Both military and political pressure are being applied in the Anbar province. Al Jazeera reports airstrikes and combat between U.S. forces and ‘Iraqi fighters’ in the city of Ramadi near the U.S. base and a mosque. Omar from Iraq the Model reports delegates from Samarra have met with Iraqi Defense Minister Dulaimi to negotiate the future of the city. Dulaimi took a stern tone with the delegates, warning them that order is to be restored, be it locally or from the central government; “The minister was straightforward in his speech and warned the delegates that if the city doesn’t cooperate with the authorities in eliminating terror and criminal gangs, troops will have to enter the city and clean it up in a way similar to what happened in Talafar and the minister said that one month will be given to allow the city to take positive steps before power is used.”
Dulaimi has indicated the Iraqi government will listen, but will not accept terms that will lead to failure; “The government is willing to hear your demands and discuss them to reach a solution for the situation in Samarra, so talk to your people, write down your demands and submit them to the government but keep them reasonable, we can’t negotiate demands like those we heard from Ramadi, they wanted us to pull all Iraqi and American troops and let them rebuild units from the old army and that’s not acceptable. There’s one army in Iraq.”
Residents of Samarra have begun to leave the city, as they anticipate fighting in the near future. Note that the military already has established a cordon around the city; “Long queues of cars are forming at military checkpoints waiting for permission to leave the city.”
The pace and tempo of operations and negotiations have increased dramatically. The example of Tal Afar is forcing some Sunnis to reassess their position on supporting or turning a blind eye to the insurgency. The political pressure being exerted on Sunni leaders in Samarra would not be possible without the military pressure being applied by the Coalition. The involvement of the Iraqi Army crucial to this effort as it shows the fence-sitters that government has the capacity to apply their own force, and the political will to use it.
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