The U.S. military has been urged to win the support of
Sunni tribal leaders to its low intensity war against insurgents in
The Washington-based Brookings Institution said in a report that the
loyalty of Sunni
tribal leaders is vital for the stabilization of Iraq. The report said
tribal leaders could tip the balance in the insurgency war led by supporters
deposed President Saddam Hussein in cooperation with Al Qaida-aligned
"The support of such tribal groups is particularly important in the
countryside, but it may also be helpful in the large towns," the report,
authored by Amatzia Baram, a leading expert on Iraq and a government
consultant, said. "Such support could be extremely useful as coalition
forces face growing agitation from a few influential radical Shi'ite clergy
and daily armed attacks coming from Sunni Arab supporters of the Baath
regime embittered by the loss of their privileges and hoping to bring Saddam
back to power.
[On Thursday, the U.S. military reported the capture of a commander of
the Fedayeen Saddam militia, Middle East Newsline reported. The military identified the commander as
Rashid Mohammed, accused of organizing Fedayeen operations in Baqouba in the
Entitled "The Iraqi Tribes and the Post-Saddam System," the report said
many in Iraq's leading tribes seek to avenge the brutality of the Saddam
regime and could cooperate with the United States. Baram cited several
tribes, including Saddam's own family, who have held numerous grudges
against the former regime.
Albu Nasir was identified as one of a group of tribes known as the
which included Saddam's relatives and in-laws. The report said Saddam's
brutalities have divided the tribe into pro- and anti-Saddam elements. The
anti-Saddam elements have been alarmed by the rising Iranian influence
among neighboring Shi'ite communities.
"Members of these disgruntled sub-tribal groupings may prove invaluable
to the United States in providing information about weapons of mass
destruction, financial transactions, hide sites, or other regime
activities," the report said.
One branch of the Albu Nasir tribe that could cooperate with the
United States has been led by Maj. Gen. Omar Haza. Haza was tortured by
the Saddam regime and the general's family was said to have been involved
in the assassination attempt against the president's older son, Uday in
"Ultimately, given the nature of Saddam's brutal regime and
uncontrollable paranoia, it is not surprising that there are many other
individuals and clans among the Albu Nasir who are alienated, if not deeply
hostile to him and his nuclear family," the report said.
Saddam rewarded tribal loyalty with cash grants, weapons and an
unofficial license to smuggle goods to and from the country. The report
cited Saddam's favorite tribes, which provided soldiers for elite military
units, as the Jubbur and Luhayb in Sharqat, the Obeid in Al Alam and the Al
Azza from Balad.
The report urged the United States to grant tribal supporters with a
degree of independence from the central authority in Baghdad for the next
two years. Tribal leaders should be wooed and bribed for their support in a
policy that had been pursued by the Saddam regime.
Baram said democracy should be implemented selectively in tribal areas
and employed as a means to penalize uncooperative sheiks. He said free
elections should be imposed in towns controlled by uncooperative or disloyal
tribal leaders in a message that would be understood by their rivals.
The report warned the United States not to confiscate light weapons from
tribes. But heavier weaponry such as rocket launchers, machine guns,
mortars, artillery pieces, and armored personnel carriers should be seized
in exchange for financial reward.
"Indeed, the intent would be not only to deprive the tribes of their
ability to employ large-scale violence for political purposes, but also to
make clear that only the central authority in Baghdad will be allowed to
exercise military power," the report said. "Similarly, the central authority
must make a maximal effort to shut down looting, robbery, attacks on other
tribes, or any use of violence for political purposes."