One of the success stories that is coming to light as a result of the "mid-term" report the president issued on Iraq this week is the stunning turnaround in Anbar province, generally described as "lost" or "hopeless" last fall. Here is the lead paragraph from a story in the Washington Post dated September 11, 2006:
The chief of intelligence for the Marine Corps in Iraq recently filed an unusual secret report concluding that the prospects for securing that country's western Anbar province are dim and that there is almost nothing the U.S. military can do to improve the political and social situation there, said several military officers and intelligence officials familiar with its contents.
Since that time, in response to the savagery of al-Qaeda, the Sunni tribal leaders and sheiks turned against al-Qaeda and have been cooperating with our forces drive out al-Qaeda. Ramadi, the capital of Anbar and previously a no-go zone, is now one of the safest cities in Iraq. John Negroponte, Deputy Secretary of State, commented on this in an interview with Wolf Blitzer today (July 12) on CNN:
I returned -- I had the opportunity since last talking to you, Wolf, of returning to Iraq in the month of June. And I visited Ramadi, which has now been freed from al-Qaida influence and control, and it's a real success story. So I think some real inroads have been made against al-Qaida in Iraq.
This result confirms an excellent and prescient piece by Ollie North that we flagged in the American Thinker article "How do we know if we are winning or losing in Iraq?" on January 17, 2007: But it may be what is not bleeding is what should be leading - that the not bleeding will gradually exceed the bleeding and the normal processes of human nature assert themselves. Ollie North thinks we may be observing this in al-Anbar with the surge in volunteering for the Iraqi Police there.
Ollie was on top of this story as far back as last January and turned out to be very right.