Jun 25 2007

Winning Hearts And Minds In Iraq

Published by at 10:53 am under All General Discussions,Diyala,Iraq

Update: Michael Yon is reporting in again and sees things on the ground basically the same way I have seen them distantly through the lense of the media:

Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) had tarnished its name here by publicly attacking and murdering children, videotaping beheadings, all while imposing harsh punishments on Iraqi civilians found guilty of violating morality laws prohibiting activities like smoking. The AQI installed Sharia court had sanctioned the amputation of the two “smoking fingers” for those who violated anti-smoking laws. In part because local sentiment was shifting against it, AQI synthesized with other groups and undertook an image makeover, christening itself “The Islamic State of Iraq.” But the new name was just lipstick on a pig here.

On the evening of the 24th I spoke with a local Iraqi official, Colonel Faik, who said the Muftis would order the severance of the two fingers used to hold a cigarette for any Iraqis caught smoking. Other reports, from here in Diyala and also in Anbar, allege that smokers are murdered by AQI. Most Iraqis smoke and this particular prohibition appeared to have earned the ire of many locals. After an American unit cleared an apartment complex on the 23rd, LTC Smiley, the battalion commander, reported that residents didn’t ask for food and water, but cigarettes. In other parts of Baqubah, people have been celebrating the routing of AQI by lighting up and smoking cigarettes.

Yep the power of nicotine. Needless to say there is no love lost for the al-Qaeda being routed in Diyala. So goes Diyala so goes Iraq.

– end update

The most intriguing element of the Surge in Iraq is the fact that so much of the Iraqis population that has spent any amount of time under the jack-boot of al-Qaeda’s brutal authority is more than willing to rise up and take up arms to dispell Iraq of the Islamo-Fascists. But as we learn about the conditions under al-Qaeda’s rule we understand why the new Iraq government and the US is such an easy option to gratefully grab hold of:

Operation Arrowhead Ripper entered its fifth day Saturday, with Iraqi Security Forces and Task Force Lightning continuing to conduct combined operations in and around Baqouba, Iraq, to rid the city of al-Qaida.

In addition to combat operations, Iraqi Security Forces and the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, delivered three truckloads of rice, flour and school supplies to Baqouba residents Saturday.

Iraqi soldiers distributed 20,000 pounds of rice and flour, along with 300 cases of water, to an estimated 1,500 Baqouba residents. The provisions were dropped off within 96 hours of beginning combat operations.

“The mission was a success largely due to the compassion of the Iraqi soldiers who led the mission,” said Lt. Col. Fred Johnson, deputy commanding officer of 3-2 SBCT. “3-2 SBCT Soldiers provided outer security, but the Iraqi Army and police did the heavy lifting passing out the food and water and also provided local security. I think it’s important to note that it was the Iraqi soldiers who first identified the need to provide food to the locals after talking to the citizens about their situation. Many of the locals were especially appreciative because food had been scarce when al-Qaida controlled the neighborhoods.”

Clearly al-Qaeda is not ‘governing’ but ‘dominating’ people under its authority. If they cannot provide the basics, like food, then any large population is going to willing to throw them off and try something else. But it is much worse than that in the dark world of al-Qaeda (which some strange people still pretend doesn’t even exist:

Iraqi Security Forces and Task Force Lightning Soldiers discovered an execution house and an illegal prison in the Baqouba neighborhood of Khatoon Sunday during the sixth day of Operation Arrowhead Ripper.

The two buildings were in the same area as a torture chamber and illegal courthouse linked to al-Qaida, which were found on the fourth and fifth day of the operation.

Soldiers from 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment discovered the execution house using information from local citizens, who said it had been used by al-Qaida. Soldiers searching the house found five bodies buried in the yard behind the building and bloody clothes in several rooms inside it.

Located nearby, a house had been converted into an illegal prison with several numbered rooms and bars covering the building’s windows. Several blind folds were found inside.

Elsewhere in Baqouba, Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment identified a house that was filled with explosives and had been booby trapped. The Soldiers cleared the area and destroyed the house through the use of attack aircraft and indirect fire.

“The fact that we continue to find these booby-trapped houses filled with explosives and torture chambers only reaffirms that al-Qaida has no regard for the safety and welfare of the people of Baqouba – They only want to see death and destruction,” said Col. Gary Patton, chief of staff for Task Force Lightning.

The brutal fact is al-Qaeda does exist, is in Iraq and is one of the most brutal movements mankind has ever unleashed on itself. To deny this is to simply play ostrich with head in sand. The nightmare of al-Qaeda is not going to disappear simply because some close their eyes. However, it will be rolled back and crippled if locals continue to side with us to expel AQ from Iraqi soil, as they continue to do:

ne of the most promising – and most tricky – developments in Iraq has been growing opposition by Sunni tribal leaders to al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Over past months, a tribal coalition has sharply reduced violence in Anbar province, the Sunni region that once hosted the terrorist group. News stories claim this coalition is crumbling. But new tribal alliances are being organized to fight al-Qaeda, along with hard-line Baathist insurgents (known as “Saddamists”).

This is some of the best news out of Iraq, at a time when there is little good news to be had.

These new alliances are emerging not only in Anbar but also in troubled areas around Baghdad, where al-Qaeda and Saddamists fled when pushed out of Anbar.

One example: Shiite members of the tribe known as the Bani Tamim are mobilizing in Diyala province east of Baghdad – in cooperation with Sunni tribes. This is an area where U.S. troops are conducting an offensive. Leaders of the Bani Tamim have 5,000 names of tribesmen willing to fight and to protect vital oil pipelines. They want help from the Americans to do the job.

Another important example: I recently met Sheikh Ali Hatem Suleiman, who has been acting head of the Dulaim confederation, the largest tribal grouping in Anbar. Last week, he met with 200 tribal leaders in Ramadi, where they formed the Council of Sheikhs in Anbar, which wants to work with the Americans against al-Qaeda.

Anbar tribes became even angrier when the Americans disbanded the Iraqi army, which employed many locals. “Because of American behaviors,” says Ali Hatem, “Anbar people allowed al-Qaeda to come in.”

But al-Qaeda eventually alienated the tribes (despite the cash it disbursed). It assassinated clerics and sheikhs, demanded local women as brides, and tried to impose its extreme form of religion. No longer composed mainly of foreign fighters, the group recruited the worst elements of the tribes.

So, over the last year, the tribes began to fight back, helped with American money and arms.

You can second guess decisions that turned our wrong, but what is the point? The reasons for disbanding the army were sound – who knew which people armed to the teeth would be loyal to Saddam (who was still on the run at the time). Reality is the Iraqis had learn the harsh reality of al-Qaeda – not the PR campaign version. The reason al-Qaeda is collapsing so quickly is due to their bloodlustm, and they have no prayer of surviving if the locals start turning on them. And the locals are turning on them in droves. We seem to be swimming in sea change of tips and leads and able to find and destroy a lot of material and bases of operation.

So while al-Qaeda kills and tortures, we liberate. More here, here, and here

16 responses so far

16 Responses to “Winning Hearts And Minds In Iraq”

  1. lurker9876 says:

    Yesterday the mainstream media was honing in with glee on a general’s news about the Iraqi army being unprepared.

    They will eventually be prepared and still need our help. I have no problems with that. Germany was unprepared for many years and needed our help.

    I see that the Iraqi government has delayed or cancelled one month of vacation. Guess they’re having second thoughts….

    The more we liberate the locals, the stronger Iraqi becomes but it’s going to take time. They still consider us infidels but now see us in a new and better light.

  2. MerlinOS2 says:

    Domestic politics forced us into the surge a little to early. More time to season the Iraqi Army and add additional units and police would have helped.

    Even Michael Yon notes the differences between various units of the Iraq Army.

    Some of that can be adjusted to by rotation of troops as the fighting dies down to more stable levels.

  3. lurker9876 says:

    MerlinOS, I would also think that the insurgency, including infiltration, slowed down the buildup of the Iraqi police and army.

    The Iraqi civilians have been so repressed under Saddam that they did not know how to manage a some sort of a democracy even with the Shari’ah law included in their constitution. It takes several generations for young country to get used to the word, “democracy”, in whichever its design.

    I understand that many of the Iraqi soldiers have not been paid in many months but they are willing to fight but eventually want to come home to their families but what job awaits them.

  4. lurker9876 says:

    Also, the problem is that America has always been impatient. Both the mainstream media is impatient and trying to persuade the Americans into voting for the Democratic candidates.

  5. MerlinOS2 says:

    Another good article is here.

    Warning a little four letter word things in the post, but overall it sums up the situation 

  6. thecentercannothold says:

    Strata’s view of the War…. “The Great Escape”

    (from reality)

    not everyone can overlook Yon’s admission that even with
    the supposed “good news” about al Qaeda reported, all in all
    “there is little good news to be had.”

    Oh and Strata, no sell:

    “The most intriguing element of the Surge in Iraq is the fact that so much of the Iraqis population that has spent any amount of time under the jack-boot of al-Qaeda’s brutal authority is more than willing to rise up and take up arms to dispell Iraq of the Islamo-Fascists”

    Seeing as how almost all the members of the new government of Iraq, replete with their ethnic militias, are “Islamo-facists” by your earlier definitions.

  7. thecentercannothold says:

    Lurker, please

    “Germany was unprepared for many years and needed our help.

    You don’t have years. You’ve got until autumn when the
    Repubs start bailing to save their skin.
    No matter! The Iraqis, unlike the Germans, were not
    conquered. They will continue fighting the occupation
    as long as it occupies.

  8. DaleinAtlanta says:

    The Iraqis, unlike the Germans, were not
    conquered. They will continue fighting the occupation
    as long as it occupies.

    Left by thecentercannothold on June 25th, 2007


  9. thecentercannothold says:


    AJ might want to distract himself from the phony al Qaeda
    feint and comment on the continuing rupture of the Iraqi government,such a fine example of American-led (actually
    Sistani forced Bush’s hand) democratic process.

  10. thecentercannothold says:


    proof Americans are dangerous fools whose Empire should be dismantled .

  11. DaleinAtlanta says:


  12. thecentercannothold says:


    the backlash is coming to the hidden agenda you assist Ratdale;
    thanks for outing the Rebbe’s “overrepresentation” deception when it really matters, however.
    Rebbe-better listen to Phillip Weiss.

  13. DaleinAtlanta says:


  14. lurker9876 says:


  15. thecentercannothold says:

    The truth makes you war mongers –and war losers batty, I know.

  16. thecentercannothold says:

    “And its one-two-three-four what are we fightin’ for?
    Don’t ask me I don’t give a damn..just lose ’em in the desert sand.”

    AJ you’re a musician, why don’t you crank out a recording..to the tune of Country Joe’s famous ditty?