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Sam Pender

Think about it, they killed Zarqawi, his 'spiritual (cult) advisor' possibly other aides all in one raid with 17 (Col. David Hunt says 19) simultaneous raids on other Al Queda safe houses and base of ops centers. Subsequent to the 18-20 raids, Fox News reported that another 39 raids on Al Queda safe houses and base of operations centers were raided based on intel from the Zarqawi raid (likely the combo of all 18-20 raids the other day). Literally DOZENS more Al Queda in Iraq members have been captured, and there's no telling how widespread the damage is to the organization. TF145 may have killed/captured 200 before June 06, but after 6/7/06...they've hit paydirt. My hats off to each and every member of TF145, the groups and organizations supporting them.

While most pundits are dismissing the Zarqawi assassination as "important" "a good thing" but including the caveat that it doesn't end the war, I submit that it will have a massive effect in destroying Al Queda in Iraq and perhaps even Al Queda proper as a global organization.

The spin on Al Queda in Iraq has always been two fold:
1) the false notion that they weren't there until the US invaded (there's no doubt at all that Al Queda had a high level relationship with Saddam's regime and arrived in Iraq almost a year before the invasion-specifically and including Abu Musab Al Zarqawi)
2) the misleading claim that Al Queda is only a small fraction of the insurgency. While true that most of the insurgents are not Al Queda, what's misleading is that most of the killing comes from suicide bombings, most of the suicide bombings are conducted by foreigners, and most of the foreigners are brought to Iraq (often not their planned/hoped for destination) by Al Queda in Iraq and the affilate groups under that umbrella. Thus, most of the killing comes from the small number of insurgents who are AQ in Iraq.

More importantly, the sectarian violence and divisions were being exploited, developed, fueled, even created by Zarqawi and Al Queda in Iraq (remember the bombing of the Golden Mosque by Zarqawi-the bombing that brought TIME, Newsweek, LAT, NYT, and all the MSM to cry "CIVIL WAR!"-that bombing was Zarqawi's handiwork). With him out of the picture, and with the organization taking major blows, that sectarian violence should be reduced and hopefully quell.

Finally, there is a paradigm shift approaching.
Al Queda in Iraq is being hit hard and taking losses
-so killings should fade over the next few months
-so sectarian violence should fade over the next few months

A new government is successfully forming
-making opposition to the representative govt less appealing than say opposition to imperialist invaders and occupiers; hopefully reducing the desire to support/take part in insurgency

Iraqi security forces are on track to meet their Aug 2006 goal of 270000.

Take away Al Queda in Iraq's influence on sectarian violence, their effect on the killings, their overall strength via dozens of raids and loss of leadership. Now add in the growth of the government, the reduction in insurgency popularity and strength, and add in the increasing strength and capability of the ISF...

...I think what's happening is that a dramatic tipping point is now within reach, and on track for late summer/fall.

Optimistic? Sure, but I base that not on some sort of neocon political "yea-team". I base it on the statistics and absolute faith in the men and women serving as well as confidence in the Iraqi people; people who have been bled white and are even more tired of war than the world, or the American people. Remember, they've lived through Saddam's hell, the Iran/Iraq War, the Gulf War, a 12yr blockade, a half dozen US-lead bombing campaigns, a second invasion of Iraq, 3yrs of insurgency, and all the American people have had to do is watch tv and see 2500/250000000 of us die. Each of those losses is devastatingly tragic, but a far cry from what the Iraqi people have been through, and that's why I think they want peace far more than we do.

Perhaps now with Zarqawi gone, his organization being ripped apart, and the rise of the ISF...perhaps now peace is within reach. We should all be so optimistic.

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