That’s the conclusion of a terrorism expert from the Cato Institute, a Libertarian think-tank:
[quote]“Expert: Al-Qaida can’t conquer Iraq”
WASHINGTON, July 20 (UPI)
A leading U.S. expert says al-Qaida would not be able to take over Iraq if the U.S. military left the country.
“It is highly improbable that al-Qaida could use Iraq as the kind of safe haven it enjoyed in Afghanistan,” Ted Galen Carpenter, vice president in charge of foreign policy and defense studies at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank in Washington, said in a recently released memo.
The terrorist organization would not enjoy the same kind of protection and freedom as it did in Afghanistan under the Taliban regime because it is not embraced by most Iraqis, Carpenter wrote.
“Al-Qaida also had a much larger force in Afghanistan – an estimated 18,000 fighters. Even the U.S. government concedes that there are fewer than 2,000 al-Qaida fighters in Iraq, and the Iraq Study Group put the figure at only 1,300,” Carpenter wrote. “It strains credulity to imagine 1,300 fighters – and foreigners at that – taking over and controlling a country of 26 million people.”
A poll conducted by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland last year found 94 percent of Sunni Muslims in Iraq, 98 percent of Shiites and 100 percent of Kurds had a somewhat or very unfavorable view of al-Qaida, Carpenter wrote.
“Even if U.S. troops left Iraq, the successor government would continue to be dominated by the Kurds and Shiites, since they make up more than 80 percent of Iraq’s population,” Carpenter said. “That doesn’t suggest a reliable safe haven for al-Qaida.”
He blamed al-Qaida’s numerous violent attacks in Iraq, mainly on Shiite civilians, for the group’s unpopularity in the country.[/quote]