Emmett Tyrrell

Diyala, not surprisingly, is going the way of Anbar. In recent weeks, our troops mounted a deadly operation against al-Qaida, killing hundreds and capturing more. As in Anbar, local sheiks have come to our side, recognizing that we will leave their province a lot faster than victorious al-Qaida, and we will leave their lands in relative freedom.

Once again, a catalyst for the sheiks' cooperation was al-Qaida's brand of Sharia. Al-Qaida had brought in foreign judges, called muftis. Their punishment of transgressions committed by local residents included murdering children, often with public beheadings. "Loose" morals were also punished.

For instance, if a local was caught carrying tomatoes in the same bag as cucumbers, the bearer of such a lewd mix would be beaten or worse.

On a more amusing note, al-Qaida's muftis also seem to share our progressives' disapproval of tobacco. Their punishment, however, is even harsher. Any resident of Diyala found smoking in public or even sporting nicotine stains had his or her offending fingers chopped off. Not even New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has gone that far.

Now comes word that early this month our troops captured Khaled Abdul-Fattah Dawoud al-Mashhadani -- Abu Shahid, for short. Embarrassingly for him, he was nabbed on July 4. According to Brigadier Gen. Kevin Bergner, he is "believed to be the most senior Iraqi in the al-Qaida in Iraq network."

Some of the muftis captured in Baqubah were fleeing the city hidden in women's traditional dress. I wonder what Abu Shahid was wearing. Would it be considered cruel punishment to inflict a bag of tomatoes and cucumbers on him? What would Sen. Harry Reid say?

So now we are back to the Democrat-controlled Congress. Are its members going to allow our troops to continue their work at least up to the earlier agreed-upon September report? It looks today as though the Republicans are going to force them to. And what will happen if that report finds things turning our way in Iraq?

I would not be surprised to see the Democrats saying they had predicted victory all along. There is something amusingly oblivious about them. They are like Don Quixote, though less good-natured.

Emmett Tyrrell

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator and co-author of Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House.
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