Thursday, October 11, 2007

Good News from Iraq: 11 Oct 2007

From MNF-I, Reconciliation begins in Muqdadiya.

MUQDADIYA, Iraq – Approximately 70 tribal leaders, representing 25 tribes from areas throughout the northern Diyala River Valley, met at an Iraqi Army base in Muqdadiya, Iraq, to discuss the way ahead and the need to unite in the fight against terrorism, Oct. 8.

“The solution to security in Diyala is reconciliation,” said Col. David W. Sutherland, commander of Coalition Forces in Diyala province. The meeting was organized by the Director General of Tribal Affairs; the Muqdadiya mayor, Mayor Najem Abdullah Ahmed, the leader of the Iraqi Islamic Party in Diyala, Hamdi Hassoun al-Zubaidi, and a key tribal leader in Muqdadiya, Ali Hamid Mohammed al-Tamimi. It was the first large-scale reconciliation gathering in the Muqdadiya area thus far, which is vital because of the recent operations targeting al-Qaeda in the region.

“We are not here to blame each other,” said Nazim. “We are here to stop the bloodshed.”

“I am asking everyone here to work against the terrorists and al-Qaeda,” the mayor continued. “We have to stand up for our families and for our future.”

During the gathering at Forward Operating Base Fallock, the leaders discussed security and services, as well as ways to move beyond past grievances and issues that have caused previous rifts between sects and tribal areas.

“We don’t want to focus on the past,” said the chairman of Muqdadiya’s city council. “If we can’t solve our problems, no one else can.”

“Who will stand and say they are responsible?” he asked.

After discussing tribal differences and why it is important to unite, the leaders signed a reconciliation agreement and swore over the Quran as a promise to uphold the agreement.

Some conditions of the peace treaty include ending tribal conflicts and attacks; cooperating with the ISF to fight al-Qaeda, militia groups and other terrorist organizations; working with the security forces to remove corrupt members; returning displaced families to their homes; reporting and removing improvised explosive devices; and respecting all sects, religions and women’s rights.

“We need to make our hearts clear,” said Sheik Mustafa al-Tamimi, an influential tribal leader for the Tamimi tribe. “It isn’t about kissing each others’ cheeks or signing paper. It is about acting and taking responsibility.”

“Those who do not participate will be left behind,” Sutherland said.