Just a day after American officials Petraeus and Crocker touted success in al-Anbar, tragedy struck the Sunni community when a car bomb took the life of Sheik Richa, a vital coalition ally. Of course, this horrible crime coincides with the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan.
The death of Richa brings into sharp focus the deep struggle that will continue to plague the Sunni community in places like Al-Anbar province. Al-Qaeda's brutality and utter callousness will continue to put foriegn jihadists at odds with moderate Sunni and tribal leaders. However, the Sunnis currently find themselves in a position of such insecurity that reconciliation seems father away than closer. Look at it this way: The Sunnis cannot currently be guaranteed oil revenues which will constitute, at least in the near term, 90% of economic activity in the country. They will continue to be infiltrated by Salafists from abroad (as well as hardline Iraqis themselves) who will work with bloody and inhuman persistance to convince Sunnis that only al-Qaeda ideals can protect the Sunnis from the Shi'a dominated government. And finally, their position is further complicated by the fact that the only group that seems willing to bolster the position of the Sunnis is the least liked party of all. (yeah, I'm talking about us)
The complex dynamics that can be revealed when looking a little closer at the seemingly mundane events are more often than not glossed over in the mainstream press. I don't want to get into a hackneyed rant on the flaws of the media, at least not right now. However, I must point out that the complexity of the situation in Iraq (or in any conflict for that matter) cannot be easily parsed out with concepts like "stay the course" or "the surge has been successful."