When one gathers together the bits and pieces of reports from all across Iraq, one is left with only one conclusion regarding the situation there … it is as Petraeus says.

Cooper:

Until recently, Yusufiyah was among the most dangerous places in Iraq.

Located in the so-called “triangle of death,” a violent area south of Baghdad, it was the site of frequent clashes between coalition forces and Sunni fighters. In May, two U.S. soldiers went missing in Yusufiyah and were never found, despite a massive search.

But today, Sunni tribal leaders in this town cooperate with U.S. forces in their battle against foreign fighters and al Qaeda in Iraq.

“It’s all the roll of the dice. It’s people and politics all intertwined down here,” said Col. Michael Kershaw, commander of the Second Brigade, 10th Mountain Division.

Yon:

Block after block we moved. The soldiers had brought along an officer who was not infantry and who was not ready for the heat and combat movement. He was having serious trouble, so they slowed down.

Soon we met up with a group of 1920s men; I counted 19. They were outfitted with AKs and ammo pouches. Most did not want their photos taken, but this man wanted everyone to see, and he threw his arm around one of our soldiers and pointed to my camera. Our guys do not trust the 1920s, but the relationship is working when it comes to killing al Qaeda and reconstruction in Baqubah. Al Qaeda only knows how to kill and intimidate. 1920s are concerned about water projects and so forth, and they help with more than fighting. Their goals include returning Baqubah back into civilization.

A few months ago we called them terrorists. Today we call them Concerned Local Nationals. When we were in a good mood, we used to call them illegal or rogue militias. Now we call them Neighborhood Watches, or in this case, “Baqubah Guardians.” It’s truly working well. They do not have uniforms and most who wish to join have not been hired as policemen yet.

 

First published @ Celestial Junk

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