Monday, April 17, 2006

Has al-Qaeda Given Up in Iraq?

Last Friday, the Washington Times ran an article citing US Lieutenant General John Vines, the commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps who led all coalition forces in Iraq during 2005, who claims that "Al Qaeda in Iraq and its presumed leader, Abu Musab Zarqawi, have conceeded strategic defeat and are on their way out of the country." In a speech before the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, General Vines states that al Qaeda's failure to disrupt national elections and a constitutional referendum last year "was a tactical admission by Zarqawi that their strategy had failed," and that "they no longer view Iraq as fertile ground to establish a caliphate and as a place to conduct international terrorism."

A quick Google search indicates that no one else in the US government is talking in such terms. It's hard to believe that, given the current state (or lack thereof) of the Iraqi government, Zarqawi and al-Qaeda would pack up and leave. I'd like to hear more from US intelligence or other military commanders before I began betting on Vines' horse. Still, even hints and indications that things are going well in Iraq are welcome news.

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