Thursday, October 19, 2006

Mind over matter

AlQaeda paraded through Ramadi on Tuesday, and Iraqis continued preparations to try and retake the region from AlQaeda. But US experts, in their various ways, are exploring alternative worlds where maybe this isn't really happening. Juan Cole assures us this morning that the Marines already occupy Ramadi, so those paraders had better watch out! (Technically he's right, apparently. See the comments. MarkfromIreland, who knows about these things, says the Marines do occupy the place. Whether they control it or not is another question). Other academics are toying with the idea the whole Islamic Nation announcement might be a psych-ops hoax. And the NYT doesn't mention the Ramadi situation in their main Iraq stories this morning.

Knight-Ridder published a piece in July indicating that US forces had pretty much abandoned the idea of controlling Ramadi. Earlier this week, Al-Hayat reported the formation of a "Council for the Salvation of Anbar", described by its leader as including Anbar tribal people, and also army officers from the Saddam era standing ready to "put down [AlQaeda-controlled] Anbar", once they got the go-ahead from the government, from which they were expecting assistance in this.

This morning, the Iraqi newspaper Al-Sabah reports on further plans along these lines. It says the US forces are "coordinating with the Anbar tribes to establish a better security situation". And it says the above-mentioned Council for the Salvation of Anbar was "continuing its efforts to free the province from the terrorists that are followers of AlQaeda." The Al-Sabah journalist adds that "companies from the private sector are undertaking the supply of goods for the rebuilding of the city of Qa'im".

More particulary, the Governor of Anbar, Ma'moun Rashid held a joint press conference with the head of US forces in the western region (mostly Anbar), in which he (the Governor) said that he and the Anbar tribal people were "studying security operations in Ramadi and other cities in the province". And the Governor added that he has already obtained good results, including agreement to set up a joint commitee half from the tribes and half from the provincial council, for discussion and studies of proposals for the rebuilding of Anbar, from several points of view: Security, the economy, and the fight against corruption.

For its part, the Salvation Council said one of its units attacked on Wednesday morning an AlQaeda base "in the Zanqura region south of Ramadi", killing three, taking three prisoner and seizing a vast quantity of weapons.

In Ramadi itself, according to Reuters, AlQaeda people paraded through the city, while mosque loudspeakers read out the Mujadideed Shura Council statement about establishment of an Islamic Nation in the Sunni provinces of Iraq. A leader told the Reuters reporter: "With God's help, we will establish the Shariah here, and we will fight the Americans."

For an explanation what the parade was supposed to mean in public-relations terms, see the following post: "Tale of two so-called nations".


Blogger markfromireland said...

And Juan is correct. Ramadi is occupied by the marines. The thing is that unless you flood an area with marines 24 hours a day you can't prevent something like that.

The parade of armed men in occupied territory is a propaganda trick as old as the book. Probably older. I suspect that it was invented round about the time that our ancestors were wondering whether walking on their hindlegs would be a good career move. :-)

You don't need much time to pull a stunt like that. A few minutes, a photographer, and a few expendable volunteers. Ask the IRA they used to do this all the time.

Incidentally be careful with al-Sabah they're government owned. Not saying they're wrong or deliberately deceitful just be aware that there's a very distinct agenda there.

8:43 AM  
Blogger badger said...

Thank you Mark. My reason for going back over the KRidder and the al-Hayat stories and the Sabah piece this morning was that (1) from all different perspectives the plans now are for "taking back Anbar", in other words it's not under control; and (2) the people they're trying to dislodge are AlQaeda. In these circumstances to say merely that the Marines occupy Ramadi seems...the way I described it.

9:55 AM  
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