On the same day Juan Cole described U.S. involvement in Tal Afar as one the ten worst catastrophes to befall Iraq in the past year, GW (his Cluelessness-in-chief) Bush hailed it as a U.S. success. Who's right? My money is on the guy who did not give a "Mission Accomplished" speech on May 1, 2003.
"4. The US military used Kurdish and Shiite troops to attack the northern Turkmen city of Talafar in August. Kurdish troops, drawn from the Peshmerga militia, were allowed to paint lasers on targets in the city, which were then destroyed by the US air force. Entire neighborhoods were destroyed, and much of the population was displaced for some time. Shiite troops and local Shiite Turkmen informants were used to identify and interrogate alleged Sunni insurgents. Turkey was furious at the attack on ethnically related Turkmen and threatened to halt its cooperation with the US. Although the attack was allegedly undertaken to capture foreign forces allegedly based in the city, only 50 were announced apprehended. The entire operation ended up looking like a joint Kurdish-Shiite attack on Sunni Turkmen, backed by the US military. Turkmen and Kurds do not generally get along, and Turkmen accuse Kurds of wanting to ethnically clense them from Kirkuk. The entire operation was politically the worst possible public relations for the US in northern Iraq, and seems unlikely to have put a signficant dent in the guerrillas' capabilities."