Nothing from our MSM on this story, which I’m sure will surprise no one:
U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said on Wednesday that the
biggest American division is to withdraw from Iraq by December 2007.
The withdrawal of more American troops is to take place next
February and March, provided that security conditions continue to
“The largest American unit in Iraq will start withdrawing by
December 2007, if security improves significantly. More units are to
pull out next February and March” Gates said in a joint press
conference with Abdel Qadir al-Ubaidi, his Iraqi counterpart.
180,000 U.S. soldiers are currently stationed in Iraq since U.S.
President George Bush announced a surge in the level of U.S. troops
stationed in Iraq in early 2007.
In fact the only story at CNN on Iraq I could find is this headline:
Petraeus notes violence drop, foresees more ‘tough work’
The Politico is reporting that Cheney is “fairly confident” on Iraq:
Vice President Cheney today predicted Iraq will be a self-governing democracy by the time he leaves office, calling the current U.S. surge strategy “a remarkable success story” that will be studied for years to come…
“I am fairly confident we’ll have [Iraq] in a good place, where we’ll be able to look back on it and say, ‘That was the right decision. It was a sound decision going into Iraq,'” Cheney told us in a 40-minute White House interview.
Sounding a note of caution, the vice president said: “We’ve got a lot of work to do. We’re sort of halfway through the surge, in a sense. We’ll be going back to pre-surge levels over the course of the next year.”
But Cheney said that by the middle of January 2009, it will be clear that “we have in fact achieved our objective in terms of having a self-governing Iraq that’s capable for the most part of defending themselves, a democracy in the heart of the Middle East, a nation that will be a positive force in influencing the world around it in the future.”
And suddenly Iraq has fallen off the radar screens of our MSM.
Omar at Iraq The Model:
The government cracked down on the Association of Muslim Scholars, an organization of Sunni clerics sympathetic to al-Qaeda and believed to have even been involved in leading, funding and hosting insurgent groups that have been responsible for countless attacks against Iraqis and Americans alike.
Unlike previous operations, this one is different in that the troops were sent following a request submitted to the government by the department of Sunni endowment, an entity in charge of overseeing Sunni mosques and other religious activities. The chief of the Sunni endowment, Sheikh Ahmed Abdul Ghafour Samarraie, is a moderate Sunni cleric who has renounced the insurgency and explicitly accused the association of assisting al-Qaeda by justifying their murderous attacks against Iraqis.
For four years now we’ve been waiting for this to happen. This al-Qaeda apologist, so-called association of Muslim scholars had to be dealt with and honestly it was frustrating to see them operate freely when the damage they caused was widely known, in nature if not in extent.
This incident, I believe, is not to be seen as abstract and it’s no coincidence that the raid on their office came amid efforts to prosecute corrupt officials from Sadr’s movement and the Fadheela Party. The list includes the former deputy minister of health, a Sadr follower who’s been accused of running sectarian death squads and the chief of the integrity committee in the parliament; a member of the Fadheela Party which is believed to be involved in massive oil smuggling operations in the south. He is now about to lose parliamentary immunity over corruption charges.
The interesting thing indeed is that the officials who are leading this campaign and rose to challenge the Sadrists and the association are from their respective sects and regions.
On Nov. 26, Khalif Haloos of the Sadr al Yusifiyah Nahia Governance Council hosted more than 500 sheiks from Sunni, Shi’a and Kurdish tribes. Also in attendance were Coalition Forces from the 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), who were the invited guests of the Iraqis who organized the meeting. Security for this meeting, the largest of several important reconciliation gatherings in MND-C in recent days, was provided by the Iraqi Security Forces.
“This meeting was an example of Sunnis and Shias working together,” said Col. Dominic Caraccilo, commander of 3rd BCT, 101st Abn. Div (AASLT). “The ISF took the lead in providing security for the meeting, and we had representation from all the key players in that area. That dynamic, coming from the local level, could be an example for the national government.”
Another meeting was held Dec. 1 on the other side of MND-C at Forward Operating Base Hammer, east of Baghdad. Iraqi civic and tribal leaders in attendance offered frank assessments of their needs and asked U.S. and Iraqi officials for continued support with stabilization efforts.
Col. Wayne Grigsby, commander of the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, said after the meeting, “I’ve spent 35 months of my life in Iraq, and this is the best I’ve ever seen it.” He noted, however, that there remain opportunities to synchronize U.S. and Iraqi efforts.
On Nov. 28, the 1st Battalion, 10th Field Artillery, 3rd HBCT, 3rd Inf. Div. opened a new medical clinic in Narwhan after the project was approved by Iraq’s Ministry of Health. As a signal of its commitment to the initiative, the ministry hired three doctors to work at the facility, two of whom are female.
The following day, the 1-10th FA conducted a school bag and bottled-water drop in Sabah Nisan. School children there received 180 school bags and 3,500 cases of water, distributed by the Concerned Local Citizens.
On Nov. 26, the Al-Wehda Nahia council celebrated with Iraqi and Coalition Forces the completion of a well system in al Sadiq. The system includes water pumps, storage tanks, a generator and quarters for a caretaker. The project was a joint effort by local Iraqis and Coalition Forces.
Finally, on Nov. 28, Iraqis celebrated the graduation of a class of small businessmen from an entrepreneur training program in the Mada’in Qada. The program helps develop business skills and planning among local business owners and then provides them with micro-grants to revitalize their businesses. As part of the program, U.S. military and civilian officials assess the proposals of the Iraqi graduates and award grants of up to $10,000 to eligible candidates.