With the major arrests of top-level terrorist leaders recently in various cities around Iraq (most notably this guy and most recently this guy), and including the live rescue in Baghdad (pop. 6 million) of the Australian hostage a couple weeks ago, I'm led to believe that what we're seeing right now might be the beginning of a very competent counter-terrorist intelligence service in the Iraqi military/government. I believe that the Iraqi experience is a corollary to the Israeli experience in this regard. Think about how the Israeli intelligence services (i.e. Mossad) came to be the most highly capable intelligence operation in the world during the relatively short amount of time that they've existed; they've lived with terrorism next door and have been consistently dealing with it since the sixties. And the proximity makes every Israeli citizen connected to the conflict in some way. Now think about the all the experience and know-how that the fledgling Iraqi forces have been getting for 2 years now, living in the cauldron of terrorism, and their direct involvement in operating in what has become, literally, the front line in the war on terror (not to mention the world-class training they're receiving). What are we now seeing from it? Fruit, and it's bearing big-time high-level fruit, both figuratively and literally (could be true--after all, Arafat literally was a fruit). In thinking about where Iraqi intelligence capabilities could be in the next five years, I do not think it would be a stretch to say that they could be even more important than Israeli intelligence in that part of the globe, if not in proficiency then certainly in effectiveness. I say this because the Iraqi's have one simple, major advantage: they're Arabs living in an Arab state! Plus, like every Israeli citizen, every Iraqi citizen becomes somehow connected to the fight against terrorism because they live with it and see its evil crimes with their own eyes. It has been said that Pakistan is America's most key ally in this war for similar logistical reasons, which is a valid point. But they are not Arabs who can infiltrate or even necessarily understand the culture of the Arab states, the origin of past, current and future terrorism, and where 90% of it still festers. Turning Iraq into our ally (a true ally in the popular-Iraq sense) has got to be one of the smartest, most clever and ingenious things that American planners have ever whipped up, and it's one more reason why the fight for Iraq is vital, and for which the war on terror will ultimately be decisive.
Update: With developments like these, one wonders whether Cheney may have had inside info when he recently talked about the "insurgents" being in their "last throes", because that is a very bold thing for a vice-president to say, especially when considering that he's right near the top of the decision-making that moves things in their direction.