Want to understand what is happening in Iraq? You need to read Marc Lynch. His latest:

The most important implication of the Sunni turn against al-Qaeda is not that the “surge” is working, or that the insurgency is losing steam. Rather, the insurgency’s turn against al-Qaeda — if it comes to fruition — actually strengthens the case for an American withdrawal, by putting to rest fears of Iraq becoming a new base for global jihad. The escalating confrontation we’ve witnessed between the insurgents and al-Qaeda suggests that they would not afterwards tolerate the kind of al-Qaeda presence that Americans fear. Meanwhile, the currently dominant trends in the insurgency have made it ever more clear that they are willing to talk to the Maliki government and the United States, if only they get a strong commitment to withdrawal.

The absence of such a commitment helped doom earlier American efforts led by Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad to reach out to elements of the insurgency, while — as Secretary of Defense Robert Gates acknowledged yesterday — the congressional debate about a deadline for withdrawal may now be enticing them into renewed contacts. The Sunni turn against al-Qaeda opens up some real prospects for a desperately needed Iraqi political reconciliation … if the United States can learn the right lessons.

Read the whole thing.

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