Saturday, February 16, 2008

Anbar Stable After al-Qaida Defeat, But Folks Still Wary

Al-Anbar Province, Iraq, is essentially al-Qaida free according to the folks who live there. It's not only al-Qaida free, but the locals want to keep it that way. The locals are not certain Anbar will remain safe from the Osama bin Laden sponsored franchise. Many think the Sahwa (Awakening) Councils can fend off the bandits, albeit it with American help, while others believe al-Qaida can still mount the ultimate offensive and retake the province.

The debate itself, puts another lie to Nancy Pelosi's assertion that no progress is being made and the whole thing is a failure.

Qaim versus Qaeda – Gloves still off

Anbar - Voices of Iraq
Saturday , 16 /02 /2008 Time 9:27:36

Al-Anbar, Feb 15, (VOI) – Some residents of Anbar province believe that it is a likely assumption that al-Qaeda might re-disseminate its elements throughout their province again, starting from cities such as Al-Qaim. Others however believe that al-Qaeda’s prevalence in their province is a nightmare that happened only once, and will never be revived.

A question looms in the minds of people in Anbar; will al-Qaeda elements be able to defeat the U.S. backed Sahwa (Awakening) tribal councils, and take-over their province again?

Civil servant, Yasser Hindi (65 years), sees that al-Qaeda’s influence on people's perceptions in Anbar province came to an end before the evolution of the Awakening Councils, because "Qaida committed crimes that proved to the people of Anbar that al-Qaeda's aim is not to liberate Iraq, as it was announced," Hindi said to Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq – (VOI), adding, "people now feel safe. There are no random raids, assassinations, abductions and killings; that's why people no longer want al-Qaeda in control of their province."

As Hindi confirmed that al-Qaeda has no ability to re-emerge in Anbar province. "Al-Qaeda cannot return to our cities in Anbar," Hindi told VOI, clarifying "this is due to different reasons, such as the rehabilitation process in Anbar, despite the fact that this process is progressing slowly."

On the contrary of Hindi, Abu Khaldon, a college professor, thinks that is the return of al-Qaeda elements to Anbar is a possibility." Al-Qaeda in Iraq has sleeping-cells at the edges of Al-Qaim and some other cities of Anbar province," Abu Khaldon asserted to VOI.

Regarding an attack on a group of Iraqi policemen that took place on February 10, 2008 in Al-Obaidi – 30 km east of Al-Qaim city, Abu Khaldon said to VOI "This is an al-Qaeda plot, because al-Qaeda considers anyone that doesn't use violence against Americans as heathen," referring to some people in Al-Anbar province who know al-Qaeda is futile, but yet continue to support it.

Nevertheless, Abu Khaldon commented to VOI "If Qaida would be back to operate on a wide-scale in Anbar, which is currently not easily achieved, it should first correct its antecedent approach, not to commit the same mistakes, and not to consider any Muslim as heathen because he works as a policeman, if he is Baathist, or others;" however, Abu Khaldon believes that the current relatively stable security situation in Anbar is "phony," and that "Resistance against Americans in Iraq might re-appear at any moment in Al-Anbar cities that provide safe-hides for the fighters at the end of the battles."

Officials in Al-Qaim city, which is considered al-Qaeda’s gate to Anbar province, strictly rejects the idea that al-Qaeda can work again in the western part of Iraq. "There is no place for al-Qaeda in our province anymore," Farhan Ftekhan, head of Al-Qaim City Council said to VOI.

Ftekhan, who was a brigadier of the former regime's air-force, corroborates his confirmation by saying "This province became stable after defeating al-Qaeda," explaining "In 2007, there were only two cases of Qaida elements crossing our borders with Syria, compared to hundreds of similar cases in 2005." He asserted "Our borders have been free of al-Qaeda elements crossing over in 2008, until now that is.”

A police officer in Al-Qaim city said to VOI on condition of anonymity "It's absolutely an imaginary situation that our city would once again re-embrace al-Qaeda elements," adding, "They killed our sons under the pretexts of atheism, and evasion from battling Americans."

A civil servant working in a customs office on the Iraqi borders with Syria spoke to VOI on condition of anonymity. "Overlapping of the two terms of Resistance and al-Qaeda creates a sort of confusion among the people of Anbar." He added, "After the Awakening Councils came to power in this province, any resistance fighter that opposes U.S. occupation in Iraq was considered a member of al-Qaeda, even if that fighter doesn't believe in al-Qaeda’s aims and principles."

Ex-officer of the former Iraqi Army, Abu Bilal (44 years), agrees with the civil servant, accusing Americans in Iraq of "attributing all Resistance military operations to al-Qaeda or to the proponents of the former regime" Abu Bilal said to VOI, confirming, "the main source of the military operations against U.S. occupation in Iraq is the real Iraqi Resistance, not al-Qaeda."

Journalist Saleem Shatee (41 years) believes that hate-tone against al-Qaeda increasingly ranked higher in the public-agenda of Anbar province, due to media effects on both levels of salience and attributes. "Sometimes media influence had side-effects on the Iraqi Resistance," Shatee told VOI, adding "the average Iraqis in Anbar started condemning any military operation against American troops, both inside and outside of Anbar province."

According to Shatee, "Al-Qaeda even killed Iraqi Resistance fighters that didn't believe in Qaida patronage in Iraq," proceeding "Al-Qaeda elements slaughtered innocent people in public, in Anbar province, before women and kids," asserting "Al-Qaeda fighters made the scene of blood a normal daily issue in the cities of Anbar, when they dominated that Iraqi province, as they were ready to kill anyone for a very simple reason, just for criticizing al-Qaeda’s criminal acts."

"This province became stable after defeating al-Qaeda." I call that progress.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

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