Good news from Iraq: Iraqi and American forces have killed the two top leaders of al-Qaeda in Iraq: Abu Ayyub al-Masri and Abu Omar al-Baghdadi. General Ray Odierno called their deaths “potentially the most significant blow to al-Qaeda in Iraq since the beginning of the insurgency.” Even before their demise, Odierno noted on Fox News Sunday, security trends were positive:
First quarter fiscal year ’10 was the lowest number of incidents we’ve had in a quarter, the lowest number of high-profile attacks, the lowest number of indirect fire attacks, the lowest number of civilian casualties, the lowest number of U.S. force casualties, the lowest number of Iraqi security force casualties. So the direction continues to be headed in the right way.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi electoral situation remains as unsettled as ever, with a partial recount being ordered. Iraqi politicians still do not seem to be close to forming a new government; the resulting period of indecision can be an inducement to militants to attack, as occurred during the last period of governmental formation, in 2006. Thus the body blow against al-Qaeda comes at a propitious time. We are by no means out of the woods in Iraq — a lot can still go wrong. But the country continues to defy the predictions of naysayers, who thought it would have fallen apart long ago.