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27 September 2006 Blog Home : September 2006 : Permalink

Reuters chokes on good news

Al Reuters is forced to report that things could possibly be looking up in Iraq. Of course it has problems saying so but the news that the Sunni tribes in Anbar provice are now fighting on the government side against Al Qaeda and that Al Qaeda leaders in the province are being captured and kikled is one of those stories that is pretty much good news however you try to spin it. Although I'm sure our friends at the NY Slimes will have a go at finding the massive, hitherto unsuspected, bad news part. Or at least bury it somewhere at the bottom of page B32.

Reuters' attempt to minimise the good news starts off like this (my bolding):

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Sunni tribal leaders who have vowed to drive al Qaeda out of Iraq's most restive province met the Shi'ite premier on Wednesday, marking what Washington hopes will be a breakthrough alliance against militants.

Sattar al-Buzayi, a Sunni sheikh from Anbar province who has emerged in recent weeks as a leader of a tribal alliance against

Osama bin Laden's followers, said he and about 15 other sheikhs had offered their cooperation to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

"We agreed to cooperate," Buzayi told Reuters. "We haven't agreed to anything specific, but we agreed to cooperate."

Maliki's office issued a statement praising the chiefs for their commitment to fighting the militants.

"This is admired and respected by all Iraqis. We are fully prepared to back your efforts," the prime minister said.

Firstly why is it just Washington that hopes this? How about "marking what sane people around the world hope..."? because I can't see many people anywhere who want Al Qaeda to remain in Iraq. Secondly, I have no idea what the full statement says but I'd guess that "We haven't agreed to anything specific" is only part of it and it seems to me it could easily be spun to "this is just more words with no back up" if Reuters feel like it.

Only after this section about the meeting do we get the information about how unpopula Al Qaeda is and how the cooperation seems to be killing or capturing Al Qaeda leaders (again my bolding):

Al Qaeda's Iraq branch has seized control of towns and villages throughout the Euphrates river valley along the 250 km (180 miles) from Falluja, near Baghdad, to the Syrian border.

But their strict interpretation of Sunni Islam and violent rule has alienated traditional-minded Sunni Muslims, including groups that have supported the insurgency against U.S. forces.

The United States says its 30,000 troops in Anbar -- by far the deadliest province for U.S. forces in Iraq -- cannot defeat the insurgency on their own. Senior commanders say they have been delighted by recent developments in Ramadi.

Buzayi confirmed that U.S. and Iraqi forces had killed a senior al Qaeda figure in Anbar on Tuesday. Khalid Ibrahim Mahal has been described as Qaeda's "emir" in the province although the organization's precise leadership structure is murky.

"He was a very important figure for al Qaeda and getting rid of him was for the best," Buzayi told Reuters.

Iraqi journalists for Reuters in Ramadi say another figure named Zuhair, seen as a key Qaeda militant and known locally as "The Butcher of Anbar," was killed by tribal gunmen in a car as he walked in one of Ramadi's main commercial streets on Monday.

Again the negativity - 30,000 troops cannot defeat the insurgency on their own. Well duh! of course they can't. Practically no one has ever defeated any terrorist group or insurgency without significant buy in from the local populace. The only regime to have been successful in the regard is Syria - but then the destruction of a major town (Hama) and the killing of an estimated 25,000 people (almost all of its inhabitants) is not something that the US has felt like doing in Iraq.

That negativity continues as the report concludes with a laundry list of completely unrelated incidents in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq.

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