Thursday, February 28, 2008

This is not how you make friends and influence people

If you read the nightly news roundups, you know that I have been paying attention to the Sunni militias that have been standing down and abandoning their posts for over a couple of weeks now. If you have read this blog for any length of time, you know that I am no Janie-come-lately on this topic - this is part-and-parcel of a long-running hissy-fit.

Finally the Washington Post is paying attention to the issue...

Nowhere are the tensions more serious than in Diyala, one of the major battlegrounds in the U.S. fight against al-Qaeda in Iraq. Awakening groups, also known here as Popular Committees, are demanding the resignation of the Shiite provincial police chief, Maj. Gen. Ghanem al-Qureishi. They accuse him of running death squads and torturing Sunnis, allegations that Qureishi denied in an interview. The Awakening leaders are also seeking recognition as an official force.

On Wednesday, they vowed to dissolve the committees if their demands were not met. "In the last 10 months, we haven't received any kind of assistance or help from Americans or Iraqi government," said Abu Talib, a top Awakening leader. "On the contrary, the police started to hunt us down."

Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani said that Qureishi was highly valued and that such "good men" would be protected. "An accusation does not mean the crime actually took place," Bolani said.

The U.S. military acknowledges that it is caught in the middle of a political struggle. "Yes, they are frustrated," said Lt. Col. Ricardo Love, commander of the 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, who works in Baqubah, the provincial capital. "They think we can make the government of Iraq do anything. We tell them we don't control the government. But they think we are the mighty power."

"The position of Americans is hesitation," said Abu Imad al-Zuhaidi, another Awakening official in Baqubah. "They don't have any independent opinion, despite the fact they know it is the Awakening who restored order."

U.S. commanders said the Awakening's strike has not affected security, but Love and others are concerned about fighters who may be tempted, or forced, to rejoin the insurgency.

Keep in mind that if they resume their insurgent ways, they will be turning weapons on Americans that were provided by your tax dollars.

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