Adam L. Silverman, PhD*
In the comments to the recent post dealing with Iraq we had a good discussion pertaining to the Sons of Iraq and Sahwa movement, especially in regard to how they have been dealt with by the Government of Iraq during the run up to the 1999 provincial elections, in the run up to the 2010 parliamentary election, and since that election was finally resolved. I have referenced the field work I did on behalf of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team/1st Armored Division in many of my posts on Iraq, as well as in comments to those and other posts. Of all the forty-five formal, semi-structured interviews I did, only one focused solely on the Awakening Movement in the area, the formation of the Sons of Iraq, and the clearing of what would become our operating environment: Mada'in Qada. While the first article derived from these notes was published last July in the Cambridge Review of International Affairs, it only draws from and references the interview material as source and subject material. I think that one of the best ways to get a window into the Awakenings is to simply post the interview that dealt solely with them. For those that might have concerns: these are not raw field notes, rather they are transcribed interviews. I have cleaned them up, included editor's notations in parentheses when appropriate, and in other transcribed interviews have obscured the identity of the subject of the engagement when asked to do so by that individual. All of these forty-five formal interviews, as well as the dozens of more informal ones I conducted with non-elites, are unclassified and in this case (as in the majority of the formal interviews) I have written permission to attribute the interview to the subject I was engaging with. Before I get into the details I do want to thank my team mates, many of whom accompanied and assisted me with these engagements (Brian, Gene, Dana, Billy, and Larry - you are all the best), as well as the men and women of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team/1st Armored Division who kept us safe while we were doing our jobs; may they always Strike Hard!
The interview that follows was conducted between myself and Qais Shather Khmees al Jabouri. Qais, a retired Iraqi Army brigadier general, is also referred to as Sheikh Qais. His cousin Sheikh Sammi Abbas al Jabouri is the Grand Sheikh of the Jabouris in the area. Additionally, Qais is fluent in English and we conducted the whole interview in English. In the interview Qais references a number of other individuals in the area - his cousin Mahmoud Jablowi who was killed by a formed IED placed in his car in the late Summer of 2009, Sayeed Khadum al Dinanawi from Nahrwan, and a variety of company, battalion, and brigade officers. I will not identify the latter by name as they had all redeployed long before I conducted the interview, I know only a few of them (the battalion and brigade commanders), and do not have their permission to identify them. The battalions that Sheikh Qais referred to are the 1st Battalion/15th Infantry Regiment, the 3rd Squadron/1st US Cavalry, and the brigade is the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team/3rd Infantry Division. 3HBCT/3ID was the first sustained coalition forces element in the area and the 2BCT/1AD replaced them in the Spring of 2008.
It is important to remember that Sheikh Qais told me what he wanted me to know. While he was the subject of my engagement, I was also his conduit for getting his point of view back to my brigade commander, as well as to the battalion commanders that he routinely dealt with. In 2010 Qais was elected to Iraq's Parliament as a member of the Iraqiyya List and subsequently went into hiding when PM Maliki's government, in an attempt to change the electoral plurality that Iraqiyya had achieved at the polls, issued a warrant for his and two other Iraqiyya members arrest.
Two final notes before we start: 1) I've tried to un-acronym most of this, but just in case: CF is coalition forces, GOI is government of Iraq, SOI is Sons of Iraq, IA is Iraqi Army, NP is National Police, and AQI is al Qaeda in Iraq and 2) because the interview runs five pages, I'm attaching it as a pdf file so it doesn't clutter up SST and push out other recent posts.
* Adam L. Silverman is the Culture and Foreign Language Advisor at the US Army War College. The views expressed here are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the US Army War College, the US Army, or the US Government