Anyone who says Al Qaeda is not one of the primary problems in Iraq is simply ignorant of the facts.
I, like everyone else, will have to wait for September's report from Gen. Petraeus before making more definitive judgments. But I know for certain that three things are different in Iraq now from any other time I've seen it.
1. Iraqis are uniting across sectarian lines to drive Al Qaeda in all its disguises out of Iraq, and they are empowered by the success they are having, each one creating a ripple effect of active citizenship.
2. The Iraqi Army is much more capable now than it was in 2005. It is not ready to go it alone, but if we keep working, that day will come.
3. Gen. Petraeus is running the show. Petraeus may well prove to be to counterinsurgency warfare what Patton was to tank battles with Rommel, or what Churchill was to the Nazis.
And yes, in case there is any room for question, Al Qaeda still is a serious problem in Iraq, one that can be defeated. Until we do, real and lasting security will elude both the Iraqis and us.
Yon is a former Special Forces soldier who later became a writer and a photographer. His work appears in the Weekly Standard, the National Review and on www.michaelyon-online.com. (source)