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Friday, October 26, 2007

Have You Heard About the Iraqi Parade Against al-Qaeda in Ramadi?

I think one of the most damning things about our media today is when you look for the recent parade that was held in Ramadi, Iraq, this week, when you do a search, there is very little in the news about it. (Time article about the parade)

What a shame.

Have you heard of it? Wonder why? Email the major newspapers and ask them.

We heard quite a bit about bin Laden's video, admitting mistakes and calling for insurgents to all unite against the Americans in Iraq, and how al-Qaeda supporters are upset that al-Jareeza reported it, but barely a peep about how the Iraqi's not only ignored bin Laden, but invited the U.S. Forces to watch their parade.

Osama bin Laden's latest call for Iraqi insurgents to unite against Americans fell on deaf ears this week in Ramadi, the city that al-Qaeda leaders once declared the seat of a new Islamic caliphate and capital of the Iraqi insurgency. Rather than rise up against them, the people of Ramadi Tuesday invited U.S. forces to watch a massive parade — albeit one so tightly secured that no pedestrian traffic got close to it. The almost surreal, two-hour martial procession was led by the city's children to commemorate the martyred leader of a tribal revolt that has virtually silenced al-Qaeda in Anbar Province. It gave the Baghdad government a photo-op to make points about national unity, and so the Shi'a dominated government sent a representative to Sunni Ramadi. "With unity, victory is possible," said Iraqi Defense Adviser Mowaffak al Rubaei, clearly referring to bin Laden's attempt to drum up support for a renewed anti-American uprising.

Tuesday's two-hour convoy — which wound through more than four miles of bullet- and bomb-ridden city decimated by the very worst of the war — celebrated the life of Ramadi's favorite son, Sheik Sattar Abu Risha, the romantic icon of the region's sudden turn against al-Qaeda and Islamic extremists. Though Sattar was killed by an insurgent's bomb on Sept. 13, his "Awakening" movement lives on and his image adorned police cars, armored vehicles and city walls for Tuesday's parade marking the end of 40 days of mourning. Hundreds of Iraqi police officers and soldiers beamed as they passed the reviewing stands manned by tribal sheiks, military brass and civilian leaders at the Government Center.

The pity of it is that the crowds had to be kept a couple blocks away, but as a symbolic gesture and a great big "screw you" to al-Qaeda, they held a parade, they showed unity and pride in the accomplishments they have fought so hard for.

Marines and soldiers who work in the region every day said they've witnessed a sea change and welcomed the celebration. "I've seen the full transformation of Iraq," said Marine Warrant Officer Bobby Garza, who works on a team of 40 U.S. advisers helping train a 9,000-man Iraqi Army battalion near Ramadi. Garza said he's working on the second half of his fourth tour in Iraq. "It's a beautiful thing," he said from his spot on a wall outside Government Center, which was the focus of al-Qaeda attacks for most of the last four years. "We wouldn't have been sitting here doing this in January. No way," he said. "But just in a blink of an eye you could see this place change. The people just switched and wouldn't let [al-Qaeda] back into their communities. It's wild."

Where are the headlines in NYT, Wapo, AP...our MSM?

After the parade, al Rubaie sat comfortably as the head guest of Sattar's brother, Sheik Ahmed Abu Risha, who took over the Awakening movement after Sattar's death. Older and rounder than his warrior brother, Ahmed seemed more like a middle-aged businessman. He and the other sheiks skipped over the talk of security and moved right on to the issues of reconstruction and governance — until someone asked if he still feared al-Qaeda.

"Al-Qaeda never wanted to see the sons of Anbar to unite and form security forces. Now I think we have broken their back by building the police and security force," he said, adding that he was not afraid of meeting the same fate as his younger brother Sattar. "Let them come forward and show their faces.... Let them come out, we will fight them," he said with a certain swagger before leaving. His younger brother had said something similar several days before he was killed in September. But al-Qaeda's presence has dwindled dramatically since then, officials say. "Insha'allah" — God willing — an Army captain said.

Key words "Parade in Ramadi Iraq", go look for yourself. One story on the search page and that is the one I quoted for you.

Hiding this type of news from the American people is a slap in our troops, coalition and Iraqi security forces, faces.

They have all fought so hard and have suffered great losses and criticisms and this refusal to acknowledge something they are so proud of, is nonsense.

Just yesterday we found out that overall violence is down to pre-Golden Mosque bombing levels.

**As Brigadier General Gurganus said on Sunday, about 2,200 U.S. Marines from the 13th MEU have left Anbar province. That unit, a part of the original surge force, represented about half the surge forces in Al Anbar. They've left as part of their normal timeline and won't be replaced in Iraq.

**U.S. forces have contributed humanitarian services in support of multiple projects, improving the quality of life for the local citizens. And for example, this government has built 16 schools, 7 medical facilities over 80 kilometers of roadways and 25 water improvement projects.

**Violence in and around Baghdad is down 59 percent.

**Car bombs are down 65 percent.

**Casualties from car bombs and roadside bombs are down by 80 percent.

**Casualties from enemy attacks down 77 percent.

**Operations against Iraqi security forces are down 62 percent.

**Assassination attempts for sectarian reasons are down 72 percent.

This is all progress, success and accomplishments that men and women have risked their lives to make happen and our media cannot even be bothered to tell us about it?

Congratulations on your parade Iraq... a job well done to our troops and to the coalition forces and to the Iraqi security forces.

Ask yourself, when we win this battle in Iraq and we will win, we already are, will you even know it? Do you look for the news or do you depend on your media outlets to tell you?

Do you even care?

Friday Free For All at Stop the ACLU.