Solidarity Trumps Al-Qa’eda in Hawr Rajab - 03.17.2008

Hawr Rajab, Iraq - Hawr Rajab is one of the last villages before you reach Baghdad proper from the south of the city. It is a mixed area that was wracked by violence and sectarian conflict until late last year when a tenuous agreement was reached between the “Sons of Iraq,” an organization related to the “Sahwa Councils” or “Concerned Local Citizens” and the United States and Multi-National Forces.

Sheikh Ma’eini spoke with Nabeel Kamal about how his tribe and others in the region banded together, with some support from the Multi-National Forces, to defeat Al-Qa’eda and other terrorists operating in the region. When Iraq’s 4th Brigade sent troops to support the Iraqis working to stabilize Hawr Rajab the improvement of the security situation seems to have become inevitable. Each Iraqi who spoke with Alive in Baghdad told of widespread cooperation between Sunnis and Shiites in the region. The solidarity among locals seems to have been an essential element in bridging divisions between groups due to recent or perhaps longstanding disagreements.

This week we took a look at how the citizen forces, whom some have referred to as “militias,” are collaborating with the official security forces of the Iraqi Government, whether police or army troops. It seems that calm will reign in Hawr Rajab so long as the cooperation between local and national forces remains.

With the 5th year of the war coming to an end this week, its more important than ever to take a closer look at the United States’ strategy for fomenting reconciliation and stability around Iraq. First we speak with the citizens, members of the Sahwa or Sons of Iraq, and Iraqi troops in the area about their efforts. In the coming weeks we’ll be examining how Al-Qa’eda was defeated in the area, and what conditions inevitably lend to the changes on the ground that helped the collaboration of Iraqis on all sides and elimination of terrorism in the region become a reality.

Lieutenant Al-Attabi of the 6th division, 4th Brigade thanked the locals for their cooperation and support in locating and eliminating terrorists operating in the region. Ma’an Fadhel, one of the local citizens who is not a member of Al-Sahwa, spoke with Nabeel about how he and other citizens became fed up with the violence and terrorism gripping their region, leading to their collaboration with Iraqi Forces.

Although the situation in Hawr Rajab seems to have calmed for the time being, and be trending for the better, it remains to be seen where the strategy will lead. If the Iraqi national government does not provide members of the Sahwa Councils with positions in the Iraqi Army or other security forces, the current calm may be just another footnote in a laundry list of ill-fated strategies for securing and rebuilding Iraq.


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