The L.A. Times is catching up to a story I told you about six weeks ago (December 11), after reading about it on Teflon Don’s blog. It’s the story of a sheik in Ramadi who has been helping to turn things around there. As Teflon Don said at the time:
A local sheik came to the Army unit in charge of the sector he lived in, announced his desire to fight the insurgents, and asked for help in doing so. He was received with some healthy skepticism- many people in this part of the world will say whatever they think you want to hear in order to profit from you. To demonstrate his commitment, he organized his militia and began to attempt to quell some of the violence in the sector. Within days, indirect fire attacks against US bases from his area dropped to nearly zero over the next three weeks, from a former rate of multiple attacks per day. IED attacks and other insurgent activity was also down.
Today’s L.A. Times story has an interview with the sheik, Sheik Sattar Bazeaa Fatikhan. Teflon Don confirms that the interview is with the same sheik. Here’s a taste:
After Sunni insurgents killed his father and four of his brothers last year, Fatikhan declared war against the insurgency.
He convened a summit of about a dozen prominent sheiks. From that meeting came a document called “The Awakening,” in which Fatikhan persuaded all but one sheik to join him in opposition to the insurgency.
The sheiks pledged to encourage young men to join the police force and even the Shiite-led army. The document states that killing an American is the same as killing a member of their tribes. Since the gathering, Fatikhan said, the sheiks have “eliminated” a number of insurgents.
U.S. officials regularly visit Fatikhan, seeking his counsel, showing him the kind of deference one might expect for a leading government official.
For U.S. forces to court local sheiks is consistent with the “Patriquin plan” that I mentioned in my December post. And indeed, Capt. Patriquin gets a nod from the sheik:
Fatikhan ordered his followers to “adopt” the U.S. Army’s liaison to the tribes and give him an Arabic name, Wissam, which means warrior. After the officer, Capt. Travis Patriquin, was killed by a roadside bomb, the sheik ordered that one of the new police stations be named in his honor.
By the way, this is not a new idea. I mentioned it in April 2004. But according to Capt. Patriquin’s Power Point presentation, bureaucratic rules kept us from cooperating with the sheiks in the most effective way possible. Capt. Patriquin’s Power Point portrayed an American soldier named “Joe” who was stymied in his efforts to deal with the sheiks:
What’s that in Joe’s hand? Oh, a transitional authority law! It was written by the CPA (25 year olds from Texas, and Paul Bremer) and it says NO SHEIKS! ONLY ELECTED GOVERNMENT!!!
It appears that we are ignoring these ivory tower concerns and are making progress with the help of sheiks like Fatikhan.
Here is my favorite quote from the article:
Fatikhan, who wears tailored suits when not in traditional clothing, understands U.S. politics. He told a visiting journalist, “Please take a message to the Democrats: Let the American forces stay until we can hold Iraq together. Then we will have a party when American forces go.”
And we will have a party too.
(Thanks to Capt. Eric Coulson for the heads up.)