Thursday, December 06, 2007

Al-Qaida Revisited

The success of the Surge in Iraq has become evident as both U.S. troop casualties and Iraqi civilian deaths have decreased dramatically in recent months. The primary goal of providing better security to many parts of Iraq seems to be secure. Arming of local Iraqi tribes appears to be an even greater success in stemming local violence than the actual increase in U.S. forces. By all accounts it would seem that insurgent attacks are decreasing and Al-Qaida appears to be on the retreat.
This week, however, a senior defense official warned that the apparent defeat of Al-Qaida in Iraq could possibly lead to an increased focus by the terrorist organization on events taking place in Afghanistan. Considering that the Taliban has been gaining ground in most provinces around Afghanistan this comes as little surprise. The Taliban and Al-Qaida have always been close allies and it would seem perfectly reasonable to expect Al-Qaida to withdraw most of its forces back to Afghanistan to regroup for efforts in other parts of the world.
In response the U.S. government has proposed to follow the successful campaign in Iraq and also begin arming tribes in Afghanistan. Troop levels are to remain constant, however, as a direct request by the Marine general in Iraq for redeployment to Afghanistan has been denied by Robert Gates.
Considering the current situation in Afghanistan does it really seem like a good idea to arm the locals any further. It would appear that the country is already flooded with small arms as everyone and their brother belongs either to a local warlord militia or the Taliban. Furthermore does the denial for redeployment of Marine forces to the much more volatile Afghanistan mean abandonment of that conflict? Or perhaps the troop levels have nothing to do with the actual success of the surge? Perhaps Gates has realized that most of the surges success can be directly attributed to the rearming of Bathist who have become tired of Al-Qaida attacks. This would bode ill for the situation in Afghanistan as their are hardly any ex-military forces running around that are willing to take over security issues for the U.S. or NATO forces.

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