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What went wrong in Iraq - An al Qaeda perspective
Posted by: McQ on Wednesday, May 28, 2008

How about waaaay too many "involuntary martyrs"? According to the Strategy Page, there's a discussion taking place on AQ websites about why they've lost Iraq:
This defeat was not as sudden as it appeared to be, and some Islamic terrorist web sites have been discussing the problem for several years. The primary cause has been Moslems killed as a side effect of attacks on infidel troops, Iraqi security forces and non-Sunnis. Al Qaeda plays down the impact of this, calling the Moslem victims "involuntary martyrs." But that's a minority opinion. Most Moslems, and many other Islamic terrorists, see this as a surefire way to turn the Moslem population against the Islamic radicals. That's what happened earlier in Algeria, Afghanistan, Egypt and many other places. It's really got nothing to do with religion. The phenomenon hits non-Islamic terrorists as well (like the Irish IRA and the Basque ETA).
Or said another way, it is a common problem among terror groups. They lack the numbers and ability to successfully attack hardened sites and armed and trained troops. So they're reduced to finding other ways to make their presence both known and feared. That, of course, involves killing innocent civilians, or, as AQ calls them, "involuntary martyrs".

As you might imagine, that wears thin among the "involuntary martyrs" (and we think "collateral damage" is bad) very quickly. And the result was the loss of their base of support (in this case, the Sunni insurgents).

No base of support, no realistic chance to win. As the Strategy Page points out, it has been a reoccurring problem in other countries as well, and one, given their fanaticism and fundamentalism, they'll be unable to change. They haven't yet.

At some point, the population, given a viable alternative, makes a choice.

And that is the key - a viable alternative.

In this case the choice wasn't easy - it took a while for them to choose between what they see as the lesser of two evils. But they chose. And while AQ seems to think they can again "recover" the support of Sunnis, I don't think that is the case at all. What in the world have they to offer them?

They are terrorists. They offer nothing in terms of the peace the Iraqi people long for - and while it was a slow realization, the Iraqis have discovered we want to leave as much as they want us to leave. Not so with AQ.

But the Iraqi people only had a viable alternative because we have persisted despite our losses and continued to support and train the ISF.

The same sort of choice is happening now with the Mahdi Army. This time, however, it appears the choice has become easier to make and is taking place more quickly.

As for AQ, they're in the postmortem phase now concerning Iraq. They have been mostly destroyed there, the attacks down by 90%, their ranks decimated and those left trying to find a way out of the country. While there is no doubt that AQ will attempt to reorganize and try again in Iraq, I'd say their chances aren't good.

I'd love to see detractors of our effort in Iraq - those who told us we didn't have a chance of defeating AQ or succeeding in Iraq - address the AQ side of this and discuss why they are now mulling over what they obviously consider a defeat there.

Most likely, if attempted, we'd see denial as the primary avenue of argument. And while they were the first to hop on the admittedly early unfurling of the "Mission Accomplished" banner back in 2003, my guess is they'll not have a thing to say about the AQI announcement in 2006 that they had successfully established "Islamic State of Iraq", will they?

In fact, what this fight has demonstrated, if nothing else, is when engaged in an asymmetric war against terrorists, persistence pays and establishing a viable alternative to their rule is critical, but takes time, patience, and, unfortunately, lives. However, it can be done. It is an important lesson to learn. And, if Iraq continues to improve as it is now, we'll have it to point to as an example of how that is accomplished.
 
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How about waaaay too many "involuntary martyrs"?
I have always found it amazing that ’Slamo ’Splodey-dopes managed to introduce the idea of seeking martyrdom. Even more amazingly, the concept seems to have achieved some buy-in from the "street". And I always thought martyrdom was a when-all-else-fails tactic. Silly me.
 
Written By: CR
URL: http://
I guess it’s impossible for al Qaeda to learn drom the Israelis, but the "revenge" for Munich was taken with great care to make sure the "innocent" were not injured.

Now you can see why.
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
Re: "Mission Accomplished"

Even wikipedia has a more nuanced recollection of that here

Wed May 28 12:20:25 EDT 2008
 
Written By: anomdebus
URL: http://
Osama fell trap to the same problem the U.S. did in Viet Nam: he fought his last war (in his case, Afghanistan vs. the USSR).

A factor in asymmetric warfare is leveraging the local population as a force multiplier. When the opponent (e.g. U.S.) is seen as an oppressive occupier, efforts that are perceived as sympathetic to the local population and resistant to the occupiers are likely to gain support, provide cover, facilitate supply and provisions, and serve as a recruiting base for further manpower.

The lesson from Iraq on asymmetric models is that it takes more than occupation to facilitate local population support. Going back to the lessons of information warfare, it takes a significant perception by the locals that the occupier is an oppressive party that interferes with their belief system, lifestyle and values.

Al Quada erred in projecting its value system into the Iraqi populace. They also fought against a USSR-type occupying force. The take-aways for the U.S. are:

1. You must make it absolutely clear you will not leave until you’ve helped the local population secure the peace, and then will clearly go.

2. You must commit to visible acts of support for the local population.

Al Quada’s strategy pretty much falls apart given these conditions. About the only thing they can hope for now is a Democratic president to recharge their declining effort. More acts of terrorism only further reinforce global and local opinion that they’re a cause to be destroyed, not supported.
 
Written By: redherkey
URL: http://
The primary cause has been Moslems killed as a side effect of attacks on infidel troops, Iraqi security forces and non-Sunnis.
The primary cause of this primary cause was they attempted to engage in a conflict with infidel troops, ISF and non-Sunnis all at once.

If they had just attacked infidel and ISF troops they could have confined the deaths of innocent Moslems to those who were unfortunate enough to be killed in ’friendly martyr’ incidents and killed in responses by the state. These would have been minimal as both sides would have been attempting to minimise these casualties.

The Shia militia had no incentive to moderate their response or minimse casualties in response to AQ attacks upon Shia. Death toll rose and AQ as initiators were rightly blamed.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
I’d love to see detractors of our effort in Iraq - those who told us we didn’t have a chance of defeating AQ or succeeding in Iraq - address the AQ side of this and discuss why they are now mulling over what they obviously consider a defeat there.
1) Remedying a problem of ones own creation is not a cause for celebration. There is an AQ in Iraq only because the US invaded. Saddam was a Baathist. He hated AQ. Do you see any AQ in Syria? No. For the same reason.

What is your major malfunction? Oh yes - now I remember.

2) Those who opposed the occupation and big government socialism project that is our present situation in Iraq (why do wingnuts love big government projects imposed from above?) have long pointed out that AQ in Iraq was, is, and will always be a very tiny part of the problem there. Wingnuts are the ones who have long conflated AQinIraq with the larger Sunni insurgency and any other group opposed to the American presence.

Clueless. Completely clueless.
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
Sure, Saddam hated terrorists. That’s why so many were living in Iraq, or drawing blood money for killing infidels.

Tool.
 
Written By: SDN
URL: http://
If they had just attacked infidel and ISF troops they could have confined the deaths of innocent Moslems to those who were unfortunate enough to be killed in ’friendly martyr’ incidents and killed in responses by the state.
Their problem with that approach is that the infidel (and, increasingly) the ISF troops were very hard targets. Lob grenades at a dozen people in a market and you get a lot of blood and gore for the evening news without taking a scratch yourself. Lob grenades at a dozen Marines and they’ll kill you dead.
 
Written By: Achillea
URL: http://
Those who opposed the occupation and big government socialism project that is our present situation in Iraq (why do wingnuts love big government projects imposed from above?) have long pointed out that AQ in Iraq was, is, and will always be a very tiny part of the problem there. Wingnuts are the ones who have long conflated AQinIraq with the larger Sunni insurgency and any other group opposed to the American presence.
Clueless? That’s strange. Destruction of AQ in Iraq is the cornerstone of the Surge and the result, even for someone as dense as MK, is irrefutably positive. With the virtual destruction of AQ, the other elements of the population have fallen into line - the most recent being the Sadrists. One at a time the elements of Iraqi society have realized the quickest way for the US to leave is to stomp/stop the insurgency and restore the peace. And it is working. Clueless? Yeah, eveyone like MK on the left who continues to whine about Quagmire, Gloom & Doom, Another Viet Nam, and other Erbian surrender slogans. (H/T Arch)
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
Speaking of Al Qaeda, one wonders if these guys read The Odyssey.
 
Written By: Achillea
URL: http://
I’d love to see detractors of our effort in Iraq - those who told us we didn’t have a chance of defeating AQ or succeeding in Iraq - address the AQ side of this and discuss why they are now mulling over what they obviously consider a defeat there.
Have we succeeded in Iraq? Oh good. When are the troops coming home?

Why do you insist on conflating AQI and the rest of the problems in Iraq. Are there people who said we couldn’t defeat AQI? Or did they say that defeating AQI is insufficient and peripheral to building a political solution capable of governing Iraq. Which Iraqi factions have given up on their maximalist agendas? The Kurds? The Sunnis? Any of the Shia factions?
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
When are the troops coming home?
According to Petraeus, they’ll probably begin withdrawing troops in September.

Still not listening to him, are you?
Why do you insist on conflating AQI and the rest of the problems in Iraq.
What are you talking about? How am I conflating the defeat of AQI with "other problems"?
Are there people who said we couldn’t defeat AQI?
Do you wake up in a new world everyday such that you have know memory of what has been said in the past?

Of COURSE there were people who said we couldn’t defeat AQI. Where in the world have you been? You need to loosen up the filters and start listening a little better.
Or did they say that defeating AQI is insufficient and peripheral to building a political solution capable of governing Iraq.
In fact, they simply stated, "Iraq is lost" and that was the sum of their thoughts on the subject.
Which Iraqi factions have given up on their maximalist agendas? The Kurds? The Sunnis? Any of the Shia factions?
Which Iraqi faction is the latest to accept the Iraqi government as the legitimate government of Iraq - the Kurds, Shia or Sunni? All of them?

How about that.

Keep up Retief.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
September? Is that new since the desurge until July and then pause for 45 days plan?

Certainly the fact that the various players are willing to bide their time and not pursue their maximalist visions of Iraq too violently at the moment, and work with the government framework is a good thing. On the other hand, is that the Iraqi government that’s not willing to pay the "Sons of Iraq"? The legitimate government of Iraq that is an ally of Iran? Ahhh success, smells like Tehran.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
September? Is that new since the desurge until July and then pause for 45 days plan?
Uh, yeah ... like I said, keep up.
The legitimate government of Iraq that is an ally of Iran?
Ally or neighbor? Big difference.

Do allies go after the militia supported by Iran.

Here, do yourself a favor ... read this and perhaps you’ll understand the Iranian role a little better and what Maliki has been up to from someone who actually has been there and studied the problem, and unlike you, seems to have a grasp of the situation.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Didn’t you tell us at length how great the pause to assess would be? No longer operative?

I read your link. Very interesting. The Shia parties he claims are feeling pressure from their constituents to become less close to Iran, those are the parties in the Iraqi government. So yes, allies. Allies maybe feeling less friendly but still plenty allied.

How does one square H.R. McMaster’s suggestion that
I think there is a recognition within the offices of the Martyr Sadr as an example that if they don’t participate, they will be the big losers much like the Sunni Arab parties were big losers in January of 2005.
with Maliki’s efforts to prevent Sadr Current from participating in that political process?

Can you point to a single Shia leader who does not have a pet militia behind him?
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
Can you point to a single Shia leader who does not have a pet militia behind him?
Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Husaini al-Sistani.

Next?
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
You’re right about that one SShiell. Of course the fact that none of the political leadership fits the bill only strengthens my point.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
Of course the fact that none of the political leadership fits the bill only strengthens my point.
The political leadership doesn’t need a militia - they have the ISF. And from my perspective, the ISF has stood to post against the most feared militia, the Sadrists, and won. Who else is there to fear?
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://

 
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