25 Aug 2007

Al Qaeda Begins Counteroffensive in Iraq

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Bill Roggio reports, in the Weekly Standard, that Al Qaeda has begun a major effort to supply the headlines needed by its allies in the MSM to achieve the decisive demoralization of US public opinion required to give Congressional democrats a safe opportunity to defund US military operations in Iraq and compel withdrawal.

Al Qaeda in Iraq has ramped up its attacks against Iraqi civilians and Iraqi and U.S. security forces over the past 48 hours. The effort demonstrates that al Qaeda in Iraq still possesses the capacity to launch a counteroffensive to the ongoing U.S. and Iraqi operations and is seeking to influence the upcoming debate in the U.S. Al Qaeda in Iraq has launched its version of the Tet Offensive.

Over the past several days, al Qaeda in Iraq conducted five high-profile attacks against Iraqi and U.S. targets. Four out of five of the attacks occurred outside of Baghdad–two in Diyala province, two in Salahadin province. Three of the attacks were conducted with suicide bombers, the other two attacks were conducted as infantry-type assaults. …

U.S. generals have warned that violence is very likely to rise as al Qaeda in Iraq and other extremist groups attempt to sabotage General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker’s presentation on the state of progress in Iraq. Al Qaeda will attempt more spectacular attacks in an attempt to grab headlines and break the will of the American public and political elites.

The next several weeks will display both al Qaeda’s capacity for terror strikes as well as the short-term results of the counterinsurgency plan instituted just eight months ago. As the past few days show, al Qaeda can still pull off spectacular attacks. But it should be noted that only one of these five strikes occurred inside Baghdad, and two were retaliatory strikes for local Iraqis turning against al Qaeda. A failure by al Qaeda to maintain a sustained offensive would speak volumes about the terror group’s current abilities.

Al Qaeda’s attempts to ramp up the violence in the short term and affect the debate in the U.S. may very well be unsuccessful, if recent statements from U.S. Democratic Congressmen are any indication. And these brutal assaults are only serving to turn the population against al Qaeda in the long term. Al Qaeda conducted similar suicide and infantry attacks in Anbar province in the spring of this year, only to see that province, which was once the most violent in Iraq, turn on the terror group.

The Pentagon is predicting further headline-grabbing attacks. IOL:

A senior US general warned on Thursday of “sensational” attacks during the upcoming Ramadan period in Iraq directed at swaying perceptions of a key upcoming US report on progress in the war there.

Brigadier General Richard Sherlock, deputy director for operational planning for the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that insurgents are likely to attempt to make use of the coincident sixth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, the onset of Ramadan, and the much-awaited US progress report to accelerate attacks in Iraq.

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