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Thread: Sunnis revolt against al-Qaida in Iraq

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    Council Member Culpeper's Avatar
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    Default Sunnis revolt against al-Qaida in Iraq


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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

    Ahmed denied being a member of any insurgent groups but said he sympathizes with "honest Iraqi resistance," referring to those opposed to U.S.-led efforts in Iraq but also against the brutal tactics of al-Qaida.

    "Al-Qaida fighters and leaders have completely destroyed Amariyah. No one can venture out and all the businesses are closed," he said. "They kill everyone who criticizes them and is against their acts even if they are Sunnis."

    "What al-Qaida fighters do is not jihad (holy war), these acts are just criminal ones. Jihad must be against the occupation, Shiite militias and those who cooperate with them," he added. "Those fighters are here only to kill Iraqis and not the Americans. They are like cancer and must be removed from the Iraqi body."
    This reminds me of the final gunfight in the movie; just who gets to play "Angel Eyes" and who ends up being "Tuco" depends on which section of the audience is voting.

    Tom

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    -hard to beat that analogy

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    Council Member sullygoarmy's Avatar
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    "The enemy of my enemy is my friend".

    As much as its good to hear about this incident and the Sunni "Awakening" in Al Anbar, one wonders how long before Sunnis turn on the U.S. if AQ were to pull out.
    "But the bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet withstanding, go out to meet it."

    -Thucydides

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    Council Member Abu Buckwheat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sullygoarmy View Post
    "The enemy of my enemy is my friend".

    As much as its good to hear about this incident and the Sunni "Awakening" in Al Anbar, one wonders how long before Sunnis turn on the U.S. if AQ were to pull out.

    Hmmm ... These press reports reek of IO. We must keep in mind that the Sunnis ARE the insurgency (the "honest resistance" that has killed over 3,000 US troops). AQI is about 2-5% of the whole resistance force ... if they left tomorrow the insurgency would be in full swing but SVBIED attacks would give way just a bit in intensity but would not stop ... the first SVBIED attacks in Iraq were by Saddam loyalists.

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    Council Member Stu-6's Avatar
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    "The enemy of my enemy is my friend"
    But some people have more than one enemy.

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    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default Al Qaeda's New Enemy -- Iraqis

    10 June LA Times commentary - Al Qaeda's New Enemy -- Iraqis by Frederick Kagan.

    ... The story of the "Anbar Awakening" — the uniting of the province's Sunni Arab tribes against Al Qaeda — is relatively well known. In mid-2006, a Marine intelligence officer in Al Anbar declared the situation hopeless and the province irretrievably lost. The Iraqi government was unable to recruit Anbaris into the local or national police or into the Iraqi army. But later that year, a combination of Al Qaeda atrocities and skillful counterinsurgency techniques by U.S. forces convinced Sunni tribal leaders that enough was enough.

    Today, more than 12,500 Anbari recruits, the overwhelming majority of them Sunnis, are fighting or preparing to fight Al Qaeda despite ferocious counterattacks by the terrorists against them and their families. Tribal leaders are negotiating with the Iraqi government to rebuild their war-torn province. Violence in the provincial capital has dropped precipitately, from 108 deaths a week in mid-February to seven in the second week of May. Al Anbar has gone from hopeless to a beacon of hope and a signal of the turn of Iraq's Sunnis against their erstwhile terrorist allies.

    Now the movement against Al Qaeda is spreading. "Salvation councils" similar to the Anbar Awakening have been formed in mostly Sunni Salahuddin province (north of Baghdad),Shiite-Sunni mixed Diyala province (northeast of the capital) and mostly Shiite Babil province (south of Baghdad). In some cases, their coming together coincides with cease-fires between U.S. forces and non-Al Qaeda insurgent groups. All are striving to reestablish normal relations with the Iraqi government.

    Al Qaeda has responded in characteristic fashion — a campaign of atrocities designed to intimidate or kill its new antagonists. Such tactics were successful in the past. No longer...

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    Council Member Abu Buckwheat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWJED View Post
    10 June LA Times commentary - Al Qaeda's New Enemy -- Iraqis by Frederick Kagan.
    Somehow I knew this would be written by a Kagan ...
    Putting Foot to Al Qaeda Ass Since 1993

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    Iraq's Sunni Arabs, once one of the most supportive communities of Al Qaeda, are now among the most hostile, repudiating their alliance of convenience with the terrorists and risking their lives to fight with us against our worst enemies. This is a trend worth fighting to continue, and Iraqis who now stand with us at their own peril are people worth fighting for.
    This is a true rose-colored glasses POV. Don't misunderstand me, Al Qa'ida in Iraq driving indig Sunni over to our side is a very good thing - in general terms. This has been discussed before on the board.

    But keep in my mind that for them, this is also an "alliance of convenience" - and temporary. This doesn't translate into love for the Shi'a or for the coalition in broad terms. They are simply exploiting us to aid them in ridding themselves of a particularly virulent parasite.

    However, this can be massaged into a long-term strategic benefit for us, if handled with care. But we can't do it by ourselves - once again, we need the indig Shi'a to take significant positive measures that will reinforce Sunni integration into the new Iraq. Unfortunately, I don't see that happening any time soon. The Shi'a political groups in Iraq are beset by infighting, and as they fragment there is no chance of any substantive movement in this direction.

    So, if substantive measures aren't taken, then this will end up being no more than a temporary alliance to kick out one set of foreign SOBs. And the indig Sunni will most likely exploit this opportunity to enhance their capabilities to renew the offensive against us once they've driven Al Qa'ida out of their territory. This is not to say that they are exactly passively sitting around right now....

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    Council Member Culpeper's Avatar
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    Jedburgh

    I agree with your assessment based solely on the history of the region. If Al Queda is complicating matters with forcing their brand of Islam on the Sunnis than the fight is just between Al Queda and the Sunnis involved. It has little to do with America versus Al Queda. But that doesn't really matter if the end result complicates Al Queda and Sunni operations against coalition forces. The fact that this is happening is a goal of counterinsurgency operations. It is almost putting a sqaure peg in a sqaure hole. I state this because America is a stumbling block between the real fight between the Sunni and Shiites. A fight that has been going on since the beginning of the Islamic calendar. There is nothing we can do about that. In the meantime, and like you stated, in the short term, we have bad Sunnis killing Al Queda and vice versa. This works in our favor. Incidentally, this in-fighting, such as between different tribes and sects, has been occurring ever since Operation Iraqi Freedom got under way. Up until then it was a one-sided fight while Saddam was in power. But as for this development. It is also recorded since the beginning the Islamic calendar of Muslims making deals with the devil. So, anything is possible. What is good for the company is good for everyone.

    I guess I'm an optimist. Counterinsurgency is unconventional warfare. When we see signs that something is occurring along that doctrine that is in the counterinsurgents' favor I looked at it as a positive. Most learned thinkers on the subject tend to reflect negatively. As if counterinsurgency is an impossibility and any good news should be viewed with caution all the time. At what point do we decide it is working? Never?

    The history of the region is long term. Our involvement will forever be on a short term basis. Just ask the Mongols.
    Last edited by Culpeper; 06-10-2007 at 11:36 PM.
    "But suppose everybody on our side felt that way?"
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    Quote Originally Posted by Culpeper View Post
    ...Counterinsurgency is unconventional warfare. When we see signs that something is occurring along that doctrine that is in the counterinsurgents' favor I looked at it as a positive. Most learned thinkers on the subject tend to reflect negatively. As if counterinsurgency is an impossibility and any good news should be viewed with caution all the time. At what point do we decide it is working?
    The problem is that the fight we face in Iraq isn't a just a COIN fight. As others have mentioned on this board (I believe Bill Moore has put it very well a few times), in Iraq we have elements of COIN, terrorism, civil war/sectarian fighting, inter & intra militia warfare, and plain old fashioned brutal criminal gangs - all of this as we attempt to help the Iraqis forge a new democratic state in a country which has no history of such a thing.

    Success is not impossible. But it's damn hard when you don't know what the hell you're doing.

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    Council Member Abu Buckwheat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jedburgh View Post
    This is a true rose-colored glasses POV. Don't misunderstand me, Al Qa'ida in Iraq driving indig Sunni over to our side is a very good thing - in general terms. This has been discussed before on the board.

    But keep in my mind that for them, this is also an "alliance of convenience" - and temporary. This doesn't translate into love for the Shi'a or for the coalition in broad terms. They are simply exploiting us to aid them in ridding themselves of a particularly virulent parasite.

    However, this can be massaged into a long-term strategic benefit for us, if handled with care ... So, if substantive measures aren't taken, then this will end up being no more than a temporary alliance to kick out one set of foreign SOBs. And the indig Sunni will most likely exploit this opportunity to enhance their capabilities to renew the offensive against us once they've driven Al Qa'ida out of their territory.
    This is a good assessment of the article and the situation between the three wings of the Sunni insurgency. AQ’s presence is an alliance of convenience. However, I believe that the alliance between Al Qaeda and the Sunni Religious extremists and the main force FRL insurgents is the opposite of what Kagan and many other planners believe. This may be related to Kagan’s eternal love for small resistance groups (he was a big supporter of the Contras). Near daily ideological thinkers such as Rober and Kimberly Kagan (in her National Review Online “Iraq Reports”) are giving the mis-guided impression that AQI is the motivating and guiding leadership of the insurgency. In fact, they believe that AQI is almost exclusively the heart and soul of the insurgency.

    For the last two months many in the media have been forwarding the belief that we are in the midst of a Sunni-wide upraising against AQI. Repeatedly one report about a tribe supporting the coalition has been evolving into a tidal wave of Sunni support for the coalition and a major "awakening" against the foreign Salafists.

    From my study each report of support has been limited to very specific areas and people/tribal leaders who now, with coalition assistance, are the economic and power players in their small piece of terrain. I believe many of these leaders are not long for this world or are merely laying their community’s need for immediate gratification while still supporting the insurgency with material support. The report that 1,200 men out of a 5 million person population joined the local IP and swore an oath at the urging of tribal leaders and that they have sworn to kick out AQI is a good step. However the 1,200 men who participate in this effort remains a far cry from estimated 8,000 men per year who join the Sunni insurgents.

    I believe there is a small amount of friction between AQI-Islamic State of Iraq’s ludicrous goals of imposing Islamic law and acting as defenders of Iraq. Friction between competing irregular forces is a historical fact. The history of the Fatah movement in the Palestinian community is a good example of rivals attacking each other... over four decades the PLO, PFLP, DFLP and now HAMAS and other groups have clashed as they vied for dominance in a field of combat against a common enemy. Yet they have cooperated far more than they have fought. AQI has always been a foreign presence in Iraq that was barely tolerated. Every time they start placing posters in areas they infest and declaring Sharia’ law, most Iraq locals take it in stride and balance that out against getting a few licks in against the columns of Bradley AFVs, Humvees and M-1As that deny them jobs, money and electricity. When one’s child is crying from lack of sleep because its 120 degrees and you have no fuel oil to run the generator to run the AC then smiling when the foreign Takfiris blow up an American tank or Humvees with an IED it all doesn’t seem so bad. Crying child, lack of sleep and someone strikes the blow against the people who all made your lack of sleep happen. You will support that blow either passively or actively.

    The Sunni community sees all of the insurgents, FRL, AQI and Iraqi Islamic extremist nationalists as a hedge against the Americans and the Shiite-Kurd government... its all the hope they have. For the local on the ground its a zero sum game. Occasionally and I think this is an example where the local population have friction and are using the Americans to cover for that friction. A few small clashes in Baghdad does not mean AQI is falling. At anytime the FRLs could snap their fingers and AQI would disappear from the face of the earth ... I have been actively encouraging this. We could leave Iraq tomorrow if Al Qaeda ended as a movement in the FRL-based insurgency, given that they would have no community base in which to operate. However the FRLs need AQI to sustain the pressure on the psyche of the world through SVBIEDs .... I really believe the SVBIED pipeline is neo-Baathist run and Salafist executed. It has such a disproportionate impact that Robert Kagan takes the slightest internecine friction as a sign the end is near.

    The neo-Baathists must love this guy... the pro-war crowd has been dancing to the tune of a brilliant, concerted FRL information war since day one. The FRLs operating out of Damascus, Sharjah UAE and Amman are smart and they know what kind of news makes is think we are winning and everytime we believe it they employ a wave of bad news, through AQI, and we lose face -again. In fact, they are most likely planning for a nation-wide push at some point in September (if May’s wave of attacks wasn’t that push then we have big trouble) with AQI just to show how wrong we are, but they will wait until we are entrenched in the idea that we have now started defeating AQI with Sunni insurgent proxies. We fell for this in 2004 and it is destine to happen again. We appear to be embracing any bad idea to make the appearance of forward progress.
    Putting Foot to Al Qaeda Ass Since 1993

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    Council Member Abu Buckwheat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jedburgh View Post
    Success is not impossible. But it's damn hard when you don't know what the hell you're doing.
    Oh, thats just brilliant! So true!
    Putting Foot to Al Qaeda Ass Since 1993

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Looks like this is rapidly becoming stated policy.

    U.S. Arming Sunnis in Iraq to Battle Old al-Qaeda Allies. John Burns, Alissa J. Rubin, NYTIMES. 11 June.

    With the four-month-old increase in American troops showing only modest success in curbing insurgent attacks, American commanders are turning to another strategy that they acknowledge is fraught with risk: arming Sunni Arab groups that have promised to fight militants linked with Al Qaeda who have been their allies in the past.

    American commanders say they have successfully tested the strategy in Anbar Province west of Baghdad and have held talks with Sunni groups in at least four areas of central and north-central Iraq where the insurgency has been strong. In some cases, the American commanders say, the Sunni groups are suspected of involvement in past attacks on American troops or of having links to such groups. Some of these groups, they say, have been provided, usually through Iraqi military units allied with the Americans, with arms, ammunition, cash, fuel and supplies ...

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Deals in Iraq Make Friends of Enemies - Washington Post, 20 July.

    U.S. forces in Iraq are striking a variety of "handshake agreements" with Iraqi insurgents and militia groups, sometimes resulting in the release of fighters detained for attacking coalition forces, U.S. military officials said in several recent interviews.

    Such informal deals mark a significant tactical shift in the Iraq war and represent a potentially risky effort to enlist former U.S. foes in the battle against hard-line militants. Despite a White House report last week concluding that a formal amnesty initiative would be "counterproductive" for Iraq today, U.S. military officials in Iraq believe that successful counterinsurgency campaigns almost always involve some form of forgiveness as a means to ending the fighting and achieving political reconciliation.

    Though no formal arrangement exists for granting amnesty to insurgents, the current deals amount to a kind of don't-ask-don't-tell pardon system. U.S. forces cooperate with former enemies in exchange for information about roadside bombs, weapons caches and sanctuaries of al-Qaeda in Iraq, the mainly Iraqi group that has sought to intensify the country's low-level civil war ...

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    This Charles Krauthammer editorial is informative in how neoconservative views have "evolved" due to events.

    The 20 Percent Solution - Charles Krauthammer, 20 July.

    Amid the Senate's all-night pillow fight and other Iraq grandstanding, real things are happening on the ground in Iraq. They consist of more than just a surge of U.S. troop levels. Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker have engaged us in a far-reaching and fundamental political shift. Call it the 20 percent solution.

    Ever since the December 2005 Iraqi elections, the United States has been waiting for the central government in Baghdad to pass grand national accords on oil, federalism and de-Baathification to unify and pacify the country. The Maliki government has proved too sectarian, too weak and perhaps too disposed to Iranian interests to rise to the task.

    The Democrats cite this incapacity as a reason to give up and get out. A tempting thought, but ultimately self-destructive to our interests. Accordingly, Petraeus and Crocker have found a Plan B: pacify the country region by region, principally by getting Sunnis to join the fight against al-Qaeda.

    This has begun to happen in Anbar and Diyala. First, because al-Qaeda are foreigners. So are we, but -- reason No. 2 -- unlike them, we are not barbarous. We don't amputate fingers for smoking, decapitate with pleasure and kill Shiites for sport.

    Third, al-Qaeda's objectives are not the Sunnis'. Al-Qaeda adherents live for endless war and a reborn caliphate. Ultimately, they live to die. Iraqi Sunnis are not looking for a heavenly date with 72 virgins. They are looking for a deal, and perhaps just survival after U.S. troops are gone.

    That's why so many Sunnis have accepted Petraeus's bargain -- they join our fight against al-Qaeda, and we give them weaponry and military support. With that, they can rid themselves of the al-Qaeda cancer now. And later, when the Americans inevitably leave, they'll be better positioned to defend themselves against the 80 percent Shiite-Kurd majority they are beginning to realize they may have unwisely taken on.

    The bargain is certainly working for us. The recent capture of the leading Iraqi in al-Qaeda's Iraq affiliate is no accident, comrade. You capture such people only when you have good intelligence, and you have good intelligence only when the locals have turned against the terrorists ...

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    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jedburgh View Post
    The problem is that the fight we face in Iraq isn't a just a COIN fight. As others have mentioned on this board (I believe Bill Moore has put it very well a few times), in Iraq we have elements of COIN, terrorism, civil war/sectarian fighting, inter & intra militia warfare, and plain old fashioned brutal criminal gangs - all of this as we attempt to help the Iraqis forge a new democratic state in a country which has no history of such a thing.

    Success is not impossible. But it's damn hard when you don't know what the hell you're doing.

    What I keep trumpeting is the idea that there will be NO "stand alone" COIN operations any more. Insurgency which is "nested" in complex conflicts are the norm. And that's why I keep slamming the 3-24 version: to a large extent, it still treats COIN like a stand alone, state-to-state activity.

    (And I should be writing that in the other window on my computer where I'm drafting an article entitled "Counterinsurgency in American Strategy.")

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    I saw a CNN report this AM and President Bush was in there expansively saying how good this was....

    My question was, "good for whom?" Not really rhetorical because I believe I know the answer. It is good for the short term and good for all partners in it for that term. It can be very bad for the long term and is completely counter to the idea of a unified Iraq.

    Immediately after the President, the Iraqi Minister of the Interior (I think), a Shia (according to the report) was decrying the relationships as America overstepping its powers. Big surprise that...

    Tom

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    Council Member Abu Buckwheat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    I saw a CNN report this AM and President Bush was in there expansively saying how good this was....

    My question was, "good for whom?" Not really rhetorical because I believe I know the answer. It is good for the short term and good for all partners in it for that term. It can be very bad for the long term and is completely counter to the idea of a unified Iraq.

    Immediately after the President, the Iraqi Minister of the Interior (I think), a Shia (according to the report) was decrying the relationships as America overstepping its powers. Big surprise that...

    Tom
    Three words keeping popping back into my head ... over and over ... they spell out just how good the Sunni (read: former-regime) people are at reading us, supplying us with what we think we need, acquiesing to our fantasies and then HAMMERING US for our trust and faith ...

    Fallujah Protective Brigade ...
    Fallujah Protective Brigade ...
    Fallujah Protective Brigade ...

    Its like the Iraq Camel-souk mantra for "Look out Suckers."
    Putting Foot to Al Qaeda Ass Since 1993

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    Default The Sunni awakening

    O agree with Tom that the issue is much more complex, but perhaps in a different way. We have been trying for months to get the Shia to make a movement int he reconciliation process to no avail. What we are demonstrating indirectly is the price of that intransigence. We also also getting some help in eliminating as many al Qaeda cells as possibles before the Democrats force a retreat. Without the political pressure for retreat, we might have been more patient. I think the Sunni's also recognize that e are about to be forced out by politics and they are trying to position themselves to fend off what comes after we leave.

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