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"An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last."
Sir Winston Churchill

5.14.2007

Good News In Iraq

We've finally realized that the most important political unit in Iraq is the tribe:

In the aftermath of America's recent troop surge in Iraq, tribal leaders throughout this country are turning on Al Qaeda, and American military commanders are trying to exploit the new development by bringing tribe members into the Iraqi Security Forces.

For those officers overseeing the new tribal diplomacy, signs are emerging that Iraq's deepest social networks — its tribes — are withdrawing their tacit acceptance of Al Qaeda and are becoming more willing to cooperate with American authorities to combat the terror network.

The plan is inspired by some successes that the Marines and the Army had with tribes in Anbar province, but it is still in the early stages.
While the military and CIA have tried to reach out to Iraq's tribes since before the war, those efforts yielded mixed results. The majority of Sunni tribes cut deals with Al Qaeda for cash — between $30,000 and $40,000, according to sheiks here — to turn a blind eye to Al Qaeda's activities. That arrangement is starting to fall away.

"I see what I think is becoming a national trend, especially in areas influenced by Al Qaeda, where they have made inroads, and even in places where you see other forms of religious extremism, such as Jaish al-Mahdi, you have it from the South. It's coming, it's there," Lieutenant Colonel Richard Welch said in an interview. Colonel Welch, a public prosecutor in Ohio, spends his days meeting Iraqi tribal chiefs as he oversees tribal and religious outreach for the Multi-National Force in Baghdad.

Sheikh Hussein al-Tamimi, whose tribe has been friendly to American forces since the invasion, agrees that many of his fellow chieftains have changed their position on Al Qaeda in recent months. "I think the motivation behind the change is to protect their interests," he said in an interview. "They lose business."

Sheikh Hussein, as well as other sheikhs interviewed for this piece, said the turning point for the tribes was in September when Al Qaeda in Iraq declared the formation of the Islamic State of Iraq, a shadow state that in pockets of the country has established Islamic sharia courts and tried to provide some social services. The declaration was a direct challenge to the centuries-old tribal system that has prevailed in most of Iraq. As a result, the terrorists once seen as allies against the American invaders have also come to be seen as invaders.


This is something the pointy-headed weasels at Foggy Bottom can never seem to wrap their heads around: nationalism is a very weak force in most of the world, whereas personal and familial loyalty is everything.

But what do you expect of people who think that talking is the same thing as doing?

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