Sunni sheikhs in Anbar form anti-jihadi political party

posted at 8:10 pm on April 20, 2007 by Allahpundit

It’s not often you get undiluted good news from Iraq. Enjoy it.

A group of Sunni tribal leaders in beleaguered Al Anbar province said Thursday that it intended to form a national party to oppose insurgents such as Al Qaeda in Iraq and reengage with Iraq’s political process.

The announcement came after 200 sheiks said to represent 50 tribes met here and agreed to form a provincial sheiks council and hold the first convention in May of their new party, called Iraq Awakening. Sheiks from three other provinces will attend, organizers said.

The driving force behind the new party, Sheik Abdul-Sattar abu Risha, said in an interview that the tribal leaders would be pushing a slate of candidates in Al Anbar provincial elections later this year, as well as in the next round of national parliamentary balloting, scheduled for 2009.

One purpose of the party, Sattar said, is to promote a better image of American-led forces “to the Iraqis here.” He added that the tribes also would participate in a U.S.-backed effort to reestablish a court system in Ramadi, the provincial capital.

American KIAs in Anbar as a total percentage of American KIAs in country have dropped from 45% between December to February to 12% from February to April. Combat deaths are way up in Baghdad over the same period, though, due no doubt in part to the fact that jihadis are trying to spoil the surge in the capital but surely also because Anbar has become increasingly hostile terrain for them. And not just because of the sheikhs, either:

At least two major insurgent groups are battling al-Qaida in provinces outside Baghdad, American military commanders said Friday, an indication of a deepening rift between Sunni guerrilla groups in Iraq…

The clashes have erupted over the last two to three months, pitting al-Qaida in Iraq against the nationalist 1920 Revolution Brigades in Diyala and Salahuddin provinces north of Baghdad as well as Anbar to the west, U.S. officers said. In Diyala, another hard-line militant Sunni group, the Ansar al-Sunna Army, is also fighting al-Qaida, they said.

“It’s happening daily,” Lt. Col. Keith Gogas said Thursday in an interview at an Army base in Muqdadiyah, 60 miles northeast of Baghdad. “Our read on it is that that the more moderate, if you will, Sunni insurgents, are finding that their goals and al-Qaida’s goals are at odds.”

Calling Ansar al-Sunna “moderate,” even in relative terms, is absurd, and it’s more than a little worrisome that three different terrorist groups would have sufficient presences in Diyala as to be rubbing up against each other. But I guess that’s why Petraeus is sending 3,000 troops. Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Michael Barbero claimed today at a press briefing that the military has reason to believe Sunni car bombs are being supplied by … Iran. Quote: “Detainees in American custody have indicated that Iranian intelligence operatives have given support to Sunni insurgents. And then we’ve discovered some munitions in Baghdad neighborhoods which are largely Sunni that were manufactured in Iran.” That’s not the first time we’ve heard of Iran watering both sides to fertilize a civil war that will drive the Americans out (and which Iraqi Shiites will inevitably win), but since it explodes the conventional wisdom about the usefulness of dialogue with Iran and our alleged “shared interest” in Iraq’s stability, the left will dismiss it out of hand.

I’ll leave you with a few odds and ends: Eugene Volokh on enemy media’s Harry Reid propaganda bonanza; the L.A. Times on the indelibility of pessimism in Baghdad; and the Chronicle of Higher Education on the conspicuous reluctance of the authors of the infamous Lancet study to share details about how it was conducted. I can understand them wanting to keep the names of the interviewers secret, but why not identify the neighborhoods?

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NEMETI IN SYRACUSE on April 20, 2007 at 8:23 PM

Sort of good news and bad all at the same time, dontcha think?
If Harry surrender now Reid’s lost war claim is bolstering the enemy then why are the Sheik’s in Anwar now cozying up to our troops? Unless Iran is taking a que from Unkle Harry and pushing an offensive from behind the scenes?

I would still like to see how the surge fares out. I think it has been successful so far…

Kini on April 20, 2007 at 8:42 PM


Sorry to bore you. Want your money back?

Allahpundit on April 20, 2007 at 8:47 PM

I’m not bored. I’m just glad you regained the sense of (cautious) optimism you lost before the elections, Allah.

Good on ya!

And don’t sweat it. Diyala has always been a shiite-hole. It’s just getting press (and a much needed heavy military focus) now. All will be well.

SailorDave on April 20, 2007 at 9:05 PM

We have a trickle now of good news over the past week from Iraq. I hope and believe it will become a torrent over the next 6 months.

Don’t get so jaded that this kind of news falls on deaf ears. This is a big deal and I applaud Allahpundit for posting it and giving it the attention it deserves. This kind of news from Iraq will eventually keep coming and gather enough velocity to turn the tide of public opinion.

I applaud our men and women in uniform as well as their families. We are going to start harvesting some the seeds we have sown in this bitter struggle. I hope it can give some peace to those who have given and lost so much.

unamused on April 20, 2007 at 9:09 PM

related I think

Exporting War Criminals
April 18, 2007: In western Iraq, only about twenty percent of the Sunni Arab tribes continue to support terrorism and resistance to the government. Until about a year ago, most of the Sunni Arabs, who dominate this area, believed that they could keep the government and Americans out. No more. What scared the western tribes the most has been the Shia terror campaign against the Sunni Arabs in Baghdad. Many of the Sunni Baghdadis have fled to find refuge with kin in western Iraq

read it all

jp on April 20, 2007 at 9:41 PM

Oh no. This cannot be true! Harry Reid says the war is lost!

csdeven on April 20, 2007 at 10:18 PM

This does not look like losing. This can’t be confused with losing.

shooter on April 20, 2007 at 10:19 PM

That’s not the first time we’ve heard of Iran watering both sides to fertilize a civil war that will drive the Americans out (and which Iraqi Shiites will inevitably win), but since it explodes the conventional wisdom about the usefulness of dialogue with Iran and our alleged “shared interest” in Iraq’s stability, the left will dismiss it out of hand.

Am I being to optimistic to believe the Shia will greatly resent being used as pawns by their Iranian brethren?

Bill C on April 20, 2007 at 10:43 PM

One purpose of the party, Sattar said, is to promote a better image of American-led forces “to the Iraqis here.”

We need them to lecture to The DNC

– The Cat

MirCat on April 20, 2007 at 11:02 PM

That’s the problem with Harry Reid’s statement, incidents like this, happening all over the world, because of the surge and successes by US and Coalition forces, it IS having an EFFECT, we ARE WINNING, slowly, yes, adapting to new tactics, yes, finally understanding a culture where your enemy will strap on a bomb to a kid in a wheel chair, roll him into a check-point or market, and press the cell phone…………

No, Harry Reid, “We just killed the Patriot Act”, “Our troops are as bad as the Nazis”, “We are going to ‘Slow Bleed’ the conflict”, “We are going to attach conditions of surrender to funding legislation”, “We are going to defund the war”………………….. “President Bush LOST the war…..”

Hey Harry, your words are currently being circulated all over the Middle East and Third World, feeding the propoganda machines of dictators to fill the levy of recruits from their brain washed, starving masses.

It may be harsh, but I pray to God, that this arrogance and lack of full concept on the Global War on Terror that we are engaged in, comes back to bite you in the arse, haunts you to the end of your pathetic life, and you die in disgrace, in shame, and history will remember you that way.

God Bless Our Troops……

PinkyBigglesworth on April 20, 2007 at 11:03 PM

Man, let’s hope this leads to some positives. Maybe if the Sunnis finally decide that letting their jihadis blow sh*t up is gonna get them wiped out, and maybe the Shia will keep theirs under control. Sunnis don’t have anything to gain through terrorism, unless they can get the Saudis or other Arab states to intervene on their behalf, if the Shia decided to wipe out the Sunnis, not a damn thing would stop them if we let ’em.

Bad Candy on April 21, 2007 at 12:09 AM

An Awakening?

Sven on April 21, 2007 at 1:51 AM

To understand Harry Reid’s statement you have to understand which side he’s on.

And AP, thanks. Any bit of good news is welcomed.

Buzzy on April 21, 2007 at 2:16 AM

Dirty Harry Reid isn’t going to like this! It would mean that all of America’s work in Iraq is paying off and he and his anti-American Democrat Party can’t have any of this!

lynnv on April 21, 2007 at 8:12 AM