Thousands of Iraqis are finally returning, lured by news of lessening bloodshed in Baghdad and increasingly unwelcome in the neighboring lands where they tried to escape the war. Although they’re scarcely a fraction of the roughly 2.2 million who have fled into exile since 2003, they represent a big shift: for the first time since the war began, more Iraqis seem to be re-entering the country than leaving. At the desert outpost of Al Waleed, the main crossing on the Syrian frontier, border police reported 43,799 Iraqis coming home in October—more than five times the number heading out, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Other statistics remain patchy at best, but the signs point toward home. “I can tell you this,” says Abdul Samid Rahman Sultan, Iraq’s minister of Displacement and Migration (the job title alone tells how bad the problem has been). “Flights from Syria are always full. Flights out are not.”
Longtime readers will know that I’m not a huge fan of Pat Buchanan for reasons that we explored in this post, amongst others, but in his new book, Buchanan really goes beyond the pale with this particular recommendation: A purge of neoconservative ideology and the “Cakewalk” crowd” from national power.
The Washington Times
Fort Huachuca, the nation’s largest intelligence-training center, changed security measures in May after being warned that Islamist terrorists, with the aid of Mexican drug cartels, were planning an attack on the facility.
“Diyala is a very different province now then when we assumed control in November of last year,” he said at a news conference, pointing to the rampant violence, lack of essential services and corruption issues that were dominant. “Today there is hope in Diyala.”
The Captain’s Journal
The insurgency and foreign fighters (Chechens, Africans, Western Chinese and others) had congregated in Fallujah in the spring of 2007. They were not only in complete control of Fallujah, but were using it to launch terrorist operations into Baghdad. The previous command had declared Fallujah “unwinnable.” Into this debacle came 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, initiating heavy kinetic operations from the outset to find and capture or kill the insurgents. Later, gated communities, biometrics, and concerned citizens neighborhood watch programs were implemented to restrict the access of the insurgents to the population. Governance was accomplished via a return to a concept implemented during the Saddam era: the Muktars, or area leaders/representatives. Tribal sheikhs were all but irrelevant in the most recent Fallujah operations. The Anbar narrative is complex and varied, and includes much more than a tribal leader “flipping.”
The Associated Press
Recently, even as the evidence of Iranian involvement has firmed, the number of EFP attacks has sharply declined. U.S. Maj. Gen. James Simmons said on Nov. 15 that Iran’s promises to Iraq’s government that it would stem the flow of weapons “appear to be holding up.” Why would Iran suddenly stop funding attacks? There are many theories and no certainty: Perhaps Iran felt it had made the point it could be dangerous. Maybe it wanted to stay on the Iraqi government’s good side. Perhaps it felt rival Sunni Muslims were so beaten down, it no longer needed to help fellow Shiites. Or perhaps Iran worried the U.S. might retaliate unless it eased off.
The outcome of the Annapolis Conference, which begins Tuesday and will last for three days, is pre-ordained: it will accomplish nothing, and will prove to be a complete waste of everyone’s time. The Conference is intended to bring the Arabs, Palestinians, the UN Security Council member states and Israel together to resolve issues on the way to the creation of a Palestinian state. The Palestinians do not want peace, however, their Arab allies do not want peace, and the Palestinians are in the midst of a civil war such that any nascent achievements from Annapolis will quickly be undone.
If things don’t go their way in Annapolis tomorrow at the Mideast Capitulation Summit, a Palestinian shopkeeper recommends that customers smash his souvenir mugs to bits – Demand “peace.” Threaten property destruction. If only mugs were the sole targets of their rage…