BBC’s ‘Secret Iraq’
Last night, the BBC broadcasted the first part of ‘Secret Iraq’, a fascinating documentary about the Iraqi insurgency and subsequent Sunni ‘Awakening’. You can watch it on BBC iPlayer here.
The Independent also ran a story about the programme, which focuses on the exclusive testimony of Sheikh Abdel Jabbar, one of the insurgent leaders who led the break from al-Qaeda in late November 2006. Although this is his first public appearance, a number of other Sheikhs who requested help from the Americans to fight al-Qaeda are also featured in Linda Robinson’s excellent narrative of the Awakening, Tell Me How This Ends (Public Affairs, 2008).
The Sunni Awakening and ‘Sons of Iraq’ movement is widely regarded as the main reason for a dramatic decrease in violence and other al-Qaeda activity in Iraq. There have been suggestions from senior NATO/ISAF officials, including Gen. David Petraeus, that a similar strategy of empowering local militias could work in Afghanistan, though there are a number of fundamental differences between the two conflicts that could prevent such an approach from succeeding. What are your views on such a strategy?
For a truly in-depth analysis of the various insurgent groups in Iraq since 2003, and their relationship with al-Qaeda, see The Terrorists of Iraq: Inside the Strategy and Tactics of the Iraqi Insurgency (Booksurge, 2007), by Malcolm W. Nance.