With the hurricanes and all, I guess the MSM missed this one.
U.S. hands back security of Anbar Province
By Dexter Filkins
Monday, September 1, 2008
RAMADI, Iraq: Two years ago, Anbar Province was the most lethal place for American forces in Iraq. A U.S. marine or soldier died in the province nearly every day, and the provincial capital, Ramadi, was a moonscape of rubble and ruins. Islamic extremists controlled large pieces of territory, with some so ferocious in their views that they did not even allow the baking of bread.
On Monday, U.S. commanders formally returned responsibility for keeping order in Anbar Province, once the heartland of the Sunni insurgency, to the Iraqi Army and police. The ceremony, including a parade on a freshly paved street, capped one of the most significant turnabouts in the country since the war began five and a half years ago.
Over the past two years, the number of insurgent attacks against Iraqis and Americans has dropped by more than 90 percent. Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia has been severely degraded, if not crushed altogether, in large part because many local Sunnis, including former insurgents, have taken up arms against it.
Since February, as the security situation improved, U.S. commanders have cut the number of marines and soldiers operating in the province by 40 percent.
The transfer of authority codified a situation that Iraqi and American officers say has been in effect since April: The Iraqi Army and police operate independently and retain primary responsibility for battling the insurgency and crime in Anbar. The United States, which had long done the bulk of the fighting, has stepped into a backup role, going into the streets only when accompanied by Iraqi forces.
But the dynamic that has brought such calm to Anbar, welcome as it is, seems fragile. Many former insurgents now man the local police forces, or remain on the U.S. payroll as loosely supervised gunmen working for the so-called Sunni Awakening Councils.
But with most of the Sunni population having abstained from voting in 2005, many are now claiming that the present arrangement leaves them unrepresented. Local Sunni leaders have warned that provincial elections must go forward if violence is to be averted.
Still, as the parade marched along Ramadi's Main Street on Monday, the signs were mostly good. The ceremony was a primarily Iraqi affair, with the U.S. marines wearing neither helmets nor body armor, nor carrying guns. The festive scene became an occasion for celebration by Iraqis and Americans, who at several moments wondered aloud in the sweltering heat how things had gone from so grim to so much better, so fast.
"Not in our wildest dreams could we have imagined this," said Mowaffak al-Rubaie, the Iraqi national security adviser, who flew in from Baghdad. "Two or three years ago, had we suggested that the Iraqis could take responsibility, we would have been ridiculed, we would have been laughed at. This was the cradle of the Sunni insurgency."
Indeed it was. Anbar Province became the most intractable region after the toppling of Saddam Hussein in April 2003. More than 1,000 American marines and soldiers have died in the province, a quarter of the total U.S. toll.
Anbar's second city, Falluja, was the scene of the biggest battle of the war, in which nearly 100 Americans died and more than 500 were wounded.
Bordering on three countries, Anbar was also considered the primary transit point for foreigners entering Iraq.
The fighting devastated much of Anbar. Falluja, a city of 250,000, was razed, and large parts of Ramadi, a city of 500,000, were reduced to ruins.
By the summer of 2006, insurgents had tried to kill Anbar's governor, Mamoon Sami al-Rashid, 29 times. They failed with Rashid, but that was an exception. Rashid's immediate predecessor, Raja Nawaf, was kidnapped and murdered. His deputy, Talib al-Dulaimi, was shot and killed. The chairman of the Anbar provincial council was also murdered. Rashid's personal secretary was beheaded and most of his ministers went into hiding.
What finally broke the stalemate, according to former insurgents and local leaders, was a local revolt against Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the radical insurgent group believed to be led primarily by foreigners. As the group began to expand its goals beyond killing Americans to include sectarian assassinations and imposing a fundamentalist Islam, local tribal leaders struck back and reached out for help to U.S. forces. The "Sunni Awakening" was born, and it soon spread across the Sunni areas of Iraq.
Saadi al-Faraji used to be a gunman for a local group called the Islamic Movement of Holy Warriors, which focused mainly on attacking Americans. Then, in 2006, Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia tried to take over his group and force them to kill Iraqis who worked for the government, including police officers.
"Qaeda declared that we were apostates, and they demanded our heads, because we would not kill Iraqi soldiers or Iraqi police," Faraji said.
The Islamic Movement of Holy Warriors began attacking Qaeda fighters at about the same time that a local Sunni sheik named Abdul Sattar abu Risha struck a deal with the Americans and formed the first Awakening Council. The Islamic Movement formed its own Awakening Council, and today, Faraji is a colonel in the Iraqi police.
As for his view on Americans, Faraji said they had evolved.
"They made mistakes, and so did we," he said. "The past is past."
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Thread: Major US Military Victory
09-01-2008, 04:19 PM #1
- Join Date
- Jul 1999
- Flanders, NJ
Major US Military VictoryPROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.
09-01-2008, 04:43 PM #2
Well this is a bit of a surprise for sure. That certainly is a milestone (at least more newsworthy than the Republican Convention ).
Hopefully the local authority is able to retain the stability after the turnover.
Iraq was a dictatorship, but they were progressive enough to enjoy the benefits of a developed nation. I'm glad to see that at least in Anbar, the fundamentalists weren't able to keep the foothold they were looking for. Nothing could be worse than a Taliban-style Fundamentalist government infiltrating post war Iraq.
We'll be waiting and watching...Never argue with an Idiot. They drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience!
09-03-2008, 01:33 PM #3
- Join Date
- Mar 2004
- Memphis Tn,USA-now
The newsies sure were quick to cover any setbacks that they perceived.This is just a footnote as far as they are concerned.
It's a major step for the country and not getting much coverage.
09-03-2008, 04:24 PM #4
- Join Date
- Dec 2001
- Lusby, MD
This is definitely great news, and from the anti-war perspective should represent one step closer to getting out of Iraq. I agree with everybody else that this is great news, and hope that the locals are able to maintain stability.
09-03-2008, 05:34 PM #5
- Join Date
- Jul 1999
- Flanders, NJ
09-03-2008, 11:18 PM #6
Well duh. You didn't think they would actually publicize a success?? Silly.Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.
09-04-2008, 12:23 AM #7
Oh come on George.
Well over a year ago, Harry Reid declared that the war was lost. There's no reason to report on something that's been over that long.
09-04-2008, 12:25 AM #8
I hate it, but the news media that has been regularly labeled as liberal usually does not give much coverage to what is not a positive point of the Democratic party agenda. If this was a politically popular war and the Democratic party was behind it and singing the praises of our troops on the ground then this would be the first 15 minutes of every news castTo err is human, To forgive divine and at times I am as much of both as you will ever find
09-04-2008, 04:59 AM #9
I love it!
I have been watching the GOP convention, and every time there are harsh words for the media from the GOP speakers, when they cut back to the reporters, they start whining that the speaker is pandering to the convention goers, or how basically they don't think it is accurate, and so on.
The media is DEFINATELY left wing................
Who are they kidding??I.A.C.O.J. Charter Member
"Chet, get an inch and a half on that!"
"Not for fame or reward,Not for place or rank. Not lured by ambition or goaded by necessity. But in simple obedience to duty as they understood it. These men suffered,sacrificed,dared all, and died. Let us never forget our fallen friends."
09-05-2008, 07:12 AM #10
Well most of the media anyway.Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.
09-14-2008, 11:54 AM #11
Every opportunity they get to bury something good that is happening in the sandbox will be buried by B HO the great...
f'n liberal rags and news outlets ought to be shutdown for trying to influence gov't policy and elections...yet they are the ones who want to invoke the Fairness Doctrine on radio to stifle conservative talk radio...something they(liberals) failed at miserably...
I guess we'll see how many votes B HO can buy with his free handout promises..."Democracy is two wolves and a lamb deciding what to have for dinner. Liberty is a well-armed lamb."
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