Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Perspective: US losing ground through tribal allies

Above: 'Recruits' for 1st Brigade 1st Iraqi Army Division wait to be searched before being processed at Camp Tiger in Ramadi on May 27th. Under a new American plan, tribal members who are 'former' insurgents are being provided arms and uniforms to fight al-Qaeda.

RAMADI, Iraq - Attempts by the US military to win over tribal collaborators in al-Anbar province have won it more enemies instead.

The US has launched one of its biggest military operations to date to regain control of al-Anbar, to the west of Baghdad. It lost control over the region more than a year ago.

The province, which represents a third of the total area of the country and is inhabited by roughly 2.5 million people, mostly Sunni Muslims, has stood firm against the US occupation of Iraq since March 2003...

This year US military authorities worked to firm up a tribal coalition that they said would oppose al-Qaeda terror groups.

Unnamed officials in the administration of US President George W Bush have made claims to reporters that the move has reduced violence in Anbar, but residents in the area think otherwise.

"It started with the so-called campaign 'Awakening of al-Anbar', then it developed into forming 'The Revolutionary Force for Anbar Salvation'," said Hamid Alwani, a prominent tribal leader in Ramadi. "This was supposed to be a local fight between al-Qaeda and the local people of al-Anbar, but in fact we all realized the Americans meant us to fight our brothers of the Iraqi resistance."

Read the rest at Asia Times