Day By Day

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Baghdad -- Carrots and Sticks, Carrots and Sticks

Mohammed at Iraq the Model has an interesting post regarding the ongoing anti-terrorist operations in Baghdad.
The Iraqi media was especially interested in PM Maliki's expected plan for reconciliation, talking about such a plan includes two sides closely related to the ongoing security operation, the first is a message telling that restoring security is not essentially through the use of force and that reconciliation is an important factor in building security and replacing bullets with talks. The second aspect falls in the category of shaking the lines of militants taking advantage from the hesitation of some groups following the successful strikes of the last several days.
In general and as a result of the Sunni participation in the government, these hesitant elements will have a good chance to leave weapons behind and join the political train by accepting the reconciliation invitation that pretty much resembles a pardon preceding a military crack down to deny the use of lack of such gesture as a pretext to continue the violent course by some militant groups.

The other announcement that received equally high coverage was that of the government's security adviser Mowafak al-Rubaie. While Maliki adopted the language of pardon, Rubaie adopted the language of confident force in addressing the extremists who cannot be negotiated with.
The simultaneous offer of pardons and the widespread crackdown on terrorist networks offers insurgents a clear choice. Enter the political process, or be hunted down. Reconciliation and force, carrots and sticks. Sounds like a good strategy to me.

Mohammed notes that this time, as opposed to earlier efforts, the government seems to be deadly serious about restoring order. Police manning checkpoints are actually searching vehicles, some local officials have been arrested [presumably on evidence secured when Zarqawi was taken down] and, most importantly, the public seems to approve.

One of the most significant things about this operation is that we did not see any serious rejection or opposition to it from any of the influential parties or clerics which indicates that there's a general desire to back this operation or at least let it pass without complications and accept it as a means to get out of the deteriorated security situation.
Maybe that's because this particular operation doesn't give an impression that it's directed against a certain segment or sect as the case would be if the operation was conducted in Najaf, Sadr city or Ramadi for example.

The current feeling in Baghdad is that the operation is in the benefit of everyone and this is a good advantage that should be used to achieve success.
Read it here.

Is this the turning point some have suggested? Who knows at this point? All I know is that the news for the past few weeks has been pretty good. The Zarqawi takedown, the completion of the new government, the exploitation of information captured in the Zarqawi mission, the government's apparently serious efforts at reconciliation, statements from Iran that the mad mullahs are finally willing to cooperate with the US in Iraq, and the apparent willingness of all major political and religious figures to either approve of or acquiesce in the crackdown on militants; all of these point in a positive direction.

And, perhaps most encouraging. The Bush administration and its few allies left in Congress have gone on the offensive, pinning the Democrats to the wall on their opposition to the war. And in response mainstream Democrats have fallen oddly silent [although the loons continue to croak their defiance]. All of this suggests that people with access to far more intelligence than does the public think that the war effort is trending well and are maneuvering to take advantage of or escape damage from a successful conclusion to the war. I began to note the change in tone a couple of months ago when officials returning from Iraq, both Democrat and Republican, were saying much more positive things about the situation than was the MSM. And, perhaps the best indicator was Hillary, who has access to more sources of information than any other member of Congress. She was refusing to condemn the war, despite building pressure from the loons.

Something was in the air even then. Now we are beginning to see what was brewing.

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