Tuesday, September 25, 2007
On the Ground in Anbar Province
I've posted links once or twice to Michael Yon's reports from Iraq. Another independant journalist who's been taking time on the ground out in the provinces over the last several years in Michael J. Trotten. Someone turned me on to him a few weeks back, and over the last few days I've been slowly (they're long posts) working through his dispatches from Ramadi, which used to be second only to (if nor surpassing) Fallujah as a "no go" area.
Anbar Awakens Part I: The Battle of Ramadi
Anbar Awakens Part II: Hell is Over
Al Qaeda Lost
One of the officers Trotten spends time with notes an ironic truth: the tribalism which originally made Anbar so resistant to American forces (and allowed Al Qaeda in Iraq to make the area their base) is actually what's made it possible to now make the area significantly more peaceful than major urban areas like Bagdad. Once the sheiks turned around, the tribes followed them, and there's not a great deal of mutual trust between the American officers in the area and the shieks. More urban areas have weaker tribal ties, leaving the playing field more open for sectarian and ideological strife.
In the above poster, it took me a while to realize: those are AK-47s melting down at the bottom. The modern equivalent, I guess, of swords being beaten into plowshares.