A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The surge is working

I had noticed a lack of news from Iraq in recent months.

Tucked away on page 20 of today's Guardian we discover why. The US "surge" in troop numbers is actually working. Much deried by anti-war activists, it turns out that there actually was a military solution to the terrorism and sectarian violence in Iraq.

In Simon Tisdall's article we learn that:

  • Iraq's government is optimistic because of "Improved security, an expanding economy and new understandings with Iran, Syria and Turkey"
  • The Iraqi National Security Adviser believes "We are out of the woods ... We are building a new Iraq under a democratic parliamentary system. There is a new sense of belonging in Iraq" ... "Iraq is going to lead the region in a new way, with democracy and a new nationalism and a western orientation" ... "Our strategic direction is very clear to everybody in the region. We are heading west".
  • "Senior US officials advising the Baghdad government say they, too, are increasingly hopeful about current trends, while adding the usual caveats about fragility of the security environment and deep-rooted political animosities. They say infiltration of jihadis from Syria has measurably declined, as has some of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's more objectionable pot stirring. "
  • "Civilian deaths are down 60% across Iraq, and down 75% in Baghdad, since the US military surge began in February."
  • " a key reason for recent progress is the Sunni Arab Awakening movement in Anbar and other provinces, where tribal leaders have turned against al-Qaida. On the other side of the sectarian divide, the ceasefire by Moqtada al-Sadr's Shia Mahdi army, and a largely unpublicised US operation to clean up the interior ministry, have also been crucial."
  • "a senior Iraqi adviser to the country's leadership who asked not to be identified said he believed the past few months had brought changes that were irreversible."

Now why isn't this cautious good news being reported more prominently? Could it be because it contradicts the doom-laden narrative that is received wisdom about Iraq?


Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

I admire your optimism and I would agree with you from what we are hearing on the field things look like they are improving. Ofcourse this still does not justify the war. That said soldiers and iraqi civilians are still being killed in Iraq and people are being kidnapped. Most of the families of whom this story rings hollow. If the hopeful news continues there could be peace in Bagdad in 2 maybe less years time. You must forgive the cynic in me however, I still feel we are on a knife edge and it could go either way.

9:40 am, December 12, 2007

Anonymous Ted Harvey said...

Or is that that the reality is here we are again with another false dawn, or supposed turning the corner or whatever. This surge has impacted on the horrific levels of violence only because the USA has bartered with the devil in allowing one pack of gangsters and terrorists to become the 'good guys' and therefore be allowed to kill and terrorise the others. Moreover, don't surges by definition subside, what then? - the cycle will be replenished and go on.)

To quote the Iraqi National Security Advisor as though he was some sort of objective, measured and authoritative figure is little less than pathetic. I note that the super optimistic “senior Iraqi adviser to the country's leadership” is nevertheless so, rightly, still terrified that he asks “not to be identified”.

The 'new understandings' with Syria etc. have been obtained (if they actually have) by the USA abandoning all of its previous demands and threats in the face of defeats in Iraq a weakened international position and a discredited President.

Let's not take our eye off the ball. We went into to invade Iraq on the basis of lies from our Prime Minster Tony Blair, and probably on the basis of illegality. Our arrival opened the floodgates of unheralded terrorism and bloodletting... and massive institutionalised corruption and torture on the part of the USA companies and forces.

Meantime the UK has become less safe, less liberal and with less moral authority in the world. And it will be dumped on by the USA in the not to far distant future when it suits the USA's own interests and regardless of the interests of the UK after all our spent treasure and blood - thank you Tony Blair for the legacy.

Meantime, as the current tragedy in Algeria demonstrates the original lie in going into Iraq completely omitted the supposed target of Al Quada which may even now have reformed and be recovering its global capacity. This latter point point is the true story Luke – not some silly enforced ‘cautious optimism’ about a non-existent real improvement in one geographical disaster zone we created.

1:08 pm, December 12, 2007

Blogger Left Lib said...

Oh dear, that was badly timed!
The history of Iraq since 2003 is a one of false dawns. Whether it is a surge or an invasion, the US military cannot be matched.
But when Blair spoke prior to the invasion that Iraq would become a "beacon" of democracy and prosperity that the surrounding countries would wish to emulate, that was certainly a delusion.
Today the hoped for outcome is that the occupying troops will leave and that Iraq will be stable enough to continue as a democracy. But that is unlikely. The Sunnis have effectively lost political power to the Shia, and will fight for it back again, despite being outnumbered. Iran has been the unintended main beneficiary of this war, whilst the Kurdish region has destablelised Turkey, bringing the country close to war.
When the troops leave, it is hard to imagine Iraq remaining a democracy for long. The army and policy are infiltrated by private armies, and religious fundamentalists and criminals bring everyday terror to the people in many parts of the country.
Have no doubt, Blair will go down in history with Bush as the men who leader the disasterous war in Iraq.
I am curious. Despite all that has happened, do you still think invading Iraq was a good idea?

3:16 pm, December 12, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...


Saddam may not have had WMD but he might have got them by now if we hadn't invaded.

If we hadn't done it in 2003 we would probably be invading now.

3:42 pm, December 12, 2007

Anonymous observer's friend said...

Akehurst wrote:
"Saddam may not have had WMD but he might have got them"

He DID have WMD, namely poison gas. And who supplied Saddam with this - and other weapons?

Answer: You, Akehurst - and your friends.

What a hypocrite you are, Akehurst!

4:26 pm, December 12, 2007

Blogger Chris Paul said...

What we don't learn:

US forces are allegedly now paying militias that used to attack them to help them pacify the place.

THAT is the big difference. And is that sustainable? Probably not.

4:48 pm, December 12, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Observer's Friend,

a) anti-war people usually say he didn't have the gas any more by 2003, make your mind up!

b) the UK supplied about 10% of Iraqi arms in the 1980s - the main suppliers were France and Russia

c) the UK supplied conventional kit not WMD

d) the Government in question was a Tory one led by Mrs Thatcher. I am not a Tory nor are my political friends. Surely even you aren't so obtuse you hold Labour responsible for the dealings of the previous Tory government?

5:23 pm, December 12, 2007

Blogger Chris Paul said...

So are you saying that the Labour government are not helping sell arms or cheering their sales to any dodgy regimes?? Is that it???

Saudi and Pakistan are of course big customers ...

6:34 pm, December 12, 2007

Blogger Merseymike said...

Spin. Don't believe everything you read - many other reports suggest something quite different.

Talk to some of the ga\y men and lesbians, or the Christian minority, who have had to flee the country as it is ever more run by Shia militias. Who the US allow to rule as long as they allow them access to the oil....

11:36 pm, December 12, 2007

Blogger Merseymike said...

Suggest you all read the Guardian article today which looks at the plight of women under the new regime(s)

But I suppose that doesn't matter.....if 'improvement' means defeating those who didn't support the war.

9:42 am, December 13, 2007

Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

Luke, I assume you have always protested against despotic regimes we provie ordinace for?

1:40 pm, December 13, 2007

Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

Mike, was that the story of 40 women who were arrested due to immoral behaviour or some other nonsence?

1:42 pm, December 13, 2007

Anonymous observer's friend said...

Don't be such a tosspot, Akehurst!

When I said "You and your friends" I was, of course, referring to your friends in the arms industry.

I wasn't referring to the Labour Government (and anyway, I understand you have few friends in the Labour Party!).

7:39 pm, December 15, 2007

Anonymous Ted Harvey said...

"UK has left behind murder and chaos, says Basra police chief"

Oh dear. Looks like he's someone else who is not pulling his weight and instead contibuting to:

'the doom-laden narrative that is received wisdom about Iraq'.

See Guardian today (if your stomach can take it):


12:24 pm, December 17, 2007


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