Saturday, May 19, 2007

Salvation Council's Tough Stance

An interesting interview took place a few days ago in Baghdad with the head of the Anbar Salvation Council, Sheik Hamid al-Hais. He eludes to the surge in police recruits over the past few months in Anbar Province, and has some hard-hitting statements about our struggle with Al Qaeda in the area. We have the local and regional sheiks aligned with us, and the results are impressive and cannot be discounted. Critical daily incidents are down significantly in the area compared to a year ago, and the emergency response units we are guiding through training on-base are the reason. Loyal to their tribes, these men are patrolling their lands and protecting their own from Al-Quaeda's purposeful targeting of innocents and attempts at destabilization. Our success in Anbar is directly tied to theirs...

"We have our own tribal legal system and this is constant and cannot be changed. Murderers must be killed under tribal law and unless we use this force against terrorism, terrorism will continue to rise."
The Salvation Council is part of a movement called the Anbar Awakening run by Sheikh Abdulsattar Abu Risha, whose alliance of tribal leaders united against the threat posed to Anbar province by Al-Qaeda's militants.
Anbar's mainly Sunni population once largely supported attacks on US forces and Iraq's Shiite-led government.
Many, however, have become sickened by Al-Qaeda's attacks on civilians and tribal leaders and are angered by the insurgents' interference in the region's traditional ways of life.
Since October, sheikhs have funnelled thousands of tribal fighters into the police and "emergency response units", which now fight alongside US and government forces while retaining their loyalty to their sheikhs.

Hais, who despite his tough talk looks urbane and cosmopolitan in his smart business suit and neat moustache, says he can now field 15,000 armed fighters, most of them now nominally in the police but still under his orders.
How many of these were once in the resistance, fighting the Americans? "Fifty percent and maybe more," he said.
And why did they change sides? "Because of the behaviour of Al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda did not distinguish between the innocent and the guilty. They killed the resistance, they killed sheikhs, they killed everyone,"


Bag Blog said...

Your mention of the tribal legal system is very interesting. We never hear of insurgents being tried and convicted for murder as Saddam was. With the involvement of these tribes, it seems like their legal system would go a long way in detereing future terrorists.

David M said...

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 05/21/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention.

Missy said...

Carl - Good report. 2 thoughts:

First, that we have to understand and accept that we have to adjust our tactics to the local culture/custom. This is a tough one for us to accept, but we must do this to win.

Second, that we should take care to "distinguish between the innocent and the guilty. They killed the resistance, they killed sheikhs, they killed everyone," This is a tougher thing to do, that is, to distinguish between friend or foe. But if we get off of our "firm" bases and embed more troops with the local population we have a better chance at success.

BrianFH said...

Keep in mind that being American or supporting the MNF was the definition of "guilty" at the time he's referring to. "Innocent" would be one of his tribe the AQ took exception to. I think the sheiks have a big learning curve ahead of them, too.