Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Anbar Awakening: An Alliance of Incentives

The Anbar Awakening: An Alliance of Incentives

By John A. McCary
Former U.S. Army intelligence collector, Security Consultant

The Washington Quarterly [January 2009 Issue]

Although media coverage and analysis has focused heavily on al Qaeda’s campaign of violent coercion and the supposed improved efficacy of the U.S. military after the arrival of the ‘‘surge’’ brigades, testimony from Iraqis themselves and U.S. military commanders on the ground in Iraq tells a different story of why the [Awakening Council] sheikhs chose to change sides. The changes leading to this new alliance had already begun long before the surge was even an idea. And it was not the grotesqueness of the violence perpetrated by al Qaeda which caused the change, for Iraq and al Anbar have a long storied history of using violence for political ends. Rather, there appear to be two main factors: the Sunni tribal sheikhs’ own changing perception of al Qaeda’s threat to their continued hold on power and the developing U.S. military approach in al Anbar.


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