Michael Ware in Al Anbar: it's worse than the WaPo said
Michael Ware just gave an extremely depressing report on CNN about the state of Al Anbar Province in Iraq. The Washington Post today reported that Al Anbar is basically lost to insurgents, and that "there is almost nothing the U.S. military can do to improve the political and social situation there." The report gives the very real sense of a failed state.
...there are no functioning Iraqi government institutions in Anbar, leaving a vacuum that has been filled by the insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq, which has become the province's most significant political force, said the Army officer, who has read the report. Another person familiar with the report said it describes Anbar as beyond repair; a third said it concludes that the United States has lost in Anbar.
Ware, who has been in Iraq for years now, went much further than the already-pessimistic report. With frustration in his voice, he said that the Washington Post story is an old story. This has been known to commanders on the ground for a year and a half. And the reason this is the case today in Al Anbar is that the US is not committed to the fight. We only have 1/3 of the troops needed to make a dent. The troops that are there are simply holding the line, and they're being put into a meat grinder for the sake of moving other troops into Baghdad.
Politically, Ware said, it's an absolute disaster out there. The residents of Ramadi and Al Anbar believe that the ruling government (and the Americans who support it) is empowering their old enemy, Iran. Without any functioning institutions, they are being herded toward Al Qaeda because they have no choice. He said Baghdad has cut off sugar supplies to Al Anbar and nobody can explain why.
The region has almost become a place where insurgents have free reign. North of Ramadi, on the other side of the Euphrates River, is a spot called Jazeera. Military intelligence knows that was Zarqawi's safe ground, the central headquarters for Al Qaeda in Iraq (such that it is). Zarqawi's successor stills goes there. Zawahiri has said that's where the caliphate will begin. How many troops do we have fighting this enemy? About 300. Not even a battalion. We are not disrupting them even though we know this is their location.
Meanwhile this score-settling continues in the very house of horrors we just left to the Iraqis, Abu Ghraib:
Staff at the jail say the Iraqi authorities have moved dozens of terrorist suspects into Abu Ghraib from the controversial Interior Ministry detention centre in Jadriyah, where United States troops last year discovered 169 prisoners who had been tortured and starved.
An independent witness who went into Abu Ghraib this week told The Sunday Telegraph that screams were coming from the cell blocks housing the terrorist suspects. Prisoners released from the jail this week spoke of routine torture of terrorism suspects and on Wednesday, 27 prisoners were hanged in the first mass execution since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime.
And this comes from the Shiite-led government we're propping up.
Can anyone explain what we're doing in Iraq if we aren't even fighting the insurgency, and we're giving them a safe harbor in a region that borders Saudi Arabia, Syria and Jordan? Can anyone explain why we're supporting a so-called democracy that is torturing Sunnis and doing their level best to deteriorate the country into civil war? Can anyone explain how, five years after 9-11, we've managed to make the central response to those horrific attacks a country, now thrown into chaos, which had nothing to do with those attacks or the organization who planned it?
Can anyone figure out this war?