Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Sheiks Cycle Past Al-Qaeda, at last

One sign, in a sea that otherwise looks like chaos, that the struggle within Islam is benefiting from the ...er, "journey" that is OIF. From Taji, that massive logistical depot that the U.S. has built for the ISF:

TAJI, Iraq — Mirroring a nationwide trend, tribes near Baghdad are on the verge of banding together against alalaQaidand have met with U.S. military officials seeking aid and guidance in fighting the terrorist network.
Despite an ongoing campaign of murder and intimidation, Fallujah continues to make rebuilding and economic progress. Ar-Ramdi and some places in vicinity are reported to have the tide turned decisively in favor of basic security. Iraq-the-Model blog covers a report that at least two Anbar sheiks have indicated that the post al-qeada political landscape looks geared toward a competent, civil government, not just clan-based justice.

Despite ongoing casualty rates that ought to be considered high, the military continues to pressure the insurgency, with considerable effectiveness in some areas:

WASHINGTON, May 20, 2007 – Operation Harris Ba’sil sil wrapped up after helping knock enemy forces in Iraq’s western Anbar Anbarnce off balance, officials involved in the operation reported today.


The operation, dubbed “Valiant Guardian,” involved nearly 4,000 Marines, soldiers and sailors covering most of the 30,000 square miles of RCT RCT operating area.

“We uncovered over 250 caches, arrested over 250 suspected insurgents and discovered over 100 improvised explosive devices,” said Lt. Col. Michael Manning, RCT RCT operations officer. “We clearly surprised them. The number of caches and detainees attest to that, but more importantly, we let the enemy know that they can’t hide from us.”
Meanwhile, it appears that models of cooperation between the "occupiers" and the citizenry appear to be having some pull. Petreaus is making tip-toes into the power-base of Sadr-city, in what will hopefully become a virtuous circle.

BAGHDAD - The U.S. military is engaged in delicate negotiations inside Sadr City to clear the way for a gradual push in coming weeks by more American and Iraqi forces into the volatile Shiite enclave of more than 2 million people, one of the most daunting challenges of the campaign to stabilize Baghdad.
Lacking sufficient troops so far to move deeper into Sadr City, the military has cautiously edged into the southern part, conducting searches and patrols, handing out supplies and using offers of economic aid to try to overcome resistance. Meanwhile, U.S. Special Operations forces and other U.S. and Iraqi troops have detained militia leaders in an effort to weaken their organization.
In the South, a $3-billion (yes, billion) dollar project for a new airport at Karbala has reached final approval and financing stages.

Economic "revitalization" - a nifty euphemism - appears to be slow, but not without spot successes. Buy Iraqi at a mall this fall:

Yesterday [5/17/07], Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the commander of Multinational Force Iraq, visited a large textile factory in Najaf where 1,800 Iraqis have returned to work, Brinkley said. The clothing made in that factory is being reviewed by Western retail outlets

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