When the U.S. Looks Strong
Some fruits of the surge:
The sewage-filled streets of Doura, a Sunni Arab enclave in south Baghdad, provide an ugly setting for what US commanders say is al-Qaeda’s last stronghold in the city. The secretive group, however, appears to be losing its grip as a “surge” of US troops in the neighbourhood — part of the latest effort by President Bush to end the chaos in Iraq — has resulted in scores of fighters being killed, captured or forced to flee.
“Al-Qaeda’s days are numbered and right now he is scrambling,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Stephen Michael, who commands a battalion of 700 troops in Doura. …
Progress with making contacts and gathering actionable information is slow because al-Qaeda has persuasive methods of keeping people quiet. This month it beheaded two men in the street and pinned a note on to their corpses giving warning that anyone who cooperated with US troops would meet the same fate.
The increased presence of US forces in Doura, however, is encouraging insiders to overcome their fear and divulge what they know. Convoys of US soldiers are working the rubble-strewn streets day and night, knocking on doors, speaking to locals and following up leads on possible insurgent hideouts.
Here’s a thought: why don’t we begin withdrawing our troops and post our time line for exit (read “retreat”) on every street corner? No doubt that will encourage informants to come forward at an even greater rate. Best we keep declaring that the situation on the ground is “deteriorating.”