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Iraq no longer "central front" (update)
Posted by: McQ on Friday, November 14, 2008

Well I should hope not, given our success and al Qaeda's dismal failure there:

CIA Director Michael V. Hayden said yesterday that al-Qaeda remains the single greatest threat to the United States but that Iraq is no longer the central front in the broader war on terrorism.
"Today, the flow of money, weapons and foreign fighters into Iraq is greatly diminished and al-Qaeda senior leaders no longer point to it as the central battlefield," Hayden told an audience at the Atlantic Council, a bipartisan group that deals with international affairs. But he warned that al-Qaeda remains "a determined, adaptive enemy" that is resilient and operating "from its safe haven in Pakistan's tribal areas."
Note carefully how Hayden worded that. AQ leaders "no long point to it as the central battlefied". Not US leaders. AQ had declared it as such years ago. They've now deemphasized Iraq and have shifted their fight to Afghanistan.

Reading reports from Iraq you see leaders there talking about the vastly diminished flow of money, foreign fighters and effort on the part of AQ in Iraq. What little violent activity going on there now is mostly driven by Shiites under the influence of Iran and ayotollah's supporting Iran.

AQ is down but not quite out in Iraq. The corpse spasms occasionally. But there is certainly no prospect of or hope for victory in Iraq by AQ. They're now "all in" in Afghanistan, the new "central front" for them. There they have an entirely different set of circumstances with which to work. They have an area of haven in Pakistan, a local ally in the Taliban with similar beliefs and tactics, a supportive population in some areas of Pakistan and little interference from Iran.

That, of course, makes it an entirely different fight. Adaptation is the key to winning in these situations. With GEN Petraeus now in command of the effort in both Iraq and Afghanistan, look for him to attempt to apply some of the lessons learned in Iraq to Afghanistan as well as adapting new tactics which will be unique to the Afghan situation.

UPDATE: Via Scott at Flopping Aces this interesting find which calls into question a couple of existing myths about pre-invasion Iraq:
Charles "Sam" Faddis, who led a CIA team into northern Iraq following the 9/11 attacks, says the Pentagon's "endless planning and delays" foiled a chance to wipe out a band of al Qaeda leaders who were fleeing American bombs in Afghanistan.

Faddis says the delays, beginning in 2002, also facilitated the escape of some "key" al Qaeda figures, including terrorist scientists who were working on chemical and biological weapons.

"Some died, some are still on the run," Faddis said in a telephone interview Tuesday, following his appearance on NPR's Diane Rehm Show to promote a new book, Operation Hotel California: The Clandestine War Inside Iraq.

"The site was physically destroyed ... but certainly the research wasn't destroyed."
Naturally, this starts trickling out now.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

So congrats to us on victory?
Written By: shark
URL: http://
It’s not over until Scott Erb sings.
Written By: Bob
URL: http://
Why would AQ give up completely on Iraq? Once Obama’s in office, AQ can start bombing markets again and Obama would bring our military home in honor, er...defeat.
Written By: Nuclear
URL: http://
Well, this is good news. Unqualified good news.
"THE WAR IS OVER AND WE WON:" Michael Yon just phoned from Baghdad, and reports that things are much better than he had expected, and he had expected things to be good. "There’s nothing going on. I’m with the 10th Mountain Division, and about half of the guys I’m with haven’t fired their weapons on this tour and they’ve been here eight months. And the place we’re at, South Baghdad, used to be one of the worst places in Iraq. And now there’s nothing going on. I’ve been walking my feet off and haven’t seen anything. I’ve been asking Iraqis, ’do you think the violence will kick up again,’ but even the Iraqi journalists are sounding optimistic now and they’re usually dour."
Written By: Keith_Indy
Whatever happened to that Al-Qaida-Conquers-The-World plan that had ’drive the cowardly infidels out of Iraq and make it the capital of the new caliphate’ as Step 1?
Written By: Achillea
URL: http://
Whatever happened to that Al-Qaida-Conquers-The-World plan that had ’drive the cowardly infidels out of Iraq and make it the capital of the new caliphate’ as Step 1?
It has been recalled by the publisher and is in major revision.
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