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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Encouraging News from Iraq

Ralph Peters provides a glimpse of the Iraqi army that we just don't see in the mainstream media. Writing today from Baghdad for the New York Post , Peters points out what the media has ignored about the aftermath of the recent Golden Mosque bombing: that "it was the Iraqi army that kept the peace in the streets."

We all heard that, after the bombing, Iraq was on the verge of a civil war. It didn't happen. Why not?

Peters makes the following points about the Iraqi military's response to the crisis:

* The Iraqi army deployed over 100,000 soldiers to maintain public order. U.S. Forces remained available as a backup, but Iraqi soldiers controlled the streets.

* Iraqi forces behaved with discipline and restraint - as the local sectarian outbreaks fizzled, not one civilian had been killed by an Iraqi soldier.

* Time and again, Iraqi military officers were able to defuse potential confrontations and frustrate terrorist hopes of igniting a religious war.

* Forty-seven battalions drawn from all 10 of Iraq's army divisions took part in an operation that, above all, aimed at reassuring the public. The effort worked - from the luxury districts to the slums, the Iraqis were proud of their army.

Peters relates that, in a Post interview on Saturday, the commander of Iraq's ground forces, Lt.-Gen. Abdul Qadir, had this to say:

Not one unit had sectarian difficulties, not one. And when we canceled all leaves after the mosque bombing - we expected trouble, of course - our soldiers returned promptly to their units. Now it is as you see for yourself: Iraqis are proud of their own soldiers.

Peters stressed that there is still a long way to go, and says that when he asked General Qadir when he thought American troops should leave Iraq, the general replied, "We must not be in too great a hurry for you to go."

There is a long way to go, but I have to believe that the progress being made is much greater than what the mainstream media is telling us. I also have to believe that the events of the last few weeks should be encouraging.


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