Per Dave Kilcullen in the Small Wars Journal, the AQI jihadis overplayed a brutal hand in al Anbar and it blew up their faces:
Several major tribes are now ‚Äúup‚Äù against AQ, across all of Anbar, Diyala, Salah-ad-din, parts of Babil and Baghdad (both city and province). Some in Anbar and Diyala have formed ‚ÄúSalvation Councils‚Äù, looking to well-known leadership figures like Sheikh Sittar ar Rishawi, or to community leaders. In other provinces things tend to be quite informal, based on local elders. In Anbar the movement has acquired the name ‚Äúthe awakening‚Äù.
The uprising against AQI has dramatically improved security. In Ramadi, Hit, Tikrit, Fallujah and other centers the rate of civilian deaths has dropped precipitously, and overall attacks are down far below historic trends, to almost nothing in some places. For anyone familiar with these places from earlier in the war, it can be quite disorienting to watch Iraqis walking safely and openly in streets which, a year ago, would have required a major operation just to traverse. This change seems to have passed some observers by, but it is one of the truly significant developments in Iraq this year.
It’s a good read as well as a reminder: There really aren’t many forces more powerful than enlightened self-interest. Turns out that getting their leaders killed by Zarqawi’s thugs while their sons die battling coalition forces even as the walls came tumbling down around them wasn’t a compelling vision of the future for the western tribes.
Jeff Goldstein brings the article home, comparing the nuanced view of Iraqi tribal structure Kilcullen brings to the discourse with civil war narrative favored by our own national tribunes:
(If) the press doesn‚Äôt understand the dynamic on the ground, why are they so committed to pushing a particular version, one that happens to favor the propaganda efforts of al Qaeda? Is it mere credulity? An inveterate distrust of our own military and the administration‚Äôs foreign policy? Or do they find such an intergral narrative of a burgeoning civil war in Iraq useful to their larger narrative, the most prominent theme of which appears to be a kind of pervasive fatalism, often manifested in a return to the Vietnam paradigm and the specter of a quagmire?
You really do tend to miss some things, relying on the Cliff Notes.