Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Michael Totten from Ramadi

I missed this completely today and I thank Hugh for posting the link, and reading the entire dispatch in his second hour. Believe me when I say that this is a must read dispatch from Michael Totten. I'll post the beginning of this dispatch for readers, but please head over to Mr. Totten's site. And if you can, drop some change in his tip jar. this sort of reporting doesn't come easy, and for an indie embed, it ain't cheap:

In early 2007 Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s Anbar Province, was one of the most violent war-torn cities on Earth. By late spring it was the safest major city in Iraq outside Kurdistan.

Abu Musab Al Zarqawi’s Al Qaeda in Iraq had seized control with the tacit blessing of many local civilians and leaders because they promised to fight the Americans. But Al Qaeda’s rule of Ramadi was vicious and cruel. They turned out not to be liberators at all, but the Taliban of Mesopotamia.

Al Qaeda met resistance, after a time, from the Iraqis and responded with a horrific murder and intimidation campaign against even children. The Sunni Arabs of Ramadi then rejected Al Qaeda so utterly they forged an alliance with the previously detested United States Army and Marine Corps and purged the terrorists from their lands.

Combat operations are finished in Ramadi. The American military now acts as a peacekeeping force to protect the city from those who recently lost it and wish to return.

It is not, however, completely secured yet.

“Al Qaeda lost their capital,” Major Lee Peters said, “and the one city that was called the worst in the world. It was their Stalingrad. And they want to come back.”

In July and again in August they did try to retake it and lost pitched battles on the shores of Lake Habbaniya and Donkey Island just on the outskirts. They destroyed a bridge over the Euphrates River leading into the city with a dump truck bomb. Four other bridges in Anbar Province were also destroyed in acts of revenge in the countryside by those who no longer have refuge in cities. And just last week Sheikh Sattar Abu Risha, the leader of the indigenous Anbar Salvation Council that declared Al Qaeda the enemy, was assassinated by a roadside bomb near his house.

That murder can’t undo the changes in the hearts and minds of the locals. If anything, assassinating a well-respected leader who is widely seen as a savior will only further harden Anbaris against the rough men who would rule them.
“All the tribes agreed to fight al Qaeda until the last child in Anbar,” the Sheikh’s brother Ahmed told a Reuters reporter.

Whether Anbar Province is freshly christened pro-American ground or whether the newly founded Iraqi-American alliance is merely temporary and tactical is hard to say. Whatever the case, the region is no longer a breeding ground for violent anti-American and anti-Iraqi forces.

“As of July 30,” Major Peters said in early August, “we’ve have 81 days in the city with zero attacks since March 31.”

“We’ve had only one attack in our area of operations in the past couple of months,” said Captain Jay McGee at the Blue Diamond base. He was referring to the Jazeera area immediately north of the city and including the suburbs. “And we haven’t had a single car bomb in our area since February.”

Violence has declined so sharply in Ramadi that few journalists bother to visit these days. It’s “boring,” most say, and it’s hard to get a story out there – especially for daily news reporters who need fresh scoops every day. Unlike most journalists, I am not a slave to the daily news grind and took the time to embed with the Army and Marines in late summer.

This is an amazing piece, and there are extraordinary pictures there. Go and read it all (especially the amusing part about a soldier's body armor mistake for an AC unit, and an Iraqi soldier demanding "cold pills" from a US colonel). Understand that this is not propaganda. No one got to him. Michael Totten is an independent journalist who has seen the best and the worst of Iraq. He reports on both, and in a fair way. He's showing the world that the Anbar Awakening is real and substantive. This is showing the world we are turning the corner, and that we are, hopefully, on the better road of victory.

Publius II


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