, a reality not lost upon bin Laden and the global leadership holed up inside Pakistan.

Not only are foreign terrorist influx rates down to about 20 per month, as the Post notes, but al-Masri left with 15 other al-Qaeda leaders. If he had left simply to discuss strategy with an angry bin Laden and return, he would not have sapped the Iraqi theater of significant leadership and appointed an "interim" commander (likely with little expectation the "appointee" will survive). But he did.

Schippert seems to get a little ahead of the Post's actual report but, generally speaking, it sounds like there's good reason to think the insurgency--at least as we've known it to-date--is all but done for.

And that is a good thing...

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