Spc. Chris McCann
2nd BCT PAO, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI)
MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq — In the midst of a perception of spiraling violence, the Mahmudiyah Qadaa’s first-ever meeting brought together groups from across the sectarian divide in a positive and fruitful discussion Wednsday.
The meeting, held at the Iraqi Army Compound in Mahmudiyah, Iraq, brought together qadaa representatives from Yusufiyah, Mahmudiyah, Al-Rashid and Lutifiyah, as well as Mahmudiyah Mayor Mr. Maayad Fadthil al-Shibli, , Col. Ali al-Frejee, commander of the 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, Col. Mike Kershaw, commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI), Lt. Col. Robert Morschauser, commander of the 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div., and various Iraqi security and coalition forces and Iraqi government representatives.
Col. Ali spoke in regard to the security situation in the Mahmudiyah area, mentioning various examples of security improvements over the last three years, but there is still a long way to go, he said.
“Improving the security situation will require the help of all the people here, and all the civilians that you have influence over,” Ali said.
He also mentioned the numbers of Iraqi soldiers that have been killed and wounded in the defense of their country, and how many terrorists the soldiers have detained – including 81 people targeted by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense.
Ali also stated on camera that he wanted to tell the terrorists that the 4th Brigade, 6th IA Division will not stop hunting them down, a sentiment echoed by Brigadier Gen. Ali, division commander.
The mayor discussed national reconciliation briefly, saying that Iraq has suffered greatly in the recent past and that the qadaa meetings are intended to help the people.
“We need to stop talking about religions and follow the initiatives of Prime Minister (Nouri) Al-Maliki,” he said.
Several representatives from the Lutifiyah, Mahmudiyah, Al-Rasheed and Yusufiyah nahias spoke, mostly about the security situation and the fact that unemployment causes people turn to terrorism – because terror cells pay local residents to place improvised explosive devices, to fire upon Iraqi and coalition forces, and other acts of terrorism.
Most of the nahia representatives thanked the Americans for their assistance and called on tribal leaders to control their areas.
Abu Amar, a member of the Mahmudiyah city council and a Shia, spoke at length.
Abu Amar said that his mission is to serve all Iraqis from Mahmudiyah to Fallujah. He asked for help from the tribes with stopping the outsiders from entering the towns to do harm. Once this threat has stopped, there will be no need for armed men within the city.
Abu Amar, however, also said that he was proud of the Gheriri and Janabi tribes – both Sunni – and Anbari tribe, which is Shia, as well as all of the 20 tribes that are covered under the Mahmudiyah qada area.
“I used to go to any area and drink tea with people from any tribe,” Abu Amar said. “We are one chain that cannot be divided.”
He made a point of stating that attacks in Mahmudiyah kill women and children, and so everyone in the town carries a weapon, to protect their areas, although he wished that there would be no militia and no terrorism.
As a good will gesture to the attending members and as an act of reconciliation, Col. Ali presented a list of 17 detainees, both Sunni and Shia. He said that he had expedited the investigations into their arrests. The 17 had been found innocent and were to be released.
The high point of the meeting and perhaps the most cause for hope came near the end, when Col. Ali introduced Lt. Col. Abdul Muhsin, former commander of the 4th Battalion, 4th Brigade, 6th IA Division and now commander of the 2nd Battalion.
“What tribe are you from?” someone asked.
Muhsin’s reply brought a round of applause from those gathered.
“Iraqi,” he said.
Friday, December 08, 2006
Spc. Chris McCann