Fareed Optimistic About Iraq?
By golly, it sounds that way. This is the most hopeful column he has written about Iraq that I can remember. A few paragraphs:
On the political front, the overtures to Sunnis have yielded some results. Last week in Cairo, the Sunnis pushed through a united Iraqi position that included support for the right of resistance. It’s purely symbolic. The Sunni leaders I talked to in Baghdad are well aware that if American forces left tomorrow, the insurgents would kill them all. But the outcome bolstered their nationalist credentials and also brought in other Arab states that so far have been sitting on the sidelines. That Washington did not overreact to the hot air coming out of Cairo is a sign of its new maturity.
If Washington’s strategy is more aggressively pursued, it could actually be compatible with some American troop withdrawals. For obvious political reasons, it would be far better if the “hold” part of the policy was done by Iraqi forces. And, in fact, this has been happening. Najaf and Mosul are now patrolled entirely by Iraqi Army forces. Even Kirkuk, which is politically sensitive, has fewer American troops in it than it did six months ago. This trend could accelerate, which would mean that three or four brigades could be withdrawn in the next year.