Sunday, April 29, 2007

In Anbar the Seeds of Hope are Sown

The NY Times is reporting that tribal and militia leaders have joined forces with the US military in rooting out Al Qaeda in Iraq. Why? Because as much as they may dislike us Al Qaeda has proven itself far worse. I am wondering if they aren't looking ahead to a time when the US isn't there and Al Qaeda finds itself with too much free time and ammo on its hands. How long till they start punishing/terrorizing the citizens and leaders wantonly for violations of Shariah law?

An insurgency can only be effective if it has the support of people in the area in which it operates. Al Qaeda has apparently lost that in Anbar.

Uneasy Alliance Is Taming One Insurgent Bastion

RAMADI, Iraq — Anbar Province, long the lawless heartland of the tenacious Sunni Arab resistance, is undergoing a surprising transformation. Violence is ebbing in many areas, shops and schools are reopening, police forces are growing and the insurgency appears to be in retreat.

“Many people are challenging the insurgents,” said the governor of Anbar, Maamoon S. Rahid, though he quickly added, “We know we haven’t eliminated the threat 100 percent.”

Many Sunni tribal leaders, once openly hostile to the American presence, have formed a united front with American and Iraqi government forces against Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. With the tribal leaders’ encouragement, thousands of local residents have joined the police force. About 10,000 police officers are now in Anbar, up from several thousand a year ago. During the same period, the police force here in Ramadi, the provincial capital, has grown from fewer than 200 to about 4,500, American military officials say.

At the same time, American and Iraqi forces have been conducting sweeps of insurgent strongholds, particularly in and around Ramadi, leaving behind a network of police stations and military garrisons, a strategy that is also being used in Baghdad, Iraq’s capital, as part of its new security plan. full article

The article goes on to state that the alliance is fragile but holding. Should this plan work it may become a model for actually winning the peace across Iraq. Over at The Atlantic Andrew Sullivan sums it up quite nicely:

"What Anbar shows is that relative peace and stability will come only when Iraqis themselves, for reasons of their own, defend their own country from al Qaeda's poison. We can and should continue to help them in any way we can. But the more they take the lead in defending their own country the better. Even in Anbar, however, the "national" government remains a problem, since the Sunni tribes don't trust the Shiites in Baghdad (with good reason)."

"We will have precipitated a situation in which the real war here - within Islam, between mainstream Islam and al Qaeda - will finally be joined. We should do all we can to help from a distance, maybe even a small distance. But this is their fight not ours. We cannot win it; only they can. Our goal should not be our victory against al Qaeda; it should be their victory against al Qaeda."

Since we all know that the troops are going to be there at least as long as W is in office this tactic may be the best hope for seeing our forces pulled out in a reasonable time frame and our only hope of winning. So lets keep our fingers crossed.