Morale is slipping in Iraq. Fighters are growing doubtful of success. A comprehensive strategy for winning the conflict is nonexistent.
Is this an assessment of the U.S. military? No, it is an assessment about the insurgents who oppose the elected Iraqi government. While U.S. opinion polls show a growing number of Americans are pessimistic about the prosecution of the war, documents authored by an al-Qaida operative and seized by U.S. soldiers during an April 16 raid in the Yusufiyah area (12 miles south of Baghdad) offer hope to the American side that success may be closer than we think.
The author's name is not known, but his conclusion about the lack of progress by the insurgent-terrorists is revealing. In the translated documents released May 9, the al-Qaida operative says the insurgency is "disorganized and lacks a comprehensive strategy;" the Mujahidin are "not considered more than a daily annoyance" to the Iraqi government; the terrorists lack the proper equipment and have "very small numbers" compared to the personnel and equipment of the American and Iraqi forces; American and Iraqi troops are strong and resilient; American outreach to Sunni leaders is harmful to the terrorist cause; and "the policy followed by the brothers in Baghdad is a media-oriented policy."
This last one is of particular interest because it is a strategy specifically designed to shape American public opinion and reduce support for the war. The documents lament the lack of a "clear comprehensive plan to capture an area or an enemy center," the purpose of which would be to "show in the media that the Americans and the government do not control the situation and there is resistance against them. This policy dragged us to the type of operations that are attracted to the media, and we go to the streets from time to time for more possible noisy operations which follow the same direction."
From comments made by al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and others, we know the terrorists believe America will give up as it did in Vietnam, Lebanon and Mogadishu when a majority ceases to support an operation. This is the main strategy of the terrorists. The documents not only underscore that strategy, they reveal the terrorists' frustration in their inability to make it work beyond an occasional car bombing, attack on a police station or civilian gathering. This ought to further encourage Americans and Iraqis about which side is losing and which is winning.
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