AP is reporting that the US Military has handed control of Anbar over to the Iraqis. This is a major accomplishment for both the US AND Iraq, and further indicates the substantial progress the Democrats continue to deny and the media refuses to report. The surge worked, the Iraqis are stepping up, and Iraqis living in Anbar have rejected al-Qaida:
The province was the base of the shadowy al-Qaida in Iraq and its leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi who used the area as a staging ground for attacks in Baghdad until he was killed in a 2006 American airstrike.
Just two years ago a Marine intelligence report had concluded that al-Qaida had made such inroads that the war was "lost" there.
But later that year, a backlash was born in Anbar against al-Qaida among Iraq's Sunni Arab community because of the group's attempt to dominate the insurgency. Many Iraqi tribal leaders opposed al-Qaida's brutal tactics, including mass killings of Shiite civilians and Sunni leaders who would not accept the movement's rule.
Disaffected Sunni sheiks organized awakening councils that joined forces with the Americans to push al-Qaida from the province. That enabled U.S. forces to gain control of the provincial capital of Ramadi and other cities long considered killing zones for Americans.
Now Anbar is considered one of the quieter parts of the country, though bitterness between the awakening councils and the central Baghdad government, which is predominantly Shiite, remains and could complicate political reconciliation efforts.
While cautious in their enthusiasm, officials are saying that "Al-Qaida has not been entirely defeated in Anbar, but their end is near and they know it." The Sunni awakening, and the refusal of the US Military to give up, brings renewed hope for the region and the country as a whole.
There is reason to be optimistic here; 11 of the 18 provinces are now under Iraqi security control, agreements on the withdrawal of American troops are near completion, and Iraq is starting to build an economy. We may be too busy in this country focusing our media outlets on the wonders of an Obama Presidency, but in Iraq the only news that matters is that they are fast approaching an end to their pain and suffering...and our Men and Women are getting closer to coming home.