WEEK 36: Sunni tribal engagements continue and gain momentum as Sheik Abdul Sattar Abu Risha delivers. Meanwhile, talking heads back home express skepticism. I take a deep breath and summon the words of Teddy Roosevelt, “It is not the critic who counts.”
Playing with Fire
“Its playing with fire to put out fire and we may very well get burned.”
– Mr. Bruce Reidel, The Brookings Institute
As noted in prior weeks, sometime waffles get burned. I don’t consider Coalition Forces to be waffles. We have been rather adamant about supporting the Government of Iraq and their security forces. I also noted a few weeks ago we cannot allow the Sunni to play the enemy of my enemy card on Coalition Forces once we and the tribes have defeated Al Qaeda.
Yet, the Coalition may bet burned by engaging the tribes to defeat Al Qaeda.
This is a risk. I don’t recall ever hearing peace is not risky. Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King sought peace and paid a great price. In this region of the world, Anwar Sadat sought peace and also paid the price. Sadat’s peace also fueled the fight we have today with Wahabists and Iran.
These fundamentalist Islamic groups have not achieved much in their fight since they killed Sadat. Even though thousands have died on both sides, their fanaticism had failed to overtake any regime or state until Hamas was recently elected to power in Palestine. Hamas has been ineffective at anything accept killing Fatah members – fellow Palestinians – since their election. We cannot, however, dismiss Hamas and their Iranian interlopers.
We can not and will not allow Al Qaeda to have Iraq. Nor should we allow the Iranians to have it. This mission requires a persistent fight and even more persuasive diplomacy. The tribes are the social fabric that binds this nation and we will have to work with them for the good of their nation and our mission. The Sunni and the rest of the tribes will need to support the government if for no other reason but to eradicate Jaysh Al Mahdi and Iranian influence.
This is not easy as Jaysh Al Mahdi and the Iranian influence have infiltrated the government and the security forces.
The Sunni’s are tired of Al Qaeda fanaticism and the Shia are becoming fatigued by Jaysh Al Mahdi. The populace is realizing Iran is sponsoring Jaysh Al Mahdi and its extortionist murdering ways.
Coalition Forces need to continue arresting the corrupt police. We’ll need to encourage the security force to fire inept leaders and, if nothing else, moving the sectarians to other areas or positions. We can’t be shy now about informing the populace of how the Coalition and Government are fighting corruption.
The combined effects created by simultaneously fighting perceived militia legitimacy and identifying the corrupt can change a government official. Consider Deputy Prime Minister Zoba’i. He was a middle of the road politician who would support the government depending on which way the wind was blowing. After Al Qaeda’s assassination attempt, he became an active Government of Iraq supporter. His tribe had enough of Al Qaeda and the Al Qaeda power vacuum allowed him to be an unencumbered leader.
Imagine Nouri al Maliki as an unrestrained leader. I have heard from many sources, albeit second and third hand, the Prime Minister is not sectarian.
He is a decent person who has bad people around him. If we can also engage the Shia tribes, we may be able to choke Jaysh al Mahdi influence in Baghdad. When the Jaysh al Mahdi influence is reduced within the Government of Iraq, perhaps we can get to true reconciliation and peace.
Today, Gandhi, King and even Sadat are remembered for their vision and for their contributions to peace. We remember our departed warriors and peace-keepers by continuing to take risks so they’re sacrifice will not be in vain. For they have given themselves for their friends, their families and complete strangers. They have given themselves so their fellow man can exercise free will.
Despite our frustrations with the Government’s ineptness and the Security Forces sectarianism, we must press our adversaries more than ever. We can turn up the heat so our adversaries get burned first and worst.