June 3, 2007

Salvation à la Mode

Hatched by Dafydd

Power Line continues the saga of the incredible shrinking terrorist front in Iraq; we ourselves previously blogged about this in several previous posts, beginning in March:

The Anbar Salvation Council of Sunni tribes in Iraq's Anbar province has not only launched a full-scale war against al-Qaeda in what used to be the terrorists' own home town, they have opened franchises in three other Iraqi provinces as well: Baghdad, Salahadin, and Diyala, all of which used to be under al-Qaeda management. More and more, Iraqi nationalism is beating back sectarian identity, and a desire for peace and good governance is rising up against the tolerance for terrorism and theocracy that accompanies any deal with the "Great Satan" of al-Qaeda.

The most recent Power Line post on the subject (linked above) quotes from the New Straits Times of Indonesia; alas, the link appears to be dead. But the incomparable Bill Roggio -- an American national resource -- had an article up yesterday on the WeeklyStandard.com that covers much of what we know:

The battle between al Qaeda in Iraq on one side, and the residents of the Baghdad district of Amariyah, the Islamic Army of Iraq, and the 1920 Revolution Brigades on the other, dominated the headlines late yesterday and this morning. The Washington Post reported that the battle began Wednesday "over accusations that al-Qaeda in Iraq had executed Sunnis without reason," and portrayed the conflict as one pitting the residents of Amariyah against al Qaeda....

The Anbar Salvation Council has formed a "clandestine SWAT unit" that is capable of operating outside of the western province, an American military intelligence official close to the operations of the group told us. These are the "secret police" described by of [head of the Anbar Salvation Council] Sheikh al-Hais.

Roggio notes that the Anbar Salvation Council has engaged in previous "expeditionary" operations in Salahadin and Diyala, as well as the current fighting in Baghdad. And the American military is cautiously encouraging the movement:

The fighting in Amariyah comes just as Lieutenant General Ray Odierno, the commander of Multinational Corps Iraq, discussed the prospects of reconciliation with insurgent groups, with the exclusion of al Qaeda. "I believe there are elements [of the insurgency] that are irreconcilable, but I believe the large majority are [reconcilable]," said LTG Odierno in yesterday’s press briefing. "The figures I use, I believe, about 80 percent are reconcilable, both Jaish al-Mahdi as well as Sunni insurgents. I believe little, very few of al Qaeda are reconcilable, but there might be a small portion."

To conduct reconciliation talks, each insurgent group will first need to establish a political wing. This is where the Anbar Salvation Council, and its political arm, the Anbar Awakening, came into play in the province. "The Awakening is the face of reconciliation for all practical purposes in Anbar," the American intelligence official familiar with the group informed us.

According to the counterinsurgency strategy developed by Gen. David Petraeus, we must eventually do exactly this; so it appears we are, if anything, ahead of schedule. This bodes well for the report on the counterinsurgency due to Congress in September.

I have heard several people recently, one of them the Senate majority leader, misquoting Petraeus (deliberately or foolishly) about the role of the military in the Iraq counterinsurgency. For example, here is a video clip of Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 95%) proclaiming that "General Petraeus has said the war cannot be won militarily." He clearly implies that Petraeus meant that "the war is lost" (as Reid had already announced), or at least that it cannot be won.

But what Petraeus really said was that the war cannot be won by military force alone; the most important element is political. Reid professed not to understand the distinction, but it should be clear to all except those who swim in currents of ignorance so strong, their brains turn to oatmeal (to paraphrase Sir Winston Churchill).

The "politics" that Petraeus means is precisely the sort of community retail politics we're now seeing in the Anbar Awakening (the political arm of the Salvation Council): one city, one province at a time. Such "townhall" politics must necessarily precede the macro-politics of the Iraqi parliament; the parliament cannot lead the way.

Our own federal government has a federal bias: Members of Congress tend to assume all political progress in Iraq must come from the national-level on down. But Gen. Petraeus and other military leaders must, of necessity, deal with Iraq at the level of neighborhood, district, and city; convincing neighbors to turn against al-Qaeda (or against Shiite death squads) is what determines whether we get good intel or not. Our soldiers understand, even if Sen. Reid does not, that the strength of Iraq -- and America and every other country -- resides in the people and the communities they form, not in the parliament; the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is a lagging indicator of how the war against global jihad is going.

In short, what the Anbar (or Diyala, or Baghdad, or Salahadin) Salvation Council does is a lot more important than what the Sunni members of parliament do; and what these Sunni tribal leaders are doing more and more nowadays is and killing al-Qaeda's leaders and fighters.

This is what victory in Iraq looks like; this is how counterinsurgency strategy wins. The revulsion by Iraqi Sunnis against the bloodthirst and power madness of al-Qaeda, and their willingness actually to go to war against terrorism, leads them to ally even with Americans to defeat the monsters. The forces of nationalism thus triumph over chaos and human sacrifice.

Clearly, not all Moslems (not even all religiously zealous Sunni Moslems) are violent jihadis. The Salvation Councils and Anbar Awakening may not be "Moslem Methodists," like Indonesia's Nahdatul Ulama (NU); but 'twill serve.

And for everybody except Democrats who were counting on picking up "five extra seats" in the Senate "when we lose the war," it's very, very good news.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 3, 2007, at the time of 1:09 AM

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The following hissed in response by: Terrye

When I started hearing about Sunnis being killed by suicide bombers I knew the jig was up. Why would AlQaida think that their hosts would tolerate that?

The above hissed in response by: Terrye [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 3, 2007 4:39 AM

The following hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist

Dafydd...you've been on top of this since Petraeus first took over...good job!

Another point is showing up in this surge. The Dems always claim that there was "no connection" between Iraq and al-Qaeda, "because the two are opposites" or "have opposing views"...etc. Now we not only have the Sunni, Baathists, and Saddam's 'homies' changing from their former al-Qaeda allies, but to the "impossible"...American allies!!!

The above hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 3, 2007 6:42 AM

The following hissed in response by: AMR

Michael Yon’s The Final Option dispatch also shows this with the demands from the tribal and local leaders to remove an Iraqi police chief who was previously a hero for the US military and the Iraqi leadership in Anbar. Lieutenant Colonel Doug Crissman’s exhibition of doing what was right, highlighting the rules of law, and what was necessary at the time to prevent bloodshed, all without his superior officers permission; this being transparent in short order to the Anbar Iraqi leaders, will give even more encouragement for the Iraqis to work with us. They may be reluctant to follow us and the central government, but they can see on a daily basis who is attempting to be fair and humane and who isn’t. All of the pontificating in the world can not overcome the spread of ideas by word of mouth. I am now very hopeful of a positive outcome in Iraq if congress will give our military the time necessary to succeed. This is the Anbar that was written off as almost lost just late last summer in the leaked intelligence report. This is becoming double win, to my way of thinking. We can win the battle on the Iraqi front and show the defeatists that THEY are defeated.

The above hissed in response by: AMR [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 3, 2007 12:48 PM

The following hissed in response by: MTF

Lest the AP and Rueters despair though, as the news in Iraq improves, their always helpful al-Qaeda boys are promising to come through today with video of the remaining three American prisoners. Just in time. Any self-respecting news organization would refuse to give the terrorist scum publicity but not these reporters. At what point can we declare AP and Rueters enemy combatants?

The above hissed in response by: MTF [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 4, 2007 6:58 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dan Kauffman

At what point can we declare AP and Rueters enemy combatants?

I would prefer them to be declared spies, you get to execute spies. Enemy combatants get to surrender

The above hissed in response by: Dan Kauffman [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 4, 2007 7:22 AM

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