U.S. officials say that there are indications that Al-Qaida is diverting new recruits from going to Iraq, where its fighters have suffered dramatic setbacks, to Afghanistan and Pakistan, where they appear to be making gains.
"We do believe Al-Qaida is doing some measure of re-assessment regarding the continued viability of its fight in Iraq and whether Iraq should remain the focus of its efforts," said Brig. Gen. Brian Keller, the senior intelligence officer for Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq. But Keller said U.S. officials had no evidence that top Al-Qaida in Iraq leaders had gone to Afghanistan.
A largely homegrown insurgent group that U.S. officials believe is led by foreigners, Al-Qaida in Iraq has long been one of the most ruthless and dangerous organizations in the country. But even some of its leaders acknowledge that it has been seriously weakened over the past year.
This will be trumpeted as "victory" over Al Qaeda in Iraq by the "surge". In fact, it shows the futility of relying strictly on "hot war" tactics to fight jihad. Just as we saw Ethiopian troops rout the jihadis and push them out of Somalia, as soon as the troops leave, the jihadis return and regain control. A "hot war" (limited in scope) will work well to remove specific threats, for example WMD manufacturing facilities. A "hot war" will not work well to eradicate religious belief from a hostile population. We have succeeded, at great cost to oursevles, in pushing Al Qaeda in Iraq into Afghanistan and Pakistan. As soon as we withdraw from Iraq, they will return.
Which, as long as we do not stupidly accept responsibility for their intra-Islamic behavior, and as long as we block their immigration to our countries, and as long as we limit our interaction to military surgical strikes to remove their capability to strike us, should be acceptable to us.