Iraq, Baquba, Arrowhead Ripper, and the Real Elements of "Victory"
June 25, 2007
This report discusses the recent "Arrowhead Ripper" offensive in Iraq, in light of Iraqi political and economic developments and the progress of the Baghdad security plan.
It was always clear that a large security operation in Baghdad would simply lead many insurgents to leave the city and operate elsewhere and that most Shi’ite militias could simply stand down, let the US-led forces defeat the insurgents, watch a Shi’ite dominated government gain power, and resurface once the US was gone. Baghdad was important. It never made sense to see it as the decisive battlefield or center of gravity.
It may well be unfairly early to judge progress in Baghdad even in September, much less now. Historically, any campaign that has had to begin with as weak a foundation as the surge strategy took at least a year to seriously take hold and often several years. An Iraq in political turmoil, in local economic collapse, and without security even for senior officials and members of parliament, will not move quickly – especially in a Baghdad summer.
The fact remains, however, that tactical success will remain largely meaningless in Baghdad, Baquba, the other areas covered by Operation Ripper, and in Iraq as a whole unless it can be linked to political conciliation and progress in the six critical elements of victory listed in this report.