Friday, November 30, 2007

Elevation of Chaldean patriarch highlights plight of Iraqi Christians Catholic News Service. Nov. 24, 2007:

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- When Pope Benedict XVI placed a red hat on Cardinal Emmanuel-Karim Delly of Baghdad during a Nov. 24 consistory in St. Peter's Basilica, he was honoring not just the patriarch of the Chaldean church, but was elevating the plight of Iraqi Christians to the world's attention.

The pope "told me 'I hope this gesture will be a sign of reconciliation not only among the people, but especially among Sunnis, Shiites and Christians, because Iraq is a country dear to me,'" the patriarch told reporters during a Nov. 23 press conference after a meeting of cardinals and cardinals-designate with the pope.

During the Nov. 24 consistory, Pope Benedict said in his homily that elevating the Chaldean leader was a way of "concretely expressing my spiritual closeness and my affection" for Iraq's Christian minorities.

"They are experiencing in their own flesh the dramatic consequences of an enduring conflict and now live in a fragile and delicate political situation," the pope said.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Something To Be Really Thankful For, Max Boot @ Commentary:

On Thanksgiving 2006 there were 126 enemy attacks across Iraq and 26 of them were “effective,” meaning they caused injuries or damaged buildings, vehicles, or other infrastructure. Six months later, attack levels were virtually unchanged: May 22 saw 122 attacks, 35 of them effective. And then came the big turn: On Thursday, there were 53 attacks and only 18 of them were effective—drops from a year ago of 58 percent and 31 perecent respectively.

Baghdad, which had been the primary center of violence on November 22, 2006, and May 22, 2007, no longer had that distinction on Thursday: It saw only 10 attacks (half of them effective), compared with 37 in northern Iraq (less than a third of them effective). It’s still cause for concern that the violence level remains so high in the north, but it is cause for celebration that Baghdad is becoming so peaceful. Given that it is the capital of the country, improvements are more significant politically if they occur there than in the provinces.

Perhaps the most jaw-dropping result was the change that occurred not in Baghdad, however, but in Anbar Province, which saw 28 attacks (seven of them effective) a year ago and none—repeat none—yesterday.

Those are the kinds of results that should make us grateful to the hard work of the soldiers in Iraq, not only Americans but Iraqis and other coalition partners, and to their commanders in Baghdad and Washington who had the wisdom to implement a new strategy after it became apparent that the old one was failing.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Bill Roggio: Sunni clerics turn on Association of Muslim Scholars

Sunni clerics turn on Association of Muslim Scholars, by Bill Roggio. The Long War Journal November 17, 2007:

Wednesday's closure of the headquarters of the Association of Muslim Scholars at the Umm al Quraa mosque marks a dramatic shift in the Sunni religious establishment. Prominent Sunni clerics, who once supported, justified, or remained silent about al Qaeda's terror tactics, have now turned on the leading Sunni religious establishment that supports al Qaeda in Iraq.

On November 14, Iraqi soldiers surrounded the headquarters of the Association of Muslim Scholars after Sheikh Ahmed Abdul Ghafour al Samarrai, the leader of the Sunni Religious Endowments, or Waqf, ordered the mosque's closure. "The association has always justified killing and assassinations carried out by al Qaeda," Samarrai said the day the troops shut down the Umm al Quraa mosque.

Samarrai's criticism of the Association of Muslim Scholars was pointed. He accused the Association of collusion with al Qaeda in Iraq and held the group responsible for the murder of Iraqi Sunni and Shia alike. . . .

Sunday, November 04, 2007

  • Iraqi Islamic Party: “Al Qaeda is Defeated” Michael Yon. November 1, 2007:
    “Al Qaeda in Iraq is defeated,” according to Sheik Omar Jabouri, spokesman for the Iraqi Islamic Party and a member of the widespread and influential Jabouri Tribe. Speaking through an interpreter at a 31 October meeting at the Iraqi Islamic Party headquarters in downtown Baghdad, Sheik Omar said that al Qaeda had been “defeated mentally, and therefore is defeated physically,” referring to how clear it has become that the terrorist group’s tactics have backfired. Operatives who could once disappear back into the crowd after committing an increasingly atrocious attack no longer find safe haven among the Iraqis who live in the southern part of Baghdad. They are being hunted down and killed. Or, if they are lucky, captured by Americans.

    Colonel Ricky Gibbs, the American brigade commander with responsibility for the Rashid District in south Baghdad today told me, “So goes South Baghdad goes Baghdad.” General Petraeus had told me similar things about the importance of South Baghdad. In fact, Rashid is quickly developing into what might be one of the final serious battlegrounds of the war.

    During the meeting, another member of the Iraqi Islamic Party said that al Qaeda has changed its strategy now that fomenting civil war between Sunni and Shia has backfired. Al Qaeda has shifted targets, now trying to generate friction between tribes. This time, however, the tribes are onto the game early, and they are not playing.

  • Concerned Citizens fend off attack, Iraqi Army Mechanized Company Slams the Door MultiNationalForce-Iraq:
    Coalition forces saw a possible glimpse of the future in Hawr Rajab recently, when they observed Concerned Local Citizens (CLC) at a checkpoint come under attack from insurgents, defend themselves, and then receive reinforcements from Iraqi Army troops, Oct. 31.
  • The Real Iraqi Miracle: Opting for tolerance, by Dean Barnett. Weekly Standard October 31, 2007:
    ... the greatest progress hasn't been on the military front, impressive as those strides have been. The real breakthrough has been with the Iraqi people. Throughout Iraq, Iraqi citizens have decided that the fighting must end. They have tired of the sectarian strife that made swaths of their country a killing field. Having sampled something that could be called a civil war, they have collectively decided that they would rather live in a peaceful society. This means that each sect will have to tolerate the other sects' presence.

    Throughout Iraq, ordinary citizens have tipped off American troops to the presence of not only al Qaeda forces but members of their own sect bent on violence. They have also tipped off American troops to the presence of hundreds of IEDs, saving countless American lives. And they have done all of this knowing that they were risking death by doing so.

    Although grassroots politics in America is of a less perilous sort, this too is a form of grassroots politics. Ordinary people have involved themselves with the fate of their nation, and made an enormous difference. While the Iraqi government remains mostly dysfunctional and enmeshed in squabbling, the Iraqi people have chosen the course their country will take.

  • Inconvenient Civilians IraqPundit. Nov. 4, 2007:
    Recently, I've been puzzled by the reactions of friends or colleagues who ask after my family in Baghdad. When I reply that the relatives say things are getting better, I hear: "Better than what?" I also get strange looks and laughter. So, I remain quiet.

    In a way, I can't blame them. Most friends and colleagues get their information from rented experts (whether American or Arab) who know nothing about Iraq. And stories such as this get little play in the media.

    The Associated Press reports: "In a dramatic turnaround, more than 3,000 Iraqi families driven out of their Baghdad neighborhoods have returned to their homes in the past three months as sectarian violence has dropped, the government said Saturday." . . .