With Al Qaeda Down… Baghdad Makes Plea To US Not to Surrender
A Baghdad plea: U.S. should stay and fight
I wasn’t surprised when I saw Al Qaeda’s second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, appear on Al Jazeera to announce America’s defeat last week, not long after U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid did. Zawahiri claims Al Qaeda has won, and Reid claims America has lost.
But from here in Baghdad, I see only a war that’s still raging – with no victory in sight for Al Qaeda or any other entity. In fact, I see Al Qaeda on the ropes, losing support among my fellow Iraqis.
In the midst of such a fierce war, sending more wrong messages could only further complicate an already complicated situation. It would only create more of a mess inside Iraq – a mess that would then be exploited by Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia for their own purposes: more iron-fisted control of the peoples and treasures of the region, more pushing the Middle East to crises and confrontations, and more spreading of their dark, backward ideologies.
And so, as an Iraqi, I say without hesitation: the American forces should stay here, and further reinforcements should be sent if the situation requires them. Not only that, these forces should be prepared to expand their operations whenever and wherever necessary to strike hard at the nests of evil that not only threaten Iraq and the Middle East, but seek to blackmail the whole world in the ugliest way through pursuing nuclear weapons.
It is up to us to show tyrants and murderers like Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah, Syria’s Bashar Assad, and their would-be imitators who seek to control Iraq’s people and wealth that we, the people, are not their possessions. They can’t take out our humanity and they can’t force us to back down.
The cost of liberating Europe in the last century was enormous in blood and treasure. In fact, it took half a century of American military presence thereafter to protect those nations from subsequent threats. If that made sense during a Cold War, and it did, then I don’t understand why anyone would demand a pullout from Iraq (and maybe later, the entire Middle East) when the enemies are using every evil technique, from booby trapped dead animals to hijacked civilian aircrafts, to kill innocents.
Mohammed is not the only one begging America to stay in Iraq…
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari pleaded with America to not abandon his country this week.
Last weekend a traffic jam several miles long snaked out of the Mansour district in western Baghdad. The delay stemmed not from a car bomb closing the road but from a queue to enter the city’s central amusement park. The line became so long some families left their cars and walked to enjoy picnics, fairground rides and soccer, the Iraqi national obsession.
Across the city, restaurants are slowly filling and shops are reopening. The streets are busy. Iraqis are not cowering indoors. The appalling death tolls from suicide attacks are often high because of crowding at markets. These days you are as likely to hear complaints about traffic congestion as about the security situation. Across Baghdad there is a cacophony of sirens from ambulances, firefighters and police providing public services. You cannot even escape the curse of traffic wardens ticketing illegally parked cars.
These small but significant snippets of normality are overshadowed by acts of gross violence, which fuel the opinion of some that Iraq is in a downward spiral. The Iraqi people are indeed suffering tremendous hardships and making grave sacrifices — but daily life goes on for 7 million Baghdadis struggling to take back their capital and country.
So why should the world remain engaged in Iraq?
There is no denying the difficulties Iraq faces, and no amount of good news can obscure the demons of terrorism and sectarianism that have risen in my country. But there is too much at stake to risk failure, and everything to gain by helping us protect our hard-won democratic achievements and emerge as a stable, self-sustaining country.
We remain determined in spite of our losses. Spectacular attacks may dominate foreign headlines, but they cannot change the reality that Iraq has made steady political, economic and social progress over the past four years. We continue to strengthen our nascent democratic institutions, pursue national reconciliation and expand Iraqi security forces. The Baghdad security plan was conceived to give us breathing space to expedite political and economic development by “securing and holding” neighborhoods across the capital. There is no quick fix, but there have been real results: Winning public confidence has led to a spike in intelligence, a disruption of terrorist networks and the capture of key leaders, as well as the discovery of weapons caches. In Anbar province, Sunni sheikhs and insurgents have turned against al-Qaeda and to the side of Iraqi security forces. This would have been unthinkable even six months ago.
Hat Tip Andy Stewart