Thursday, February 09, 2006

My Enemy's Enemy

The U.S. is learning how to play the Middle Eastern game—barter—in a hurry, according to "U.S., Iraqi Officials Woo Sunnis" in today's Los Angeles Times:

BAGHDAD — U.S. and Iraqi officials have begun bartering prisoners, aid and key positions in the army and police for the allegiance of Sunni insurgents, in an effort to lure them away from foreign Al Qaeda fighters in Iraq's most restive province.

The latest attempt to capitalize on recent clashes between insurgents and foreign fighters brought together eight major tribal sheiks from Al Anbar province with the top U.S. military official in Iraq, Army Gen. George W. Casey; Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari and high-ranking members of Iraq's security and intelligence agencies.

The five-hour meeting Tuesday was the highest-level, most detailed parley with Iraq's largest Sunni Muslim Arab tribes since the wedge tactic was adopted late last year.

It took place as the nation's divided ethnic and religious groups jockeyed for positions in a Shiite Muslim-dominated government.

"We are engaged with leaders, including tribal leaders and others, to encourage them to suspend their military operations with the aim of ending the insurgency and working together with us against the terrorists," U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad said in an interview Wednesday.

This process is just tricky as hell; the insurgents are undoubtedly covering their bets by maintaining back-door relations with al-Qa'ida against the infidels, but they're in a much stronger position numerically than the foreign fighters lodged in Iraq. These numbers and the home-field advantage (terrain, contacts, dialect) are what will tell in this intra-insurgent battle, not the apparently unlimited funding the foreign fighters receive from abroad. The U.S. leadership is wise to realize this fact and make use of it.

1 comment:

NYkrinDC said...

Took them long enough.

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