A RADICAL plan by Al-Qaeda to take over the Sunni heartland of Iraq and turn it into a militant Islamic state once American troops have withdrawn is causing alarm among US intelligence officials.
A power struggle has emerged between the self-styled Islamic State of Iraq, an organisation with ambitions to become a state which has been set up by Al-Qaeda, and more moderate Sunni groups. They are battling for the long-term control of central and western areas which they believe could break away from Kurdish and Shi’ite-dominated provinces once the coalition forces depart.
In reality, this shouldn’t be a huge shock, as the White House announced the following on May 3 in a press release entitled “Setting the Record Straight: Iraq is the Central Front of Al Qaeda’s Global Campaign”:
"All Americans are entitled to their own opinions about Iraq, but they are not entitled to their own facts. We all wish al Qaeda were no longer a threat, but the reality is Gen. Petraeus calls them 'probably public enemy number one' in Iraq. It is impossible to completely segregate al Qaeda's attacks in Iraq from sectarian violence because al Qaeda's explicit goal is to create sectarian violence to destabilize the government so they can establish a safe haven within the country. Considering Gen. Petraeus' comments, the National Intelligence Estimate, and news media reports, al Qaeda's role in fomenting violence in Iraq is ignored at our own peril." – White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, 5/3/07
Those familiar with this announcement should be aware that Snow was referring to statements made by General David Petraeus at a special Pentagon briefing on April 26. Those unfamiliar shouldn’t feel ignorant, for most media completely ignored Petraeus’ words.
Fortunately, the Sunday Times appears more interested in reporting the news rather than censoring it like so many press outlets here:
According to an analysis compiled by US intelligence agencies, the Islamic State has ambitions to create a terrorist enclave in the Iraqi provinces of Baghdad, Anbar, Diyala, Salah al-Din, Nineveh and parts of Babil.
“Al-Qaeda are on the way to establish their first stronghold in the Middle East,” warned an American official. “If they succeed, it will be a catastrophe and an imminent danger to Saudi Arabia and Jordan.”
Is it any wonder why our antiwar press don’t want Americans to know about this? After all, such a revelation might change public sentiment concerning the war, and move a decent percentage of citizens to question whether an expeditious and capricious withdrawal is a good idea.
In the end, this isn't about whether there was any connection between al Qaeda and Iraq prior to 9/11, or whether Saddam Hussein had anything to do with the attacks on our nation that day.
Instead, and significantly more important, if al Qaeda are indeed hoping that they can create such a militant Islamic state within Iraq after we leave, shouldn't that be part of the discussion rather than being buried and/or ignored?
Or, am I being too idealistic in expecting such from our press representatives?