September 21, 2007

Diyala Tribes Begin Their Own Awakening

Most of the major tribes in the Iraqi province of Diyala have signed agreements to support US and Iraqi forces against extremists, a development that has already resulted in a sharp improvement in intelligence flowing to security forces in the region. Just as in Anbar, the surge in the key province has resulted in a significant shift in allegiances. Unlike Anbar, however, it doesn't just involve Sunnis:

Most of the major tribes in a strategic province northeast of Baghdad have signed agreements to support U.S. and Iraqi forces, a sign the alliance-building initiative that started in Anbar province is spreading.

In Diyala province, tribal leaders representing 20 of the province's 25 major tribes have signed agreements brokered by the local government, said Army Col. David Sutherland, a brigade commander there.

The shift has led to more tips from citizens and a reduction in violence, the U.S. military says. Weekly attacks in Diyala province have declined from an average of 125 three months ago to 70 last week.

Diyala, as some might recall, became the center of the new al-Qaeda in Iraq caliphate after the surge displaced AQI from Ramadi and Fallujah. When they ran out of Anbar, they headed for Diyala and Baqubah, closer to the Iranian border where they could keep their lines of communication open with the mullahcracy in Teheran that supplies them with weapons. The surge forces only recently shifted their attention to this key province, and violence has dropped as AQI looks for another caliphate center.

This province has more strategic value to the US and Iraqi forces than Anbar. The mix of Sunnis, Shi'a, and Kurds makes it more of a challenge to unite against the extremists. AQI exploited sectarian divisions there and prompted a Shi'ite extremist reaction. The new agreement with the tribes applies to extremists in both directions and acknowledges the Iraqi army and government forces as the ultimate authority, a rather significant step for Diyala.

The success with the agreements, made within local government structures, shows yet another success from the new, aggressive American policy in Iraq. While the space it has given Iraq's central government has not yet produced the reforms we demanded, it has allowed the local tribes some room to see that they do not have to live in fear of violence, as they did in these areas while the extremists attempted to spark a civil war. The "ground-up" strategy of working with tribes to gain unity on security issues will create a more permanent stability, within which the people of Iraq can demand those kinds of reforms through a normal political process.

It's good news that we have made allies in Diyala. It could mean more effectiveness at curtailing Iranian infiltration and influence, which will lead to less violence and death. The Diyala "awakening" would create an even better model than Anbar, if it holds.


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Comments (11)

Posted by Keemo | September 21, 2007 7:58 AM

The news coming out of Iraq continues to be "good news for Americans; bad news for the crowd & their leaders "Soros and the Clinton's".

BAGHDAD (AFP) — Violence across Iraq has fallen to its lowest level since before the bombing of a Shiite mosque in February 2006 that sparked savage sectarian bloodletting, a US military commander said on Thursday.

There has also been a 50 percent fall-off in violence in Baghdad since January, Lieutenant General Ray Odierno, the number two commander of US-led forces in Iraq, told a press conference in Baghdad.

"Attacks nationwide have fallen to the lowest level since before the Golden Mosque bombing," he said, referring to a bombing which destroyed the revered shrine in Samarra and unleashed a relentless wave of reprisals and counter-reprisals across Iraq that has already killed thousands of Iraqis.

"Car bombs and suicide attacks have dropped to their lowest level in a year," Odierno said. "Attacks in Baghdad have reached the lowest level this year and the trend continues to be down."

Civilian casualties had dropped from a high of about 32 per day to 12 per day, the US commander said.

"Al-Qaeda in Iraq is increasingly being pushed out of Baghdad and the surrounding areas," he said. "We are starting to see a normalization of life across Iraq and also in Baghdad."

Posted by coldwarrior415 | September 21, 2007 9:01 AM

I have noticed something is missing on the nightly network and cable news programs over the past couple months.

Where are the nightly billowing clouds of thick dark oily smoke rising over Baghdad? Where is the nightly wail of sirens and screams of the dozens and dozens of dying and injured people strewn across my TV screen every evening?

Where is that wonderfully vivid prime time television splatter of blood and body parts from yet another massive car bombing or insurgent attack in Baghdad?

Used to have one every night, really, every night, and at dinner time, too.

CBS, NBS, ABC and the cable networks shoved report after bloddy televised report out of my TV each and every night, sometimes many of them, showing the daily carnage all across Iraq...put me right off my Lobster Bisque many many times...had to change my dinner time or turn off the TV quite often, sometimes.

I miss that...great video.

According to those who "know," the cognoscente on the Left, nothing is going well in Iraq, we are losing, the Iraqis are losing, there is no tangible evidence that things are improving in Anbar, in Diyala, in Baghdad, is constant carnage and killing and...well, you know, like nothing is working...we are losing.

So, what happened to my nightly mega-dose of blood, bombing and carnage video from CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, MSNBC, and all the rest? Have all the networks suddenly become pro-Administration and are excerising prior restraint all of a sudden?

Just wondered, that's all.

Posted by dougf | September 21, 2007 9:10 AM

"Car bombs and suicide attacks have dropped to their lowest level in a year," Odierno said. "Attacks in Baghdad have reached the lowest level this year and the trend continues to be down."

I will leave it to the 'usual suspects' to interject their defeatist cant into the thread, but the thing that is not getting much coverage at the moment is the situation in the Shia South.
Does anyone have good information on what is happening there ? I know that the Sadr fascists are fighting with the SCRII not-nearly-as-bad-fascists for control there, but there seems to be almost no detail available. Instead of a Sunni/Shia War, I really expect a Shia/Shia battle for control. This is the battle that really must be 'won'.

I assume that the US is lining up against the Sadrists but does anyone have a clearer picture?

How I wish the Bush Regime had truly been the 'imperialists' they are portrayed. Then Sadr and his chief thugs, would have been dead for 3 years now and the problem he poses, mostly removed with him. Instead ---

Posted by Publius Hamilton | September 21, 2007 9:14 AM

I'm sure Reid and Pelosi will find something negative to say about this. Their investment in defeat and surrender is tanking faster than Enron stock...

Posted by NoDonkey | September 21, 2007 10:04 AM

Wow, four posts without one of the usual suspects rushing in to tell us how none of this matters because yada, yada, yada.

Of course, as always, the solution is to cut and run now, Bush's fault, yada, yada, yada.

My bet is on post #10. It's almost 11 on the east coast, so the lefties should be crawling out of bed and trudging down to mommy's basement any time now.

Posted by David M | September 21, 2007 10:29 AM

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Posted by mike | September 21, 2007 11:07 AM

I hope the guy that just tried to tell me on the 9/11 site vist thread, that Iran was NOT supplying AQI gets a chance to comment here. I find it amazing that there are so many people in America that will put up with anything in order to get their leftist agenda forwarded. Somehwo they are not smart enough to understnad that if they got their way and America lost this war, they would be the first to be taken to the pock-marked wall by the Islamists. The Mulahs hate gays, drug users, and political activists of all stripes.

Posted by dhunter | September 21, 2007 12:21 PM

Now that things are looking up in Iraq, I find myself in agreement with the Dems, perhaps we should redeploy.... to IRAN.

Posted by mike | September 21, 2007 1:25 PM

"Now that things are looking up in Iraq, I find myself in agreement with the Dems, perhaps we should redeploy.... to IRAN."

Roger that!

Posted by Fight4TheRight | September 21, 2007 3:37 PM

I do second that motion dhunter!

Now, I'm sure the majority of Democrat Senators and Congressmen have never heard of Diyala Province, as most of them customarily miss any update reports on the war in Iraq, so they wouldn't recognize the significance of this.

But the fact of the mater is this. The vast majority of attacks in Baghdad in the last year were planned, staged and exported out of Diyala province and so this is HUGE news. If this "awakening" holds together, not only will it force Al Qaeda completely out of the province (and in essence they would have to go North), it will also greatly reduce the attacks going on in Baghdad. It's really rather simple. General Petraeus, you know...the General who so impressed Democratic Senators that they unanimously approved him then turned on him to call him a liar within 10 months, has effectively executed a plan that has put Al Qaeda more and more out of reach of even GETTING INTO Baghdad.

History will write about Petraeus' strategies and execution. And it will point to brilliance and dedication and hard-nosed will.

Posted by ajacksonian | September 21, 2007 3:43 PM

The reason for Diyala being so critical is given by Michael Yon in Baqubah update: "But food shipments have resumed to Baqubah after 10 months of nothing. Not that Diyala Province is starving: Diyala is, after all, Iraq’s breadbasket."

One of the major things to do for processing grain was to get the grain mills open again, and that process started on 18 AUG 2007, starting with US grain. That means that folks get employed, distribution networks set up, fuel is supplied, water is going. Grain mills need those things. In his dispatches someone made the basic point: as Iraq is to oil, so Baqubah is to Iraq. Baqubah and Diyala province, in general, are some of the most fertile land in the Middle East, that is why it is called 'The Fertile Crescent'. While drier now than it was 3,000 years ago, the underlying richness of the soil was still enough before Saddam to supply the Nation with food and enough to export.

In Diyala Sunni and Shia, Kurd and Arab and Yezidi and others all have a confluence to grow food. Al Qaeda holding *that* put Iraq at peril.

As in Ramadi with the opening of factories to employ people so it is in Diyala, too. Processing raw material to finished goods requires an intensive supply chain that works, day-in and day-out. The lessons of James Burke in the series Connections comes to the forefront: if your infrastructure is taken out permanently, what do you do? Iraq was not and is not at square one, on that, and have much necessary to get things going. Working to integrate all of it is a bottom-up necessity, and a learning experience for all involved. The US hasn't tried to accomplish something like this under fire in decades, and training for that is nearly impossible without application experience. And no one, in the Western world, would even think of using tribal affiliations and societal views to apply this sort of thing - our own tribal past is too many centuries behind us and the blood feuds of generations gone to become just stories, not emotionally wrenching and meaningful retellings of history. And yet we adjust and learn, and see that people can be understood across cultures that are so vastly different. Until we are reminded, again, of our own past and realize that we are not so far different when we look at our names from clans and regions and families centuries back.

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