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Americans Have Short Memories

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Follow Me on Twitter     Message Sandy Shanks
Collectively, Americans have short memories. Worse, far worse, so does the mainstream news (MSN). A few of us remember the al-Sahwa or the Sons of Iraq, otherwise known as the Awakening Movement. President Bush dubbed them "Concerned Local Citizens."
Remember them? One should. In 2006 and 2007, Iraq was on the edge of a precipice staring into the abyss of civil war between the Sunni insurgents and the Shiite militia and Death Squads. Iraqi civilization was on the verge of being torn apart ... forever. So, what happened? Incredibly, American commanders hired the Sunni insurgents. We put them on the American payroll and armed them with two conditions. First and foremost, they had to stop killing American soldiers and Iraqi security forces. Second, they had to hunt down and kill or capture al-Qa'ida of Iraq (AQI) members. Miracle of miracles, the strategy worked, about the only thing we have done in Iraq that actually worked, and the popular name, Awakening Movement, took hold in America. Anbar Province, the hotbed of the Sunni insurgency and AQI with cities like Fallujah and Ramadi, the cities of death, within months became a quiet province and acquiesced to the Shiite government in Baghdad. Many experts feel that the Awakening Movement had more of an effect on subduing violence in Iraq than Bush's Surge. More than likely, both played a role, but there is no argument that the Awakening played a huge part.
In May, I wrote an article entitled, "Travesty in Iraq," click here describing what happened. "Where has the Sunni insurgency been over the past 2 1/2 years? The answer is, they have been on our side. They are called the al-Sahwa, or the Sons of Iraq." I added, "The Sahwa force is Sunni militia hired by the U.S. in August, 2006, and is comprised of former resistance fighters. The Sahwa grew in number to 100,000, and they were commissioned by General David H. Petraeus to hunt down members of AQI." 
In a particular sense, it is easy to understand why the Sunni insurgents were won over by their enemies, the American military machine. That machine is relentless with far superior weaponry and unchallenged air superiority. The agreement delivered money and arms to the Sunni militants, items they desperately needed. However, in a more practical sense from the standpoint of the motivation to fight ... and die, the secular Sunni militant was entirely disenchanted by the almost Draconian fundamentalist al-Qa'ida.
That was then. This is now. Unfortunately, my article in May was prompted by two unwelcome developments. In the background is the fact that, according to the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) signed between the U.S. and Iraq on the eve of Bush's Presidency, American military forces must withdraw from all Iraqi cities by July 1st. The two discouraging events causing my article in May are, not in order of importance, a significant up-tick in violence in April and the demise of the Awakening Movement.
I wrote, "More than 355 people died in 40 bomb attacks in April, making it the bloodiest month in Iraq for over a year. For the most part, the media is reporting these attacks, attributing them to Sunni insurgents and/or al-Qa'ida of Iraq (AQI), but the media is not connecting the dots." They still are not. Also, the increase in violence has continued to this day. A recent A.P. article reported, "Nearly all the bombings that began on June 20 have been in Shiite areas, including the two deadliest attacks. They were a June 20 bombing that killed 82 people outside a mosque in northern Iraq, and another on June 24 in the Shiite enclave of Sadr City that killed 78." During the past week, 250 people have died in Iraq from attacks.
Who is to blame? Blaming AQI is easy. Al-Maliki blamed the bombings on the remnants of al-Qa'ida in Iraq and said they were aimed at restarting violence between Shiites and Sunnis. See what I mean. The American MSN follows suit. Blaming al-Qa'ida is quite popular these days, has been for quite a while.
Let's dig a little deeper to try to find the true cause for the increase in violence. The al-Sahwa force did the job they were hired to do. They stopped attacking American and Iraqi forces and turned their guns on AQI. Moreover, al-Sahwa members were in a position to inform American forces on the whereabouts of key AQI leaders. AQI forces were sent fleeing from nearly every province in Iraq and by the fall of 2008 they were on life support. Violence in Iraq dropped precipitously to manageable levels.
As a consequence, the U.S. fired the al-Sahwa.
Oh, sure, the al-Sahwa were supposed to be integrated into the Iraqi security forces, but al-Maliki was very reluctant to do that. As a consequence to that, it never happened. I reported in May, "The al-Sahwa are now concerned that the Shiite-led government has begun singling out the councils' leaders for arrest while their chief patron, the American military, abandons them. Many have not been paid since October. A Sahwa commander in Baghdad feared it was only a matter of time before they would leave their posts to likely resume resistance operations. That has now started, and the news media is clueless. Eighteen American soldiers were killed in Iraq during April, the highest total in seven months." Al-Maliki has declared June 30th as Victory Day. I have no words to describe this proclamation, none whatsoever. U.S. and Iraqi officials have warned of a possible spike in violence over the next week. You think.  
American leaders turned their backside to the al-Sahwa who did exactly what they were supposed to do. That is not a wise course of action against the Arab fighter.
Returning to al-Qa'ida, no, not AQI, the real al-Qa'ida. Al-Qa'ida is known to have the capability to evolve, to correct the errors of their ways to achieve a goal. Al-Qa'ida can easily go back to Sunni tribal leaders, assuring adaptation to Iraqi Sunni ways, offering money and guns, while appealing to Sunni nationalistic tendencies. It is becoming readily apparent that as the Iraqi government attacks on the Sahwa continue, AQI is now operating largely at will, and attacks on US forces and Iraqi targets, particularly Shi'a targets, are now happening all over Iraq ... again. Ironically, the very last thing al-Qa'ida wants is for the U.S. to withdraw from Iraqi cities. The American invasion of Iraq has been recruiting poster material for al-Qa'ida for over six years. It would not bother Osama bin Laden one bit if American soldiers in the heart of Arab land remain targets. He does not want American forces to retreat. He wants to defeat the American will to fight. When Bush invaded Iraq, he played right into the hands of bin Laden.
Thomas Friedman writes, "... al-Qa'ida is primarily focused on defeating America in the heart of the Arab-Muslim world - particularly in Iraq. Al-Qa'ida knows that if it can destroy the U.S. effort (still a long shot) to build a decent, modernizing society in Iraq, it will undermine every U.S. ally in the region.

The Alzheimer's-like memory of the MSN continues. The aforementioned A.P. article stated, "It was brought back from the brink [of civil war] by a huge inflow of U.S. troops in 2007 in what became known as the 'surge.'" No! Civil war was averted by both the "surge" and the Awakening Movement. I am not picking on the A.P. The successful Awakening Movement and its betrayal by the government that speaks for us has not been mentioned in the MSN.     
Ignoring for the moment the rather obvious fact that the American invasion of Iraq in March, 2003, was the most ignominious military error on the part of American leadership since the War of 1812, the war in Iraq, now in its seventh year, begs a question. How many egregious military errors can America make in one war? That question is exacerbated by the growing Af/Pak theater of war where "victory" is more elusive than in the fall and winter of 2001. This causes still another question.

With a wretched economy that is supposed to support our military adventures on borrowed money from Red China, does Washington have a death wish?
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Sandy Shanks Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

I am the author of two novels, "The Bode Testament" and "Impeachment." I am also a columnist who keeps a wary eye on other columnists and the failures of the MSM (mainstream media). I was born in Minnesota, and, to this day, I love the Vikings (more...)
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