Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Al-Qaida, the Tribes, and the Government. Lessons and Prospects for Iraq's Unstable Triangle

Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Al-Qaida, the Tribes, and the Government. Lessons and Prospects for Iraq's Unstable Triangle

Article excerpt

Al-Qaida, the Tribes, and the Government. Lessons and Prospects for Iraq's Unstable Triangle. By Norman Cigar. Quantico: Marine Corps University Press, 201 1 . 207 pp. $24.

President George W. Bush's announcement of "the surge" in 2007 in Iraq defied conventional wisdom. Congressmen, diplomats, and journalists all argued that Iraq was spiraling into civil war and that there remained no military option to return it to stability. And yet, the push to flood troops into Iraq and, especially, its Sunni hinterlands, reversed the course of the war.

The surge was not only a military strategy, however; it played on complex tribal relationships in Iraq's "Sunni Triangle," the area roughly between Baghdad, Tikrit, and Ramadi. AI-Qaeda initially found support among Iraqi Sunni Arabs who felt disenfranchised by the loss of influence following Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's ouster. AI-Qaeda overreached, however; its tendency to run roughshod over local tribal customs created a backlash. Sunni-dominated Awakening councils emerged, which abandoned the insurgency to join forces with the surging U.S. troops. AlQaeda, in turn, rebounded somewhat by exploiting tensions between the Awakening councils and the Shiite-dominated central government in Baghdad. …

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