Something odd is happening in Ramadi, once considered the most dangerous city in Iraq.
Residents reported curious declarations hanging from mosque walls and market stalls recently in Ramadi...The fliers said Iraqi militants had turned on and were killing foreign al-Qaida fighters, their one-time allies.
It seems followers of Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi are no longer welcome in Anbar province
"So far we have cleared 75 percent of the province and forced al-Qaida terrorists to flee to nearby areas," said Osama al-Jadaan, a leader of the Karabila tribe, which has thousands of members living along the Syrian border.
He said his people have captured hundreds of foreign fighters and handed them to authorities.
The drive, dubbed Operation Tribal Chivalry, is designed to secure the country's borders with Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia to prevent foreign fighters from crossing in.
Gee, I wonder if in their rush to declare a non-existent "civil war" in Iraq, the media has confused some bombings and killings that were actually Iraqis driving out terrorists with "sectarian" violence.Relations between residents and the foreign fighters started to sour, however, when the foreigners started killing Iraqis suspected of having links to the Americans or even for holding a government job.
The rift became an outright split four months ago, with a wave of assassinations and bombings that killed scores of Anbar residents. The attacks were blamed on al-Qaida.
In late November, tribal and religious leaders, former army officers and hundreds of ordinary Iraqis met in Ramadi with U.S. military commanders for a first-ever comprehensive dialogue on what could be done to speed a U.S. withdrawal.
Afterward, gunmen began killing some of those who had met with the Americans or who had urged Sunnis in the region to vote in the U.S.-backed parliamentary elections Dec. 15. Several top clerics and a tribal leader were killed.
The deadliest attack — a suicide bombing Jan. 5 among a line of police recruits in Ramadi — killed at least 58, including U.S. troops.
Stunned city residents turned on al-Qaida, and al-Jadaan announced an agreement with the U.S.-backed Iraqi government to help with security.
The moves by al-Jadaan's men and Iraqi army units against al-Qaida forced many of the foreign fighters to flee to central and eastern areas of Iraq — some to the mountains near Iran — that have large Sunni populations, al-Jadaan said.
That prompted tribes in the central city of Hawija, where some al-Qaida fighters sought refuge, to issue a statement earlier this week openly declaring war on foreign al-Qaida members.
Claims such as those issued by the tribesmen and local military officers are nearly impossible to confirm, but the considerable drop in suicide bombings throughout the country recently indicates operations by al-Qaida foreigners have been hampered.
Al-Jadaan, the Anbar tribal leader, looked confidently to the future and - if his prediction comes true - what likely will be a hero's role in the eyes of the U.S. military.
``Under my leadership and that of our brothers in other tribes, we are getting close to the shelter of this terrorist,'' al-Jadaan said of al-Zarqawi. ``We will capture him soon.''
This story was not carried in the New York Times....