Important Undercurrents in Anbar

BY Herschel Smith
7 years, 7 months ago

In Sand Berms Around Haditha and Security and WHAM: Getting the Order Right, we discussed in some detail the methodology that had been enacted to win back Haditha.  It involved strong leadership, limitations on movement, and complete cuttoff from the infiltration of the rogue foreign fighters from Syria by means of sand berms.  Subsequent to our articles, Stars and Stripes published a very similar article entitled Unit sees efforts stabilize city, drive back insurgents.  In the dangerous land that is Anbar, security is paramount, and without it, “winning the hearts and minds” of the population has proven to be next to impossible.

Also in Hope and Brutality in Anbar, we reiterated that the primary procedure used by AQI, AAS and the foreign fighters has been threats, torment, torture and houses of horror.  The threat made by the terrorists is that without cooperation of the people of Anbar, there will be no security since retaliation is a mainstay of the terrorist strategy.  Without conscience, the insurgents are willing to carry out their threats in houses of horror.  This tactic, in addition to scaring some of the population into submission, also has as its very nature a tenuous balance, where the very tactic itself is seen by the population as a lack of security.

The counterinsurgency continues, and with coalition forces unwilling to relent, the acts of holding women and children hostage during gunbattles, hiding in the people’s houses during combat operations (only to invite a direct hit by a JDAM), bullets flying freely through the streets due to sniper operation, and innocent people dying in torture sessions can turn the tide against the insurgents.  In fact, this is happening with greater regularity.

The tactics have not changed, and yet another torture house was recently discovered and shut down near Fallujah.  But tiring of such things, the tribes are reacting against the brutality.  Azzaman reports:

Some Arab tribes in the central and western parts of the country seem to have been fed up with the violence Al-Qaeda operatives are causing in Iraq.

At least one chieftain of the powerful Dulaimi tribe in northern Baghdad has decided to wage an open battle against al-Qaeda.

Mahmoud al-Fahdawi, head of Dulaimis in Tarmiya, Dhaloiya, Balad and Taji, some of the most violent areas in Iraq, is reported to have ordered his tribesmen to wage war on Qaeda.

Fahdawi’s men have captured three Saudi Nationals who reached the area a month ago and started setting up Islamic courts.

“The Saudi nationals sentenced innocent people to death on the pretext of cooperating with U.S. and Iraqi troops,? Fahdawi said.

He said he surrendered the three Saudis to U.S. troops when it became clear that they were Qaeda members.

It is the first time an Iraqi tribal leader in the so-called Sunni Triangle, where most of violence takes place, speaks out against Qaeda and delivers its operatives to U.S. troops.

Previously, many tribes were afraid to take on Qaeda in their areas and several tribal leaders have been killed for opposing its presence in their areas.

It is not clear whether Fahdawi’s move is part of wide resentment of Qaeda particularly in Dulaimi areas.

The Dulaimi tribe is present in central and western parts of the country. It is one the largest and most powerful tribes in Iraq and its members are said to have been leading the fight against U.S. troops in the Anbar Province, their main stronghold and where most of U.S. casualties are incurred.

“The tribes in the areas north and west of Baghdad launched attacks on several strongholds of gunmen and managed to kill and capture scores of them,? Fahdawi said.

He said the tribes were emboldened by a new council the government has set up to rid the Province of Anbar of gunmen.

It is a complicated matter, where there isn’t some point that security is fully implemented, any more than the murders in Chicago suddenly stop.  And there isn’t some point at which winning the hearts and minds of the people suddenly becomes necessary, prior to which it didn’t matter.  But of the most important issues associated with winning the hearts and minds, security comes first.  It is a tried and tested formula.


You are currently reading "Important Undercurrents in Anbar", entry #476 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Iraq,Small Wars and was published March 7th, 2007 by Herschel Smith.

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