Thursday, September 14, 2006


Arm tribes say Sunni leaders

Sunni leaders in al-Anbar have urged the American military to arm tribes against al-Qaeda, which is viewed as the most powerful force in the area. They believe this to be the solution to controlling the violent western province. In-fighting between insurgents and tribes has been a problem in the area since early 2005. Ayad al-Samarrai, the No 2 official in the Islamic Party, the largest Iraqi Sunni party, says the Americans are not taking the people's efforts to make peace seriously.
“When the Americans attack an area, they disarm the locals and keep them weak but the terrorists have already fled. When the Americans leave, the terrorists return and the people do not have any weapons to protect themselves,” said Samarrai.
Samarrai said that leaders from al-Anbar had made several proposals to the Americans, including arming the tribes to fight al-Qaeda, providing teams of bodyguards for tribal leaders, clerics and politicians who opposed al-Qaeda and making an intense recruitment push to build an indigenous army and police force. Mr Samarrai predicted that extremist groups such as al-Qaeda would be defeated in a few months if the Americans acted on any of the al-Anbar proposals. Many leaders in al-Anbar believed that the Americans wanted the chaos to continue and were deliberately helping al-Qaeda, he said.
According to Samarrai, the general populace has turned against al-Qaeda because the group has killed too many innocent people. However, he said the people do not have the strength to drive al-Qaeda out and are frightened. The gunmen have enforced their own version of Islamic law, banning alcohol and Western music and requiring women to wear veils on the street, according to a local doctor.

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