Roggio tipped me a few days ago to this MNF-I release about tribal leaders in Diyala province meeting to discuss purging AQ. He was ahead of the curve in reporting the stirrings of a Diyala “awakening” among the local Sunnis similar to the one that’s got Anbar back on track. And now, this morning, what do you know:
U.S. forces rescued 42 Iraqi civilians Sunday from an Al Qaeda hide-out northeast of Baghdad, including some who showed signs of torture and broken bones, a senior U.S. official said…
U.S. forces previously have found a number of houses used by Al Qaeda for detention, including some where prisoners showed signs of torture. But the hide-out raided Sunday in Diyala province was the largest, Caldwell said in a telephone interview. He declined to be more specific about the location, citing security reasons…
Caldwell said a tip to U.S. forces from Iraqis in Diyala led to the rescue operation.
As for that Anbar awakening that the nutroots persists in sneering at
despite the fact that because it’s honest to goodness good news, the BushCo cheerleaders at the Chicago Tribune and Newsweek chime in with their own progress reports today. Verdict: no one can say yet how long it’ll last or how deep the new loyalties are, particularly if the Maliki government doesn’t reward them with reconstruction aid, but for the moment it’s for real. Newsweek:
The Pentagon is praying that its new allies will reconfigure the war. The success of the Ramadi experiment has given rise to hopes that the model can be applied elsewhere in Iraq. A year ago insurgents were launching nearly 30 attacks a day in the city; now the daily average is less than one. Anbar province as a whole is showing similar improvements. Brig. Gen. John R. Allen, deputy commanding general of the Second Marine Expeditionary Force in Anbar and a tribal-affairs expert, describes the province as “a laboratory for counterinsurgency.” From roughly 500 attacks a week, the rate has sunk to barely a third of that figure. Weapons-cache discoveries, based largely on tips from sympathetic Iraqis in Ramadi, have skyrocketed nearly 190 percent. The fledgling local police force could muster only 20 recruits a year ago; today, with local sheiks encouraging tribe members to sign up, it has 8,000…
“We’re not naive,” says Colonel Charlton. “Some police could’ve been insurgents at this time last year. But the sheiks have changed their fundamental understanding of who the threat is—and the threat is Al Qaeda.”
Maliki was in Anbar yesterday to meet with the governor and police, no doubt at the urging of Petraeus and ambassador Ryan Crocker, who accompanied him. Meanwhile, Sadr met with his own inner circle this morning to talk about his plans for a kinder, gentler Mahdi Army — while, around the same time, U.S. troops were raiding Sadr City for the second day in a row and the Brits were hitting JAM forces in Basra. I wonder if the strategy now is to try to bait Sadr into responding with force, which would give us an excuse to put the hurt on him and cripple the movement before we start to draw down troops.
Finally, Zawahiri adds a little more nuance to Ron Paul’s “blowback” theory of jihad by urging the leader of AQ in Iraq to expand the fighting to Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine to form a mini-caliphate of “greater Syria.” See the NBC News report described at the end of this post for more about that.