September 16, 2007

Anbar the Model?

Blowback is not just for Americans anymore.

KUT, Iraq — American commanders in southern Iraq say Shiite sheiks are showing interest in joining forces with the U.S. military against extremists, in much the same way that Sunni clansmen in the western part of the country have worked with American forces against Al Qaeda.

Sheik Majid Tahir al-Magsousi, the leader of the Migasees tribe here in Wasit Province, acknowledged tribal leaders have discussed creating a brigade of young men trained by the Americans to bolster local security as well as help patrol the border with Iran.

He also said last week’s assassination of Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha, who spearheaded the Sunni uprising against Al Qaeda in Anbar province, only made the Shiite tribal leaders more resolute.

“The death of Sheik Abu Risha will not thwart us,” he said. “What matters to us is Iraq and its safety.”

The movement by Shiite clan leaders is still in the early stages but offers the potential to give U.S. and Iraqi forces another tactical advantage in curbing lawlessness in Shiite areas. It also would give the Americans another resource as they beef up their presence on the border with Iran, which the military accuses of arming and training Shiite extremists.
My next article from Ramadi is almost finished. Stay tuned.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at September 16, 2007 6:36 PM

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