House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared again on CNN's "Late Edition" program Sunday
that the troop surge in Iraq is a failure.
Ms. Pelosi's timing was unfortunate for what shreds remain of her credibility. Her
statement coincided with the release by U.S. forces in Iraq Saturday of the diary of
Abu Tariq, an al Qaida leader around the northern city of Balad. The diary was
captured in a raid in November. It apparently had been written the month before.
Abu Tariq once had nearly 600 fighters under his command, but his force has dwindled
to no more than 20. The chief reason for this, he wrote, was the decision of most
Sunni tribes to throw in with the Americans.
"There were almost 600 fighters in our sector before the Tribes changed course under
the influence of the so-called Islamic Army (Deserter of Jihad) and other known
believer groups," Mr. Tariq wrote in the beginning of his diary. "Many of our known
fighters quit and some of them joined the deserters."
"We were mistreated, cheated and betrayed by some of our brothers," Mr. 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."
Al Qaida attacks on the Sunni tribes have doubled since October, U.S. Army Maj.
Winfield Danielson told the Washington Post. But the capture of Mr. Tariq's diary
makes it even harder for al Qaida to make the comeback Mr. Tariq desires. He
provided detailed information including the names of key individuals about al
Qaida's support network, which is now being rolled up.
Mr. Tariq's pessimism was echoed in a long letter written by an al Qaida chieftain
that was captured in a raid in Samarra.
"(Al Qaida) is faced with an extraordinary crisis, especially in al-Anbar province,"
wrote this al Qaida "emir," who has not been named. "Al Qaida's expulsion from
Anbar created weakness and psychological defeat. This also created panic, fear and
an unwillingness to fight."
The Washington Post interviewed two al Qaida leaders in Anbar for a story which was
printed Feb. 8. One, Riyadh al-Ogaidi, said the number of al Qaida fighters in Iraq
has declined from about 12,000 last June to around 3,500 today. The U.S. military
says that in 2007, U.S. and Iraqi forces and their Sunni tribesmen allies killed
about 2,400 al Qaida members, and captured an additional 8,800 suspects.
Abu Ayub al Masri, the al Qaida leader in Iraq, has told his subordinates to cool
their thirst for revenge against their former colleagues. Mr. al Masri recognizes
that al Qaida's indiscriminate brutality is the chief reason why the Sunni tribes
have turned against the terror group.
"Dedicate yourself to fighting the true enemy only, in order to avoid opening up new
fronts against the Sunni Arabs," Mr. al Masri said in a Jan. 13 communique to his
There are only a few areas left in Iraq where al Qaida can attempt to reorganize in
relative safety. The biggest concentration is in and around Mosul, near the Syrian
border in northwestern Iraq (and to where Abu Tariq is thought to have fled), and in
the mountainous regions of northern Diyala province.
Al Qaida in Iraq is losing, but is not yet defeated. "The terror group possesses
enough capacity to conduct at least one mass casualty suicide attack per month,"
said Bill Roggio, whose Webzine, the Long War Journal, is the best source of
information for what's happening in Iraq. (On Sunday, an al Qaida car bomb killed
23 and wounded 39 at a market in Balad.)
It isn't only in Iraq where al Qaida's fortunes are waning. Islamist parties are
expected to get drubbed in Pakistan's parliamentary elections Feb. 18, Reuters
Osama bin Laden's popularity in Pakistan is plunging, the AP said in a story Monday.
It's down to 24 percent in a poll conducted last month, from 46 percent in August.
Backing for al Qaida fell from 33 to 18 per cent during the same period.
"That means the al Qaida has gone from being less popular than George Bush is in
America, to being less popular than Congress," the AP noted.
The decline in the popularity of the Islamists in Pakistan followed the
assassination by al Qaida of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, and a rash of
suicide bombings. Apparently Pakistanis are no more fond of people who blow them up
than Iraqis are. Ms. Pelosi should take note.