Day By Day

Friday, October 06, 2006

More Interesting Developments in Iraq

Last week I noted a report that tribes in western Anbar province had been enlisted in the fight against al Qaeda. There had been previous efforts along those lines, all of which had failed to produce substantive results, however, it seems that this time something good for us, bad for the insurgents, is taking place. [here]. I hoped that this time would be different from past frustration. Well, it appears I underestimated the effectiveness of this effort. The LA Times reports:

BAGHDAD — As tribal leaders from Iraq's troubled Al Anbar province met last week with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, pledging their support to clean out Al Qaeda insurgents, it soon became clear that they were as good as their word.

That day, at a mosque in the town of Ramadi, armed tribesmen seized four men — two Iraqis and two non-Iraqi Arabs — whom the tribesmen believed to be Al Qaeda fighters. The men pleaded for their lives, "for the sake of Islam, and for the sake of the prophet," according to a man who witnessed the incident during group prayers.

Their bodies were found a few hours later in a dumpster.

Abdul Jabber Hakkam, spokesman for a coalition of 11 tribes that have pledged to fight insurgents in Al Anbar, said that despite what apparently happened in Ramadi, the tribes' plan was not to dispatch suspects on the spot. Instead, he hopes his fighters will arrest suspects and take them to court or shun them until they leave.

"People have done this with their own personal weapons," he said. "Now each house that hosts a terrorist, they will force all the residents of the house outside, so they're on the streets," he said. When that is done, he predicted, the insurgents will "have no one to keep them, and they will withdraw."

"We are not just targeting Al Qaeda, but terrorists in general, because people miss real stability and freedom," Hakkam said.

Read it here.

There's still a long way to go -- a few executions are not the same as clearing the province. The insurgents had a lot of time to dig in and they still control some villages, but this is an important step forward.


Captain Ed opines that this shows the fundamental weakness of the al Qaeda strategy in Iraq:

The tribal backlash shows why the Zarqawi strategy was always a loser. Al-Qaeda needed to win over the Iraqi people to its radical Wahhabist vision, a tough sell in a majority Shi'ite nation. Instead, Zarqawi tried to start a civil war with the short-term goal of getting America to run away from it. That would separate the Sunni areas of Iraq from the oil-producing areas of the nation, locking them into poverty and granting their sectarian opponents the riches of the nation. That's especially true in western Iraq, where Anbar lies, and the tribes have begun to realize the long-term dangers of such a split.

He also sees hope for the future:

Maliki has managed to make a deal in everyone's best interests in Anbar. Hopefully the tribal leaders can maintain the enthusiasm when they create a formal fighting force for the region under the auspices of the Iraqi government. The al-Qaeda insurgency appears ready to fall in Anbar.
Read it here.

I think he may be right. I certainly hope so. One encouraging sign..., American politicians and officials are now scrambling to get in front of cameras to make statements to the effect that they are at long last putting pressure on the Maliki government to quell the insurgency. That looks as if they are trying to position themselves to take some of the credit when the insurgency finally collapses.

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