Monday, January 12, 2004

My translator later explains the importance of the Al-Buessa tribe in Falluja; its harsh, simple notions of honor, a hallmark of Al Anbar province. While Falluja s resistance is coloured by the leadership of the many ex-Baathists and regime members in the town, it is also marked by the fiercely proud credo of its tribes - in particular the al- Buessa, which claims responsibility for the downing of the Chinook.

It is the Al-Buessa too, Drinkwine says, who were behind an attack by rocket-propelled grenade on the mayor s office that injured two of his men in the 82nd. And it is the al-Buessa area by the bridge which is one of the most dangerous areas of Falluja for homemade bombs.

The Al-Buessa tribe are the biggest pain in the butt and the biggest problem, says Captain Love. When we first came to Falluja, the Al-Buessa leader in the area by the bridge, Sheikh Ghazi (Sami Al- Abed], was all over the previous guys here, giving barbecues and introducing us to this great guy. Our reaction was: Whoa. Who is this man and what does he want ?

The answer, believes Love, reveals a snapshot not just of Falluja, but of Iraq s resistance; how local political, tribal and financial struggles are finding their expression in the fight against the Coalition in a country that is increasingly hostile to the occupation.

The map drawn by Love of Falluja s fighters describes a battle for supremacy within the Al-Buessa tribe between Sheikh Ghazi Sami Al-Abed, who has the money but no power, and his cousin Saradran Barakat, who has the power but no money.

It has forced the two rivals into an unhappy partnership to protect their positions within the tribe with Ghazi - according to the 82nd - supplying the money, either voluntarily or under pressure, to fund the resistance, and the now arrested Barakat the muscle and the know-how. The full picture, Love believes, is completed by the presence in the city of members of the Muslim and Islamic Brotherhoods, Ansar Al-Islam and Wahhabi extremists, the latter helping to channel money from Arab radicals.

Although there are serious full time Arabic experts studying the multiple tribes of Iraq, ultimately the American people will need to support the efforts of the Iraqi people to avoid war and chaos. Anything that brings us a little bit closer to understanding the problem helps - and Fallujah is one of the main centers of conflict in Iraq.

Take this for what it's worth.

Who is Tides?

TIDES World Press Reports has recently been funded to directly support the efforts of the CPA in Iraq. Our newest report – the TIDES Iraq Reconstruction Report (TIRR) – is a synthesis of the TIDES Middle East Report (MER) and the Iraq Public Infrastructure and Humanitarian Assistance Report (IPIHAR), and more exclusively focused on internal issues of consequence to the safety and security of coalition forces in Iraq and on humanitarian assistance and reconstruction efforts.

Update: "Saudi Gazette" seems to be the address which forwarded an article in the British paper the Observer to TIDES.

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