Friday, October 26, 2012

State Department: Al-Qa’ida in Iraq Resurgence

    President Obama's greatest foreign policy triumph is by all accounts the successful tracking and killing of Osama bin Laden, the long-time al-Qaeda chief.  The White House notes this accomplishment on its Foreign Policy page on its website along with other achievements, such as:
Refocusing on the Threat from al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan  President Obama took office pledging to end the war in Iraq while refocusing on al Qaeda – particularly in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Since taking office, the Obama Administration has focused its resources on al Qaeda and its affiliates. These counter-terrorism efforts have substantially impacted al Qaeda’s leadership, including the death of Osama bin Laden in May 2011.
On December 1, 2009, at West Point, the President put forth a new U.S. strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan that is focused on disrupting, dismantling, and defeating al Qaeda and preventing its capacity to threaten America and our allies in the future.  
Responsibly Ending the War in Iraq  On February 27, 2009, President Obama announced a plan to responsibly end the war in Iraq.
On August 31, 2010, the President announced the end of our combat mission in Iraq, and Iraqi Security Forces assumed lead responsibility for their nation’s security.
In December of 2011, the final U.S. troops left Iraq, ending America’s war there as promised. Beyond 2011, the United States will have a normal relationship with a sovereign Iraq, one in which we work together as partners to promote our common security and prosperity. 
    In light of the unsettling events in Libya, Afghanistan, and other countries in the region, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was questioned about al-Qaida's relative strength in an interview With Reena Ninan of ABC News:
QUESTION: We’re seeing al-Qaida strengthen in some parts – in Mali, in Syria, in Iraq. What’s the real status of al-Qaida, and are they strengthening?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think it’s absolutely fair to say that the major leadership of al-Qaida, including bin Ladin, has been decimated. There has been an effort to have other al-Qaida affiliate-like organizations – al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb – to try to take up the mantle of al-Qaida, but the core of al-Qaida has been severely damaged.
But we know that there will be terrorists, if they call themselves that or they call themselves something else, who will continue to terrorize people in the countries where they are based and continue to threaten the United States and our friends and allies. So we have never taken at all our eye off the ball of how we have to keep going after those extremists who pose a threat.
    However, on Wednesday of this week, Clinton's own State Department issued a report entitled "Al-Qa’ida in Iraq Resurgence", listed on the website of the Overseas Security Advisory Council under Recent Reports - Global Security:
Al-Qa’ida in Iraq Resurgence
Near East > Iraq > Baghda
Recent bombings, a jailbreak, and the discovery of training camps in western Iraq highlight the resurgence of al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI) operations over the past 10 weeks. During this period, AQI conducted an average of 140 attacks per week, up from 75 in early 2012, according to the Pentagon.
    Only this summary is available to the public as OSAC reports are generally only available to subscribers.  The report does not appear anywhere else on the State Department website despite the alarming nature of the summary.  Attacks have nearly doubled in the past ten weeks, a time extending back before the attacks in Libya.  However, the most recent Travel Warning issued by the State Department dates back to August 9, 2012, just at the start of the ten week period in question (granted, it is a fairly dire warning.)

    Despite Mrs. Clinton's reassurances ("decimated", "severely damaged"), the increasing incidence of terrorism attributed to Al-Qa’ida in Iraq is significant.  A full investigation of recent events certainly demands a close look at the growing influence and threat of al-Qaida throughout the region, no matter how politically uncomfortable that may be for the Obama administration and its foreign policy "victories."

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