Unconventional thinking about the Middle East.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Even Der Spiegel Gets It!

Ullrich Fichtner has written an important and nuanced (…as well as long) report about progress in Iraq for Der Spiegel, which should be read in entirety.

Here are some excerpts:

The Iraqis in Ramadi, almost all Sunnis, had been worn down by chronic violence. Many had been victims of kidnappings or blackmail at the hands of mafia-like terrorist groups. They had finally come to the realization that, in the long run, the Americans were less of a threat and offered more hope than the fanatical holy warriors from Iraq and abroad.

Families began sending their sons to join the new Iraqi police force and military and fathers ran for municipal offices. They began cooperating with US military officials, turning in bombers and revealing their weapons caches, all while going about their daily lives, running their businesses, working as contractors, shipping agents and garbage collectors. Teachers returned to their classrooms, doctors began treating patients again and store owners restocked their shelves. Iraqis were now building the barbed wire barriers around the city, constructed to force travelers through checkpoints. Iraqis even manned the checkpoints as the Americans -- the Iraqis' former enemies -- retreated to the background, watching over as the city made a fresh start.

Since June, Ramadi residents have only known the war from televison. Indeed, US military officials at the Baghdad headquarters of Operation Iraqi Freedom often have trouble believing their eyes when they read the reports coming in from their units in Ramadi these days. Exploded car bombs: zero. Detonated roadside bombs: zero. Rocket fire: zero. Grenade fire: zero. Shots from rifles and pistols: zero. Weapons caches discovered: dozens. Terrorists arrested: many.

Ramadi is an irritating contradiction of almost everything the world thinks it knows about Iraq -- it is proof that the US military is more successful than the world wants to believe. Ramadi demonstrates that large parts of Iraq -- not just Anbar Province, but also many other rural areas along the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers -- are essentially pacified today. This is news the world doesn't hear: Ramadi, long a hotbed of unrest, a city that once formed the southwestern tip of the notorious "Sunni Triangle," is now telling a different story, a story of Americans who came here as liberators, became hated occupiers and are now the protectors of Iraqi reconstruction.


Blogger Louise said...

But, but, but...America alienated its friend Germany. I don't understand.

12:51 AM, August 22, 2007

Blogger bg said...


Showcase and Chimera in the Desert

[“America good! Al Qaeda bad!” he said in halting English, flashing a thumb’s-up in the direction of America’s second-ranking commander in Iraq.]

HT : The Mudville Gazettte

Ramadi: Open for Business


["This place is dynamic! The people are working 'round the clock, and it's all positive," said Kristen Hagerstrom, leader of the ePRT (embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team) based in Ramadi. Mrs. Hagerstom spent an hour talking with OnPoint Sunday about the economic and administrative successes in the city.

When 1st Battalion, 6th Marines left Ramadi in June, they'd successfully cleared the city of Al-Quada, and formed a successful partnership with Sheik Sattar al-rishi and his newly-formed "Sons of Anbar." Long before terms like "The Surge" and "Clear-Hold-Build" entered the Pentagon and American public's vocabulary; 1/ 6 Marines had fought and cleared Ramadi and established outposts at 17th Street, the Government Center, Khatanna, and others, and then turned them over to their enthusiastic Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police replacements.

"…and we arrived in April at a perfect time," Mrs. Hagerstrom continued. "the city just had experienced thirteen days without a shot being fired, Mayor Latif was coming into his own as a mayor, and the Sunni's were volunteering to join the police in record numbers." Her ePRT Team arrived soon after 1st BCT, 3rd ID (under Col John Charleton) formally took over Ramadi. 1st BCT's 6,000 Army, Marines, Navy, and Air Force have aggressively and successfully continued to expand these newly positive dynamics.

The Provisional Reconstruction Teams are part of Gen. David Petraeus's counter-insurgency strategy; keep the people employed, get them a salary, and they'll be too busy working being heads of households again to be insurgents.]

[But what is happening these days is possible because of the relations between the Sunnis in Ramadi and Anbar, as led by Sheik Sattar. As he said this winter when being visited by Deputy Under Secretary of State John Negroponte :

I would like to convey greetings from the
Sons of Anbar to the American people.

I want to give my condolences for the American blood shed in the Anbar Province to the American people, and I ask the Army and Marines to stay because we would be an easy target for terrorists. Stay until we gain our strength, and then staying is up to you.


9:08 AM, August 24, 2007

Blogger BrianFH said...

DS is still on and on with the Bush Lied BS, though. There's going to be a big comeuppance for the fools who keep repeating that one.

11:11 PM, August 24, 2007


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