People power — the rising of ordinary people of a nation or region in force against oppression — has toppled more than one dictator in the last generation, or even in the last few years. The phenomenon started with Filipinos forcing an end to the Marcos regime two decades ago, and continued with Poles, Czechs, Georgians, the Lebanese, and others. The people of Palermo even rose up against almost a millenia of terror and crippled the Mafia.
Now it looks like the Sunnis in Iraq may have had enough of terror, too (via Power Line):
A battle raged in west Baghdad on Thursday after residents rose up against al-Qaida and called for U.S. military help to end random gunfire that forced people to huddle indoors and threats that kept students from final exams, a member of the district council said. …
U.S. forces backed by helicopter gunships clashed with suspected al- Qaida gunmen in western Baghdad’s primarily Sunni Muslim Amariyah neighborhood in an engagement that lasted several hours, said the district councilman, who would not allow use of his name for fear of al-Qaida retribution.
Casualty figures were not immediately available and there was not immediate word from the U.S. military on the engagement.
But the councilman said the al-Qaida leader in the Amariyah district, known as Haji Hameed, was killed and 45 other fighters were detained.
Members of al-Qaida, who consider the district part of their so-called Islamic State of Iraq, were preventing students from attending final exams, shooting randomly and forcing residents to stay in their homes, the councilman said.
Of course, this is one incident in one area, and it would take a brushfire of discontent to drive AQ out of Iraq. Sometimes it only takes one spark to touch off that brushfire, though. In any case, the Sunnis of the region understand that their lives will never return to normal until the terrorists leave — and they knew who to call to get help with their impromptu battle against AQ.
Word also has come that the other, native insurgencies may have had enough:
U.S. military commanders are talking with Iraqi militants about cease-fires and other arrangements to try to stop the violence, the No. 2 American commander said Thursday.
Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno said he has authorized commanders at all levels to reach out to militants, tribes, religious leaders and others in the country that has been gripped by violence from a range of fronts including insurgents, sectarian rivals and common criminals.
“We are talking about cease-fires, and maybe signing some things that say they won’t conduct operations against the government of Iraq or against coalition forces,” Odierno told Pentagon reporters in a video conference from Baghdad.
This actually follows up on the offer made by Nouri al-Maliki a year ago, granting amnesty to former insurgents if they agree to surrender and return to normal lives. Some in the US found the amnesty provisions distasteful, but some sort of national reconciliation is necessary if the Iraqi government is to succeed in securing the streets of Baghdad, Anbar, and Diyala.
Small steps, of course, but steps in the right direction.