16 November 2007

Baghdadis “following the light in the west”

Sunnis applying for Iraqi security forces jobs are searched by a 2nd Cavalry (Stryker) Regiment soldier after they arrived at Joint Security Station Cougar. Photo Seth Robson / S&S.

Joint Security Station Cougar, in Baghdad’s Sadiahy neighborhood:

“This is an historic occasion,” said the 2nd Squadron commander [2nd Cavalry (Stryker) Regiment], Lt. Col. Myron Reineke, as he shook hands, first with Fasul Abued Hasson al Joburi, a Sunni sheik who led about 100 members of his clan onto the base to apply for security forces jobs, then with Lt. Col. Fakhir Idair Al Bahadpy, who heads a 400-man battalion of Iraqi police.

Iraqis call the phenomenon of Sunnis joining local security forces “following the light in the west,” one of the U.S. soldiers at JSS Cougar said. In Anbar province, most Sunnis have switched allegiance this year, from backing al-Qaida to supporting the coalition, a move that has led to a drastic reduction in violence west of Baghdad. ...

“I bring my people here to join up to protect our area. It is something new in our life. We want all the Iraqis to mix in here without any problem. Just together in one Iraq. When the Sunni and Shia mix, it will be better. Not just one side,” al-Joburi said, through a translator.

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