You expect this sort of talk from the Bush administration.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq faces an “extraordinary crisis”. Last year’s mass defection of ordinary Sunnis from al-Qaeda to the US military “created panic, fear and the unwillingness to fight”. The terrorist group’s security structure suffered “total collapse”.

But this is not the script from the latest press briefing in DC.

These are the words not of al-Qaeda’s enemies but of one of its own leaders in Anbar province — once the group’s stronghold. They were set down last summer in a 39-page letter seized during a US raid on an al-Qaeda base near Samarra in November.

The US military released extracts from that letter yesterday along with a second seized in another November raid that is almost as startling.

That second document is a bitter 16-page testament written last October by a local al-Qaeda leader near Balad, north of Baghdad. “I am Abu-Tariq, emir of the al-Layin and al-Mashahdah sector,” the author begins. He goes on to describe how his force of 600 shrank to fewer than 20.

“We were mistreated, cheated and betrayed by some of our brothers,” he says. “Those people were nothing but hypocrites, liars and traitors and were waiting for the right moment to switch sides with whoever pays them most.”

Given that, this pronouncement seems at odds with reality.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said twice Sunday that Iraq “is a failure,” adding that President Bush’s troop surge has “not produced the desired effect.”

“The purpose of the surge was to create a secure time for the government of Iraq to make the political change to bring reconciliation to Iraq,” Pelosi said on CNN’s “Late Edition.” “They have not done that.”

The speaker hastened to add: “The troops have succeeded, God bless them.”

If al Qaeda is having to regroup and has lost all this ground, then the Iraqi government does have “a secure time”, at least far more secure than it has been. If that’s her definition of success, I’d say the Surge has been quite successful.

That the Iraqis have had a tough time coming together and resolving differences is simply human nature in action. As I mentioned earlier, culture and tribalism can work against a shared national identity, both in Afghanistan and Iraq. It will take time, but we are giving them that time, successfully.

[tags]Iraq,al Qaeda,Afghanistan,Nancy Pelosi,terrorism[/tags]

Filed under: DemocratsDougIraqMiddle EastPoliticsWar

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