So much for “bottom-up reconciliation.” It’s Sheikh Ali Hatem Ali Suleiman, deputy head of the biggest tribal confederation in Anbar, the Dulaim. He pops up from time to time in news articles criticizing the U.S., the Iraqi government, his fellow tribesmen, etc etc. Most recently he was McClatchy’s source for a report on the massive extortion racket Al Qaeda is running against building projects flush with American reconstruction funds. Bill Ardolino heard the same stories when he was Fallujah back in January.
A few glimmers of hope here — he seems reasonably well disposed towards Maliki, if no one else, and seems open to the idea of true representation for Anbar in parliament, which suggests he accepts the basic legitimacy of the new system — but long-term reconciliation with the Shia and even short-term reconciliation with the Americans looks shaky. Click the image to watch.
Update: Things are better in Baghdad, the LAT concedes, but as far as the surge having cleared the battle space for any long-term solutions, the results are “dispiriting.”