Surprise! Al Qaeda is alive and well and rapidly gaining strength in Iraq:

Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia’s structure has given it the flexibility to make frequent and varied attacks, analysts say. “You don’t need a huge, thriving organization to carry out huge, devastating attacks,” said Matthew Levitt, director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

But Petraeus' failed strategy has brought some Sunnis and Shiites together - just not in quite the way he intended:

Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, an extremist Sunni group that believes Shiites are heretics, has recently begun to partner with Shiites in the county’s south, according to Iraqi officials and Awakening Council leaders who retain ties to the insurgent group. The group has paid Shiites to provide intelligence and to manufacture and plant bombs in areas where a Sunni would most likely attract unwanted attention, said Abdullah Jubouri, an Awakening leader in Salahuddin Province, in northern Iraq ... “Shiite civilians are helping Al Qaeda because they need the money,” said a Wasit provincial council member, Shamel Mansour Ayal.

Meanwhile, the elites cannot form a government after seven months.

Since the March 7 election, they have met just once, and that was for less than 19 minutes. In the interim, some have sought out less chaotic places with better weather and less bloodshed, staying in nice hotels or private homes with chlorinated swimming pools in Jordan, Syria, Iran or Dubai.

And now we have the architect of this failure doing more p.r. about Afghanistan, on exactly the same lines as he pulled the war over our eyes, while performing a face-saving, half-assed withdrawal from Iraq.

“We’re on the cusp of beginning, of supporting, the Afghan beginning of reintegration,” General Petraeus said.

Karzai begs to differ:

A spokesman for Mr. Karzai confirmed that there had been contacts with the Taliban at every level, but he cautioned that the contacts could not be characterized as even the beginning of negotiations.

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