Anbar Province and the Iraq Study Group Report

Iraqi Politicians and Tribal Sheihks are concerned about the implications of the Iraq Study Group report

The Anbar mayors meeting in Fallujah. Click image to view.

FALLUJAH, IRAQ: The release of the Iraq Study Group report, a 79 point plan to address Iraq, created by a blue ribbon panel lead by former Secretary of State James Baker and Representative Lee Hamilton, has implications far beyond domestic U.S. politics. I’ve been asked numerous times how this report has effected the U.S. troops serving in Iraq. The answer is very little. Most shrug their shoulders at the news reports, and haven’t had time to digest the recommendations of the voluminous document. But the Iraqis of Anbar province are certainly paying attention, as the Iraq Study Group report directly affects them.

Last year, while I was embedded with the the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines (the Teufelhunden) in Husaybah, I attended several meetings between the U.S and Iraqi militaries, and the tribal sheikhs and politicians of the Qaim region. One of the major concerns expressed by the sheikhs and politicians was a fear of a rapid withdrawal by U.S. forces. At this point in time, Representative John Murtha was advocating a rapid “strategic redeployment” of U.S. force to locations outside of Iraq.

I specifically asked the tribal leaders if they watch the news coming out of the United states, and if the news impacts their decision making process. The answer in every case was yes, absolutely. The sheikhs’ primary concern was the U.S. would withdraw from the region, and those who collaborated with the U.S. and Iraqi forces would fall prey to al Qaeda.

The situation in Anbar province has not changed, and the tribal sheikhs and politicians still watch the Western media. Today, the release and implications Iraq Study Group report is their main concern. Last week, I attended the Fallujah city council meeting and the Anbar province mayor’s meeting. The Iraq Study Group report was the main topic of concern at the Fallujah city council meeting, and a primary topic at the Anbar province mayor’s meeting.

A sidebar at the Anbar mayors meeting in Fallujah. Maamoun Sami Rashid al-Awani, the governor of Anbar (far left). Click image to view.

During the Fallujah city council meeting, John Kael Weston, the representative from the U.S. State Department for Anbar province, addressed the town council meeting to assured the Fallujah politicians and police chiefs that the Iraq Study Group report was just a “document that discusses policy, and is not yet the policy of the U.S. government… the policy is set by the government and not the Iraq Study Group.”A Marine general made similar remarks at the Anbar mayor’s meeting.

The politicians and tribal leaders are very concerned that the Iraq Study Group report spells the end of the U.S. presence in western Iraq. These men have risked their own lives and the lives of their families by working with the Iraqi government and U.S. forces.

The establishment of the Anbar Salvation Council, a group of tribal leaders who have vowed to hunt al Qaeda, the beginnings of a political process in the region, and the latest recruiting drive that brought in 1,115 police recruits throughout Anbar could not take place without a U.S. military presence. While the Iraqi Army is making strides towards tactical independence, it still relies on the U.S. in this dangerous province. The tribal sheikhs and politicians understand this.

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Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.

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12 Comments

  • Web Reconnaissance for 12/22/2006

    A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention.

  • Anand says:

    How did Al Anbar locals, sheikhs and leaders view the Iraqi Army? Did they look at it with some suspicion? (Out of town Sunni Arabs, Shiites, Kurds, Iranian and or American stooges etc.)
    Did they regard the Iraqi government (including Al Sadr etc.) as authentically Iraqi and fully legitimate, or did they regard them as too close to Iran?
    My impression from the States (may not be correct) is that most Al Anbar residents favor a time table for the multinational forces to leave. What length of time do they favor for a timetable? (2 years?)

  • Anbar Province and the Iraq Study Group Report

    Courtesy of The Fourth Rail:
    Iraqi Politicians and Tribal Sheihks are concerned about the implications of the Iraq Study Group report
    The release of the Iraq Study Group report, a 79 point plan to address Iraq, created by a blue ribbon panel lead by…

  • Justin B says:

    I believe that the terrorists prefer a timetable, the average folks want the violence to stop but don’t particullarly want the US or Al Qaeda there at all, and that the Coalition Collaborators that are assisting the US forces know that as soon as we leave, they will be executed unless the government and police are strong enough to take control or they have their own private security force and militia to protect them. You have got to figure that the folks that are assisting the US will be completely overrun by their former enemies as soon as we leave and stop providing logistical support. If I am a local leader and I have supported the US, I have to be making my own exit strategy for me and my family if the US withdraws. Think Vietnam after the US withdrew and think South Vietnam. Note what happened to our former allies that were not able to get airlifted out.
    The problem is that we have to convert the folks in the middle to being the latter folks and the only way to do that is to convince them that we are in it for the long haul. Otherwise, they are signing their death warrants by helping us if we are going to leave. Folks know brutality and reprisal killing in Iraq from Saddam’s days. The question I have is how do we convert more people into helping us and get them to support the US, if they do not see an Iraq that is secure and a police force and army that has the ability to protect them after we leave? Bill directly addresses the media and information war that Al Qaeda is fighting. They are trying to convince the average citizens to side with them because we are going to abandon Iraq and I would like to know how our troops and the State Department are countering the media blitz by Al Qaeda to push Americans out of Iraq.

  • TCO says:

    I think the sheiks are realistic to watch the news, the ISG, the recent elections and other things affecting the pulse. And I feel for them. All that said, I’m not sure that we should stay for years and years in a country like this. Let the people on hand take control…or suffer the consequences.

  • Dick Stanley says:

    I pity them watching the MSM and trying to make sense out of it. It’s hard enough here to realize what’s reported is seldom even accurate, let alone definitive.

  • mrsizer says:

    My advice, if I may be so bold, is to explain to everyone in Iraq that you meet that about half of America doesn’t care about anything except what they feel. Reality is a very distant second to how they feel about it.
    If you want their support, you have to make the either feel good about helping you or feel bad about not helping you.
    Emphasize over and over that the actual situation is irrelevant. Hopefully, if you talk to enough people, someone over there will be able to take that ball and run with it.
    The alternative is that in ten years we’ll all feel really bad about the big glass crater where the Middle East used to be. The people who could have prevented it by being supportive now will not, however, admit any complicity; that would be a fact, not a feeling.

  • I’m a little confused about the recommendations of the Commission.

    Everything I read said that it advocates keeping troops in at least until 2007, and thereafter if the situation justifies it.

    All of the recommendations I know of that are feasible don’t seem to represent much of a change.

    (Talking to Syria and Iran will not produce productive results, so I set that aside).

    Why does anyone think that the report actually advocates anything other than essentially staying the course?

    D

  • Bogdan Jodkowski says:

    The Iraq Study Group repport was a most shameful, and a most trisonous piece of political document in America’s history. For me it looked like those two individuals (Baker and Hamilton) had their brains castrated in some obscure neuro-surgical clinic in the Saudi Arabia, and then sent bact to US to betray their country nad their President. It was as if some isolationist politicians attempted to urge Rosvelt to negotiate with Japanese and Grmans after Pearl Harbour. Why cannot those folks realise that Iraq is the only part of much bigger picture which is the rebirth and raise of TOTALITARIAN COLLECTIVISM, spearheaded by Islamofascism, but thai is allying itself with other regimes like that of Latinofascist Chaves, Russofascist Putin, Afrofascist Mugabe, Chi-Coms form China and many others who will stab America in the back and then those idiots from the “Old” Europe at the nearest possible opportunity? Thoe are Western Euroeans that deserve the harshest criticism for their cowardice, passivity, and making never-ending concessions towards those regimes and not the US for her alleged “mistakes” made during the war on terror. Let’s face it: the Europs are doing nothing! And those who do nothing have no moral right to criticise those who do so much and make some mistakes. God bless America!!!

  • Mark says:

    //www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1572796,00.html
    Turning Iraq’s Tribes Against Al-Qaeda
    nice piece you guys might like

  • Gerry says:

    I should like to recommend a policy, when the time is right, prepared in advance, of “cut and stay”. Let me explain (as an armchair retired military officer).
    There are those two (now abandoned) Iraqi airbases in far Western Iraq, with modern enough, long runways. Ideal for both Coalition reaction bases, as well as strategic airlift/bomber/strike (in and out) airbases, fighter and Army helio and combined arms bases. Not so difficult to make them a ground force reaction base either: Armor, lite and heavy, mobile infantry, intelligence, etc. A combined force base, if you will. The Naval/Marine forces can control Southern Iraq in combination with other gulf based forces, hands down.
    So as we might ‘withdraw’, given some increased confidence in Iraqi Army and police forces, at least some of this ‘retreat’ could be to strong points like these bases. Some construction needed, of course, some hi-tech protection perimeters (out 10 miles? or so) needed, etc. Do-able? I’m supposing yes. Pay the Iraqi government rent, via ‘base rights’ agreement.
    Give agreement to assist the legitimate Iraqi authority with armed US responses, at our discretion as needed – land, sea, air (or ‘Dune’-like sand-worms as an intelligence sponsored rumor).
    Might be smart to use (or build) a similar military air/ground forces base in the Kurdish area, perhaps built from scratch. (Kurds think of themselves mostly as Americans, not just as ‘like’ Americans, but as the thing itself (believe it or not!). The Kurdish initiative especially, so if the ‘other’ Iraq’s don’t like or allow an armed presense in their western areas. (Not that they’d have much choice, which we should make quite clear, as necessary).
    The tactical and strategic advantage of such bases in the heart of the ME cannot be exageratated. G

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