- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 24, 2005

These are not the best of times for Saddam loyalists, jihadists, common criminals and associates of Abu Musab Zarqawi who comprise the insurgency that has terrorized the Iraqi people for almost two years. Iraq’s soldiers and private citizens are fighting back.

The first major blow against the insurgents came as a result of the Jan. 30 elections, in which millions of Iraqis defied the terrorists and went to the polls to begin the process of writing a new constitution and electing a government. The second damaging development is the fact that Iraqis have become much better at defending themselves. During the past few weeks, a spate of news reports have appeared in mainstream media outlets showing that Iraqi military and police forces and armed civilians are beginning to make life miserable for the insurgents.

On Monday, the New York Times ran a front-page story, “On Iraq’s Street of Fear, the Tide May Be Turning,” which showed how Iraqi soldiers in Baghdad have been increasingly successful in combating the insurgents. As a result, the terrorists are finding it increasingly difficult to pin down American troops and hit the Green Zone, headquarters of the Iraqi government, with mortar fire. American officers said that previously, the terrorists had been able to mass in groups as large as 150, pinning American soldiers down for as long as six hours at a time. But that no longer is the case, because the Iraqis have become a much more effective fighting force and are refusing to buckle to the intimidation campaign.

On Wednesday, American and Iraqi soldiers killed at least 80 insurgents in a raid against what may have been the largest terrorist training camp discovered since the war began two years ago. Foreign fighters trained at the camp; its rural location northwest of Baghdad bore a resemblance to al Qaeda training facilities in Afghanistan prior to September 11. Soldiers found computers, car bombs, suicide-bomber vests and computers at the training camp.

One of the most heartening developments in recent weeks has been the increasing willingness of Iraqi civilians to stand up to the terrorists. On Tuesday, the NYT reported, a carpenter named Dhia saw a group of masked, grenade-carrying gunmen coming toward his shop in Baghdad. So Dhia and several of his relatives opened fire first, killing three of the gunmen. Similar incidents have occurred elsewhere.

Yesterday, the liberal-leaning Christian Science Monitor, in an editorial titled “Iraqi Uprising Against Terrorists,” said: “As if the Jan. 30 elections in Iraq weren’t enough of a message to that nation’s insurgents to quit, now come reports of angry private citizens acting to stop a terrorist attack before it began … When common Iraqis start to actively say ‘Enough,’ then tolerance for terrorism melts away.” We wholeheartedly agree.

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