U.S. combat deaths (19) hit an all
time low last month. This is the continuation of a trend that began a year ago.
Iraqi deaths (532 civilians and security forces) were also the lowest this
year, but indicate that the Iraqis have taken over most of the fighting, and
were suffering over 96 percent of the combat deaths. The nature of the fighting
has fundamentally changed in the last year, with the Iraqi security forces
finally coming into their own, after years of recruiting, training and weeding
out those who were inept, unwilling or disloyal.
now concentrate on mentoring Iraqi combat units, and going after key terrorist
operatives (leaders, financial supporters and technicians). There are at least
a dozen terrorist cells still operating, and all have to be hunted down. The
problem here is that there are some Iraqi Sunni Arabs with so much blood on
their hands, that they will never receive amnesty (Shia and Kurd public opinion
would never allow it). So they fight to the death, trying to take as many
Iraqis and foreigner with them as possible. But the attacks are not random,
they never were. Most of the recent suicide bomb attacks (there are only a few
a week these days) are directed at the police, especially police commanders.
The terrorists always saw the police as the weakest link within the security
One of the
big losers in the last few months has been Iran. The hundreds of millions of
dollars spent on the Iraqi Shia militias evaporated quickly when the Iraqi army
and police moved into militia strongholds in Baghdad and Basra. Many militia
leaders were taken alive, and they talked, often of the support they received
from Iran. Lots of embarrassing documents, were captured, and Iraqi officials hand
carried these to Iran recently, to demand that the Iranians stop this kind of
mischief. The Iranians agreed, but privately pointed out that most of the
trouble was caused by extremists inside the Iranian government (mainly the Quds
Force and Revolutionary Guards units). These fanatics are largely beyond
control by anyone, but the Iranians apparently allowed as how these thugs would
not be missed by many inside Iran, and the Iraqis should kill as many of them
as possible, please. The Iranian government doesn't want to harm the growing
economic relations between the two countries, and terrorism kind of does that.
north, the Kurds are cracking down on some of the groups that are based along
the Turkish and Iranian borders, and launching attacks into those countries. The
Turks threaten more bombings and artillery shelling, plus commando raids, if
the Kurds don't shut down terrorists groups like the PKK. The Iranians are
reluctant to be as aggressive as the Turks, for fear of provoking an American response.
But Iranian troops patrol the Iraqi border aggressively, and clash with PKK
2008: Australia has declared victory in
Iraq, and is withdrawing most of its troops (an infantry battalion in western
Iraq). Some trainers, and security troops for the Australian embassy, will