ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Nothing to See Here

It appears that the strategery of the Surge might work:

Sunni sheik declares war on the insurgency
A business-minded tribal leader in Al Anbar forges an alliance with U.S. forces.
By Tony Perry, Times Staff Writer
January 23, 2007

RAMADI, IRAQ — At 35, he is younger than many sheiks. And his Sunni Arab tribe is not one of the largest in Al Anbar province. But Sheik Sattar Bazeaa Fatikhan projects the aura of power and seriousness that comes to a man who has taken a stand.

After Sunni insurgents killed his father and four of his brothers last year, Fatikhan declared war against the insurgency.

He convened a summit of about a dozen prominent sheiks. From that meeting came a document called "The Awakening," in which Fatikhan persuaded all but one sheik to join him in opposition to the insurgency.

The sheiks pledged to encourage young men to join the police force and even the Shiite-led army. The document states that killing an American is the same as killing a member of their tribes. Since the gathering, Fatikhan said, the sheiks have "eliminated" a number of insurgents.

U.S. officials regularly visit Fatikhan, seeking his counsel, showing him the kind of deference one might expect for a leading government official. When a British general visited recently, Fatikhan, the sheik of the Abo Resha tribe, noted that his great-grandfather had fought against the British in the early 1940s.

Still, he said, "The British respected the sheiks."

In a two-hour interview in his large, carpeted meeting hall, a stream of underlings whispered to Fatikhan or handed him messages. He nodded or spoke a few words, and they hurried off. Later, he allowed himself to joke about the duties of being a sheik.

"They give me a headache," he said through an interpreter.

Drinking tea and smoking Marlboros, Fatikhan listened to questions and then gave an unvarying response: The U.S. military and Iraqi tribes must unite to rid Sunni-dominated Al Anbar province of men who would "try to engineer our future with mortars and roadside bombs."

For U.S. forces, Fatikhan's stand is a significant boost in a bitter fight with insurgents who, until recently, controlled large segments of Ramadi, the provincial capital.

Army Col. Sean MacFarland, commander of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, credits Fatikhan and other sheiks for an increase in police enrollment, a decrease in insurgent recruitment and new courage among Iraqi forces.

A year ago, insurgents blew up every police station in Ramadi, and officers were afraid to return to duty. The U.S. military rebuilt many of the stations. During a recent attack, Iraqi police officers stood their ground.

"They would not be intimidated," MacFarland said. "Why? Because their sheik, whom they respect, told them, 'You must do this.' "

Fatikhan ordered his followers to "adopt" the U.S. Army's liaison to the tribes and give him an Arabic name, Wissam, which means warrior. After the officer, Capt. Travis Patriquin, was killed by a roadside bomb, the sheik ordered that one of the new police stations be named in his honor.

This month, Fatikhan was host of the first Ramadi reconstruction conference, held behind the high walls of his family compound. Contractors, sheiks and others met with U.S. officials to discuss projects to pave roads, rebuild schools and improve electrical, sewer, phone and water systems.

Fatikhan, who wears tailored suits when not in traditional clothing, understands U.S. politics. He told a visiting journalist, "Please take a message to the Democrats: Let the American forces stay until we can hold Iraq together. Then we will have a party when American forces go."

Interesting that the Sheik is more attuned to the politics in the US than many of those in the MSM.

It should be noted that Travis Patriquin, who graduated from the same high school as me, died in Ramadi from a roadside bomb and obviously had a significant impact on the situation in Ramadi now. All accounts of Travis' service in the War On Terror show that he was truly an American hero.

Here is Travis' PowerPoint (in PDF) on How to win in Al Anbar, which appears to be coming to fruition... he calls on the US to engage a Sheik who can bring other sheiks to the table.

Travis shows an understanding of Iraq that L. Paul Bremer, the State Dept Bureaucrat, couldn't comprehend.

To Captain Patriquin - Godspeed and may your sacrifice not be in vain.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler