Members of more than 30 tribes, both Sunni and Shia met yesterday at a short-notice reconciliation meeting in Bassam, Iraq, an area approximately 10 miles west of Bagdad city center.
The conference was called by a highly influential leader, Abu Maruf, with less than 24-hours notice, to make a public declaration of unity amongst the tribes against al-Qaeda and to map the way ahead for their region.
“We were notified of the meeting at about 8 p.m. the night before,” said Lt. Col. Brian Coppersmith, commander of War Rakkasans, 1st Squadron, 33rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). “We weren’t sure why the conference was being called on such short notice. We have learned that things move fast when they are this good.”
Coppersmith was invited by Abu Maruf to observe the event.
Members of more than 30 tribes attended the conference; both Sunnis and Shias were represented. Their differences were set aside for the day as they publicly united with one voice and vowed to fight al-Qaeda and work toward a lasting peace for their region.
Maruf facilitated the conference and announced the formation of the Baghdad Brigade which will provide support to the region stretching from Yusufiyah to Taji. The brigade will consist of not only military elements, but also be the umbrella organization for their socio-political initiatives.
Coppersmith said this show of accord across sectarian and tribal lines may be an indicator of better things to come in this part of Baghdad.
The soldiers of 1-33rd Cav. Regt. will play a part in this new awakening.
“We will act as facilitators,” Coppersmith said. “We will assist by giving it structure and prioritizing meetings focusing on security, reconciliation and essential services. We will put substance to the initiatives with money and effort and help them put words into action.”
More than 350 officials of varying ranks and positions within their tribes were present to participate in the conference. In addition to the public declarations of unity, the tribal sheiks declared their support for a representative government and council members were voted on immediately following the speeches. Meetings with key ministries of the government of Iraq have been scheduled for the near future.
At the conference, in addition to the 1-33rd Cav. Regt., military advisors from the 1st Cavalry Division and the 3rd Marine Regiment were present with their Iraqi counterparts. The diversity of uniforms and unit patches present is another indicator of the distances the sheiks traveled to participate in this conference. Sheiks from as far as 30 to 40 kilometers north and south of Abu Ghraib traveled to attend the conference.
With Al Qaeda routed, and Sunni and Shia reconciling, do you think the Democrats will be able to can the BDS for one moment, and consider what’s best for both the U.S and Iraq’s interests?
Do check out the White Flag cartoon at Michelle Malkin’s if you haven’t already seen it.
H/T: Speedo Guy