November 29, 2007

Largest Sunni Volunteer Mobilization Launches

The US surge strategy has pushed al-Qaeda to the outer edges of western Iraq and convinced native insurgents to switch sides and fight against the foreign terrorists. AQI has attempted to find a toehold on the perimeter to keep from getting swept out of Iraq entirely, and they have relied on their usual methods of terrorism to gain the acquiescence of the locals. As a result, the US has accepted 6,000 Iraqi Sunnis in a volunteer force to man checkpoints and fight AQI -- the largest volunteer mobilization in Iraq:

Nearly 6,000 Sunni Arab residents joined a security pact with American forces Wednesday in what U.S. officers described as a critical step in plugging the remaining escape routes for extremists flushed from former strongholds.

The new alliance — called the single largest volunteer mobilization since the war began — covers the “last gateway” for groups such as al-Qaida in Iraq seeking new havens in northern Iraq, U.S. military officials said.

U.S. commanders have tried to build a ring around insurgents who fled military offensives launched earlier this year in the western Anbar province and later into Baghdad and surrounding areas. In many places, the U.S.-led battles were given key help from tribal militias — mainly Sunnis — that had turned against al-Qaida and other groups.

The 200 checkpoints manned by these Iraqi volunteers will identify potential problems much more quickly than American checkpoints. These people know the area and their neighbors; strangers will stand out immediately. Foreigners sent to Iraq to kill and maim Iraqis will stick out like sore thumbs to the native security forces.

At the same time, the new program will help employ young Sunnis in gainful efforts. The security forces will receive almost the same salary as local police officers. That allows them to make a living and keep busy, not falling into the trap of boredom and frustration that led many of the young men towards the insurgencies. It also gives them an opportunity to serve their tribes and reinforce the sense of community that AQI attacks when seizing villages and imposing their brutal control.

Sheikh Khalaf Ali Issa understands this better than most. In his capacity as mayor of Zaab, he has seen what AQI does to Iraqis when they arrive. They have already killed 476 of his citizens, and he has seen for himself the AQI strategy of frightening locals into submission through murder and mayhem. AQI has made itself into America's best advertisement in Iraq.

This latest mobilization shows that Issa is not alone. The Iraqis have had enough of terrorism, and want the US as a partner for their own protection. AQI has failed utterly in its mission to create a blood-drenched Caliphate on the basis of human sacrifice in Iraq.


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