March 26, 2007


Sunni sheiks become valuable U.S. allies (TODD PITMAN, 3/26/07, The Associated Press)

Not long ago it would have been unthinkable: a Sunni sheik allying himself publicly with U.S. forces in a xenophobic city at the epicenter of Iraq's Sunni insurgency.

Today, there is no mistaking whose side Sheik Abdul Sattar al-Rishawi is on. Outside his walled home, a U.S. tank is on permanent guard beside a clutch of towering date palms and a protective dirt berm.

The sheik, 36, is leading a growing movement of Sunni tribesmen who have turned against al-Qaida-linked insurgents in Anbar province.

The dramatic shift in alliances may have done more in a few months to ease daily street battles and undercut the insurgency than American forces have achieved in years with arms.

The U.S. commander responsible for Ramadi, Col. John Charlton, said the newly friendly sheiks, combined with an aggressive counterinsurgency strategy and the presence of thousands of new Sunni police on the streets, have helped cut attacks in the city by half in recent months.

A bad thing in the long run, but convenient in the short.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 26, 2007 6:43 AM
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