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We reported on the formation and early activities of the Anbar Salvation Council several weeks ago. This group's rise drew extensive coverage in the Iraqi and Arabic media, but was largely ignored in the western press.
Since then? Well, nothing. But this week in the London Times, Martin Fletcher reports from Ramadi:
Fighting back: the city determined not to become al-Qaeda's capital.Read the whole thing. (Hat tip to Bill Roggio, who will soon be reporting from Iraq himself.)
While the world’s attention has been focused on Baghdad’s slide into sectarian warfare, something remarkable has been happening in Ramadi, a city of 400,000 inhabitants that al-Qaeda and its Iraqi allies have controlled since mid-2004 and would like to make the capital of their cherished Islamic caliphate.
A power struggle has erupted: al-Qaeda’s reign of terror is being challenged. Sheikh Sittar and many of his fellow tribal leaders have cast their lot with the once-reviled US military. They are persuading hundreds of their followers to sign up for the previously defunct Iraqi police. American troops are moving into a city that was, until recently, a virtual no-go area. A battle is raging for the allegiance of Ramadi’s battered and terrified citizens and the outcome could have far-reaching consequences.
The situation is fragile. The Sunni Shieks are not fighting alongside Americans - they simply recognize the greater threat is al Qaeda.
As one US officer put it, the sheikhs are only “pro-American in the sense that they are fighting the same enemy”.But there is progress being made:
The US military wooed the sheikhs over what one US officer described as “hundreds of cups of chai and thousands of cigarettes”. They agreed that their chosen instrument should be the police force, which was practically defunct thanks to al-Qaeda death threats against anyone who dared to sign up. In June there were only 35 recruits; in July Sheikh Sittar sent 300 members of his 30,000-strong Resha tribe for training.Note that record from last month - one that went unreported during the record violence. These are the people who Abu Hamza al-Muhajir — aka Abu Ayyub al-Masri (the late Abu Musab al Zarqawi's replacement as leader of al Qaeda in Iraq) gave until the end of Ramadan to repent and swear allegiance, or die. Apparently he has his answer:
Last month a record 409 new recruits were dispatched to the police academy in Jordan, and 1,300 are now signed up, many of them former Baathists. The US and Iraqi armies have armed and protected them against al-Qaeda attacks, and as fear of al-Qaeda has dissipated, so the process has accelerated.
Inside the heavily fortified Abu Faraj police station, just north of Ramadi, the recruits all said that they had been too frightened to join before. “Right now almost all the tribes are fighting the terrorists — the women, the children and even the dogs are fighting them,” said Major Saidey Saleh, the station commander and former Saddam army officer who bears the scars of four al-Qaeda bullet wounds in his right thigh.Ramadi is a city ruined by war - and a city still at war, but a growing (albeit fragile) hope for the future remains.
Update: The Airstrike that Wasn't
More: Progress in Al Anbar
Michael Fumento is another excellent source in the area now. Check his latest at:
Iraq's Violence Spins Beyond Anyone's Control
Analysis: It has been clear for some time that the U.S. is not in control of events in Iraq. But the latest sectarian bloodshed suggests that even help from Iran and Syria may not be enough to stop the slide into chaos
Golly, if even Iran and Syria can't help I don't know what we'll do. They were our last hope.Posted by Greyhawk at November 25, 2006 03:17 PM
Wow. The point of that just zipped right over your head and out of the park huh?
There is nothing in Iraq but chaos, violence and misery. What is coming will make Saddam's vile dictatorship look like the Smurf village.
I wonder how long before you accept this rather self evident fact; Bush while ignore bigger more important problems made a bad situation in Iraq worse.
There were no WMD.
There are no parades.
There are no grand squares.
There is no democracy.
There is no security.
There is no stability.
There is no peace with Israel.
There is no exit.
There is no plan.
There is however a nuclear Iran and North Korea.
There are more terrorists and terrorist causes.
There are more dead Iraqis and more dead Americans and more dead allies.
There is billions spent and for what?
Your acceptence of the facts, I guess, hinges on how vast and fragile your ego is.Posted by salvage at November 25, 2006 03:36 PM
I'm confused - do you want us to go to war with Iran or have then help us fix Iraq?Posted by Greyhawk at November 25, 2006 05:28 PM
I'm confused -
I see that.
I'll see if I can make it simpler.
Iraq has gone from bad to worse as a direct result of an invasion by the United States under literally false pretenses. The fallout from this act is further instability in the Middle East and an increase in terrorism. Furthermore the real war on terror in Afghanistan was shorted in money and manpower and as such what could have been a victory has been relegated to a growing bloody stalemate.
The invasion was a mistake launched on a lie to the detriment of not only America but the world. This is directly the fault of the Bush Administration.
These are not opinions these are facts and it seems only the very partisan are immune to them.Posted by salvage at November 25, 2006 07:02 PM
No, apparently you're confused. Please explain your plan for Iran - you've gone from "they're our last hope - but not much of one" to "they're our biggest threat" to "I'm pretending they don't exist" in three comments.
Focus.Posted by Greyhawk at November 25, 2006 10:53 PM
"Furthermore the real war on terror in Afghanistan was shorted in money and manpower"
How many troops are there now? How many were there in 2001/2002?Posted by Greyhawk at November 25, 2006 10:54 PM
He's stupid. Do these guys just assume new IDs and start trotting out the same line over and over, or is there really another generation of trolls being trained to be uneducated by the first bunch?
Just curious because their training plan needs work. It is, however, cyclical and repetitive. Perfect for generating proficiency in the Art of Stupid.
SubsunkPosted by Subsunk at November 26, 2006 02:02 AM
It wasn't a fair question anyway - I already knew the answer.
In March 2003, the United States had about 9,500 troops in Afghanistan. Today, there are more than 21,000 U.S. forces either under U.S. or NATO command in Afghanistan or directly supporting missions there. Some 20,000 troops from 37 NATO and non-NATO nations are also committed to the effort.If we pull our troops from Iraq we will probably have to send them to Afghanistan - al Qaeda certainly will.
"These are not opinions these are facts " - no, they are your feelings - which I hope I haven't hurt. Facts are things like the numbers quoted above.
But back to the off-topic conversation you started, Salvage - do tell us your plan for Iran. (Hopefully you're realizing that bumper-sticker slogans won't get you very far here.)
You haven't fled, have you?Posted by Greyhawk at November 26, 2006 05:29 PM
You may not have thought that Iran part through before cutting and pasting, so to be fair here are a few other great questions you've brought up that would benefit from further illumination on your part. A couple for starters:
"Saddam's vile dictatorship" - 12 years of global sanctions and near-continuous US air attacks failed to end that. What would you have done differently?
"There are more terrorists and terrorist causes." - How should we respond to this threat?
"There is no peace with Israel." What's the best way to bring that about?
It's possible that your real problem is that you hate George Bush - so ten bonus points if you can respond without referencing him. This isn't a George Bush blog (his name appears once on the main page in a quote from Senator Levin, and again in another media quote regarding the draft), or even a political blog, per se, our focus is military.Posted by Greyhawk at November 26, 2006 05:51 PM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(11) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)