Sunday, March 7, 2010
Two Victories in the Long War
There were two major victories today in the Long War on Islamic Jihadism.
The lesser of the two, though perhaps, more satisfying, was the capture of Adam Ghaddan, aka Azzam the American, the media emir of Al Qaeda and an American Traitor. He's an American born convert to Islam who subsequently embraced a Jihadi Salafist ideology. While he may not have been privy to operations, it is likely that he knows the C2 of Al Qaeda in Pakistan and the ISI will likely be quite adept at interrogating the terrorist. Hopefully then, he can be returned to the United States to face the punishment for his treason.
The more important victory is Iraq. The Iraqis held their first national election since the Sunni-boycotted election of 2005. Initial reports indicate an electoral turnout higher than expected for the election. This is vital to ensure that the Sunni minority feels enfranchised and part of the New Iraq. The 2005 election left the Sunnis severely underrepresented and proved a boon for Al Qaeda and other Sunni Insurgent Groups.
Al Qaeda and Sunni Insurgent groups have to disrupt the elections in order to de-legitimize the current government by suppressing turnout. These groups will even target their co-religious. Yet, as Michael Yon documented during his time in Iraq, the Iraqi people, Sunni and Shi'a, have rejected the nihilistic ideology of Al Qaeda and its ilk.
Yet voters still came. In Azamiyah, Walid Abid, a 40-year-old father of two, was speaking as mortars landed several hundreds yards away. "I am not scared and I am not going to stay put at home. Until when? We need to change things. If I stay home and not come to vote, Azamiyah will get worse," he said.
Adamiyah is a Sunni neighborhood in Eastern Baghdad. It was once the heart of Al Qaeda in Baghdad but gave birth to the Sunni Awakening in the city and helped to drive out Al Qaeda.
No longer are we talking about where the violence will take Iraq. Now the conversation turns to the electoral consequences. Will Prime Miniter Maliki's Dawa Party follow up its success in the Provincial Elections of 2009 and continue to be Iraq's dominant political party? He's being challenged by a coalition of Shi'a parties with extensive ties to Iran. This coalition of religious Shi'a parties was repudiated in the Provincial election, will that carry over into the National Election? The more hopeful challenge is by the former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, a secular Shi'a who is leading a coalition of secular parties, both Sunni and Shi'a. Allawi's vision is the most hopeful for Iraq, but all three groups are seeking their vision of a new Iraq at the ballot box. That is a fundamental change that highlights how far Iraq has come.
President Obama praised the Iraqis for their courage. While President Obama would have left an Iraq awash in violence and without hope, he has as President, continued the work of his predecessor President Bush. Vice President Biden had the gall to argue that a peaceful Iraq will be one of the Obama Administration's greatest achievement. While Bush should get most of the credit, the Obama Administration saw the wisdom, despite what they campaigned on, to continue the course and for that, they deserve our thanks.