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General Petraeus making things happen in Iraq

Posted by Stephen on March 17, 2007

For months Ramadi, Iraq, has been a hotbed of violence. Sunni Muslim militants took over mosques and used their loudspeakers to broadcast propaganda. A few weeks ago, U.S. soldiers went to the local market, bought speakers and placed them on a tall, white tower inside their base.

The U.S. military used them to broadcast messages from the mayor and local sheiks. They added versus from the Koran, the local news, the Iraqi national anthem, and soccer scores from across Europe.

“This is good counterinsurgency stuff right here,” said Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. general in Iraq.

Petraeus also succeeded in persuading Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to visit a U.S. military base in the province, his first foray to volatile Anbar in nine months as Iraq’s leader. Petraeus said Maliki was there to show that the Shiite-led central government cared about those outside the capital regardless of their sect. Petraeus had urged Maliki to fly to Ramadi, said Marine Maj. Gen. Walter E. Gaskin, the top U.S. commander in Anbar. Petraeus, Gaskin recalled, told the Iraqi leader, “You’ve visited Iran, and you haven’t visited Anbar. You need to come and visit your folks.”

“He responded to that positively,” recalled Gaskin.

Maliki is now promising to improve electricity services, rebuild the war-shattered infrastructure and compensate residents for property damaged in battles or by insurgent attacks. Maliki also met with Sunni tribal sheiks. Many of the sheiks have turned against al-Qaeda in Iraq and other Sunni militants and aligned themselves with U.S. forces and the Iraqi government. Petraeus has been courting the tribal leaders, many of whom were once sympathetic to the Sunni insurgency, to break with al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Maliki has promised to begin aggressive funding of rebuilding projects in provinces across Iraq that have been devastated by the war. He recently told Sunni sheiks that he would increase funding for the rebuilding of schools, hospitals and other infrastructure needs while also vowing to improve security.

“Perhaps this can be the beginning of a Sunni Arab political identity,” said Petraeus, “to really gather some mass and momentum in that regard so that they have a bloc or a voice that is not as fragmented as it is has been up till now.”

During the recent efforts led by U.S. troops, under the guidance of Petraeus, insurgents have been pushed farther east and north of Ramadi’s center. The violence has dropped by 70 percent, according to their statistics.

As a result, a new offensive is being launched. This time instead of guns and bombs, the weapons are hammers and shovels as the military focuses on an aggressive push to rebuild infrastructure and provide core service needs for the citizens of this newly liberated neighborhood.

If General Petraeus is given the resources, time, and faith necessary to get the job done, his plan will provide the groundwork for a peaceful conclusion to a very difficult war. Petraeus is providing the kind of leadership that has always been America’s trademark when she is at her best. Time will tell whether Iraqi’s will step to the forefront to accept the responsibility of taking charge of their destiny. If they do not, then the United States can exit knowing that the problem lay within the Iraqi makeup rather than the American plan.

Stephen Winslow is the executive editor of Conservative Viewpoints.

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One Response to “General Petraeus making things happen in Iraq”

  1. JWW said

    Nice to read something positive about the recent “surge” effort. If conditions on the ground improve and Iraqis step up the rebuilding of infrastructure and their economy, we’ll be able to see the improvements that even the mainstream media will have to accept. Thanks for the update. Keep up the positive reporting!

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