Information operations

Baghdad Ten Years Ago – 6 May 07: A Time to Act

WEEK 25: A historic moment when the Sunni Awakening hits the outer edges of western Baghdad. Otherwise, history hasn’t changed as Saudi Arabia and Iran proxies settle their differences on others soil.

A Time to Act

If it were up to me, I probably would not have done it (Operation Iraqi Freedom),” I remarked to the congressman.  “But, it doesn’t matter,” I continued, “We as a nation have to figure this out.  We have a lot riding on Iraq.”

The congressman paused, glanced down at his lunch then back up at me and replied, “I don’t want to see us caught in a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia.”  “It may be a little late for that,” I thought to myself.  I didn’t say this because I would have been out of my lane if I did (looking back on it, I should have said this).

A few months ago, I thought the Iraqis were engaged in a civil war.  I am no longer certain this is accurate.   The good news is that I don’t think the conflict is really a civil war although it could become one.

Popular handbill targeting Shia militias who were extorting a gas tax at the pump – “Why does my pocket feel twice as light?”

Next, I thought we were the lid sitting on a pressure cooker of a global Pan-Islamic war.  Instead of a proxy war, I wonder what the congressman would think of a global Pan-Islamic war.


It is somewhere in between these and a Saudi-Iran proxy war.  I guess the best way to describe it is a global Pan-Islamic Sunni Shia extremist proxy war fought through Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iran in Iraq.  If we focus our efforts on the vilest extremists, Al Qaeda, perhaps the rest of the country can move forward.

This week we saw more instances of the Sunni rising against the extremists Al Qaeda in Iraq and the Islamic State of Iraq.  The Iraqi Sunni realize they are in a fight for their livelihood and their country.

Iraqi cartoon mocking Sunni terrorists who teach their children to make bombs.

The extremists the Sunni tribes fight are ruthless.  They kill quickly and they kill everything.  The Sunni tribes in the Baghdad security belt are under pressure.  They need to act quickly and route the extremists before they are consumed.

We need to act quickly.  While we have focused much of our efforts on the city of Baghdad, our newest priority may lie on the city’s periphery.  Out west, the Sunni Zoba’i tribe is trying to stave off Al Qaeda.  Further west, the Anbar Salvation council is having success fighting Al Qaeda.  Today, the government acknowledged the tribes support.  Surely, we can bring the success from the Anbar Province to Abu Ghraib.

From Abu Ghraib, we need to extend the Sunni fight on Al Qaeda into the Mansour District.  We are already engaging tribes towards Taji and Southeast towards Mahmudiya.  We have to tie the knot around Baghdad.  This week, the tribes around Taji killed senior Al Qaeda leaders and members of the Islamic State of Iraq.  The tribes in South Baghdad fight Al Qaeda everyday.  We need to ensure we have a unified purpose – enable the tribes to defeat Al Qaeda in Iraq.

OPERATION Iraqi Freedom
Eventually, the Sunni tribal reconciliation that started in the west would lead to greater reconciliation across Baghdad. This photo is from Taji, north of Baghdad, later in 2007.

On Iraqiya, the Deputy Prime Minister, Salam al Zoba’i – a Sunni who Al Qaeda attempted to assassinate, praised the hard work of the Iraqi Security Forces executing Fardh al Qanoon.  The Defense Minister, another Sunni, visited a Joint Security Station in Karkh to meet with the local citizens.  From security to communications, the timing is right.

No more time for delay.  We must energize our tribal and government engagement efforts to complement each other.  This will improve security and other areas as the tribes become empowered and use their influence and knowledge.