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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

300 sheikhs gather to plan security transition

Courtesy of Multi-National Force Iraq

300 sheikhs gather to plan security transition

Brig. Gen. James Huggins from Augusta, Ga., deputy commanding general for maneuver of the Multi-National DivisionCenter, talks with an Iraqi governmental official as they move into a sheik meeting in Baghdad, Oct. 4. The meeting between 300 sheikhs, Iraqi security force leaders, Iraqi governmental leaders and Coalition forces focused on reconciliation. Photo taken by Maj. Joseph Sowers, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division Public Affairs.

BAGHDAD — Iraqi governmental officials met with more than 300 sheikhs from the Mada’in Qada in Baghdad to discuss the way ahead for reconciliation in their area, Oct. 4.  (A qada is roughly equivalent to a county in the U.S.).

Leaders from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division and Multi-National Division Center attended as observers.

“When this many sheiks attend a meeting such as this, it is an indicator that the people are tired of the violence and have a desire to return to normalcy,” said Maj. Dave Fivecoat from Delaware, Ohio, 3rd BCT operations officer.

The sheikhs agreed security in the qada had improved since the arrival of the 3rd BCT in March 2007, and pledged to continue cooperation with U.S. and Iraqi security forces (ISF) to fight terrorism. To that end, they discussed a plan that would lead to the eventual acceptance of concerned local citizens into the Iraqi security forces.

The sheikhs also proposed a plan to increase coordination between tribal leaders and the government.

U.S. commanders hold out the concerned citizens programs as Iraq’s best hope for reconciliation and stabilization from the ground up, but stress that the concerned citizens must, in a timely manner, be folded into the official Iraqi security forces.

According to Maj. Jeremy Moore, 3rd BCT Iraqi security force liaison, the meeting was a positive step toward that transition.



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