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« Iraqi grass roots | Main | Determined to lose »

September 09, 2007



Are US tactics behind the "Anbar Awakening" consistent with a strategy for "success" in Iraq?

The most obvious problem with any wider application of the new Anbar approach is that the Anbar population is characterized by ethnic and sectarian homogeneity, while it is ethnic and sectarian strife within the less homogeneous areas that presents the major immediate challenge to overall political and economic progress.

Less obvious is the inconsistency introduced into the US political message. If it's OK for the US to work closely with and indirectly fund Sunni militia groups in al Anbar, why isn't it OK for Iraqi ministries to work closely with and indirectly fund Shiite militia groups elsewhere? While we're building up and relying on independent, locally based sectarian militias, how can we credibly demand that the Baghdad government move vigorously to disarm and disband such groups?

Tom Bowler

There is nothing indirect about U.S. working with Sunni tribes in Anbar. The U.S. has reached out and the Sunnis have responded, volunteering for the Iraqi army and the Iraqi police. Those that are involved in citizen security organizations are vetted, identified by finger print and retinal scan. They pledge to support the Iraqi government.

It isn't OK for Iraqi ministries to work indirectly with Shi'ite militias. The U.S. and Iraqi forces are confronting the militias and this has forced Moqtada al Sadr to call for a sessation of militia activity. Whether this will save the militias from being destroyed remains to be seen.

In any event, no course of action is without risk. But U.S. tactics that have led to the Anbar Awakening are definitely a strategy for success.

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