North Baghdad Council Meets to Discuss Security
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May. 13, 2006 "In the meeting we just had, we agreed that there are no Sunni or Shiia, we are all Iraqi brothers and we're all working for the future of Iraq," said Sheikh Haday Hameed al-Sultan today through an interpreter.
Maj. Gen. Maj. Gen. Ayoub Bashar, commander, 9th Iraqi Army Division, stands in front of the community leaders during the first North Baghdad Community Cooperative Council Meeting on Camp Taji, Iraq, May 13. Photo by Spc. C. Terrell Turner, USA
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The sheikh was one of about 50 leaders attending a meeting of theof the North Baghdad Cooperative Council.
Iraqi Maj. Gen. Ayoub Bashir, commander of the 9th Division, and U.S. Army Col. Jim Pasquarette, commander of the 1st Brigade 4th Infantry Division, co-chaired the meeting. The men called the meeting as a framework upon which community and tribal leaders can help build stability and security.
Pasquarette said he was encouraged by what he heard during the meeting. "What I heard here is an acknowledgment that there is a desire to fix this problem by the Iraqis," the colonel said. The parties agreed to meet again in a month to continue working the security problem, and Pasquarette said he is very familiar with the people's security.
The Iraqis themselves are going to have to fix this problem, Pasquarette said. But U.S. soldiers are helping train the Iraqi forces to ultimately handle the security environment in the area.
The colonel cited three objectives for the meeting. The first was to focus on the future and not on past issues that divided the leaders. "There was not animosity in the room over past problems," he said.
The second goal was to get the leaders to agree to continue to meet. "I didn't want to come out of this meeting with everybody unsatisfied, and thinking that it wasn't worth it," he said. "But we did get the agreement to meet again."
The third goal was to establish a communications network that will allow all the leaders to talk among themselves. "If there is a problem, leaders can call one another and quickly fix it before it becomes larger," Pasquarette said.
He said he asked the leaders to come to the next meeting with concrete proposals on how Iraqi forces can improve security in the region.
Security in the region is paramount, and stability will follow, said a local sheikh. "There is good cooperation from the Iraqi police and army to establish security in the area," Sheikh al-Sultan said.
The sheikh also said he was pleased with the support coalition forces provide. "They are very responsive when you call them," he said.
His village got hit with mortars, and coalition troops came out at night to secure the area. "If we have the close communications between Iraqi forces and coalition forces, we will be able to control the area and keep it safe," he said.