Defeat of Al-Qa’ida Capital Means Progress In The Central Anbar Province
By: Guest Authors
By Norman Lihou
Just last year Ramadi was one of the most violent cities in the world and averaged 30 – 35 daily attacks. The attack numbers have now dropped to less than one a week. Ramadi has gone 300 days, since March 31, 20007, without an attack. The routing of Al-Qa’ida in Iraq came through the combined efforts of local tribal and religious leaders, the continuing buildup of Iraqi forces and capabilities along with joint security from Coalition Forces.
The population in the area turned on the virulent ideology of Al-Qa’ida and its tactics. Al-Qaida tried to control the Iraqi people through intimidation and the murder of innocent non-combatants. One of the local religious leaders put it into perspective by saying “It is better to die a free man than live under the thumb of Al Qa’ida.” Al-Qa’ida has been driven from the city and now operates from remote areas in the Euphrates River Valley. Ramadi was once declared the capital of the 12 provinces of the Islamic State of Iraq aka Al-Qa’ida in Iraq.
Besides the restoration of a normalized social system, there have been gains in reconstruction and economic development. The U.S. military has completed 1600 reconstruction and day-labor projects to repair the devastated Ramadi city infrastructure. These repairs are expected to raise the standard of living by providing clean water, electricity and spurring local commerce.
Economic developments have included the building of a small business center which will award future reconstruction projects, the facilitation of micro-grants for small business owners, helping the Iraqis open a ceramics factory and created fishing and farming co-operatives that improved the regional agriculture capability. Commerce is expected to improve as the main traffic route reopens after closing in 2004.
The local government has increased form one person to a full city council in the past year. The Council is comprised of members who represent the 13 neighborhood communities. with the standing up of additional local security forces, government has been able to enforce the law and now prosecute criminals in the reestablished judicial system.
As recently as last September the local citizens held a 5K fun run on a street that once was marred by continual violence. The city opened the country’s second museum.
Realize there are still many challenges to securing the Iraqi environment. One pressing need involves the national government’s financial and logistical support to local police. Where once only Coalition Forces patrolled the streets, now the local Iraqi forces lead the fight.
As our forces have shown, defeating an insurgency entails the use of more than just a military power. The military needs to be combined with the economic, social and political solutions as demonstrated with great success in Ramadi.
Norman Lihou is the Director of Intelligence at the Non Governmental Intelligence Agency (NGIA) (http://www.thengia.org) and provides analysis about information he finds at the website Thinking Points (http://thinkingpoints.thengia.org/). NGIA is committed to provide a pure analysis of current and ongoing situations in the world, while applying historical lessons learned for a comprehensive view of how that may impact our lives. This analysis is conducted without any political, administration, organization and/or agency bias, agenda, goals or gains. NGIA goes beyond the headlines and the sound bites to better educate and inform the public, business and government sectors on what they can do to recognize the threat and protect themselves.