Shaky U.S.-Sheikh Alliance Tempers Violence in Iraq

Sheikh Ali Amer Suleiman and nephew Sheikh Ali Hattem i i

Sheikh Ali Amer Suleiman (left), shown with his nephew Sheikh Ali Hattem, is one of several Sunni sheikhs who have returned to al-Anbar province after living in exile. Maj. Kurt Ebaugh, U.S. Marine Corps hide caption

itoggle caption Maj. Kurt Ebaugh, U.S. Marine Corps
Sheikh Ali Amer Suleiman and nephew Sheikh Ali Hattem

Sheikh Ali Amer Suleiman (left) is one of several Sunni sheikhs who has returned to al-Anbar province after living in exile. He and his nephew Sheikh Ali Hattem (right) meet with U.S. Brig. Gen. John Allen, the deputy commander of U.S. forces in the province.

Maj. Kurt Ebaugh, U.S. Marine Corps

Violence in Iraq's al-Anbar province has dropped dramatically since the beginning of the year, due in large part to friendly relations between coalition forces and local sheikhs who have decided to ally with the U.S. in the fight against al-Qaida.

Now that the province is safer, some tribal leaders who had fled the country during the violence are coming home. Old rivalries are re-emerging as the sheikhs jockey for leadership positions in the new alliance.

While the tribes for the most part remain united in their commitment to fight al-Qaida, their internal power struggles make it more difficult for U.S. forces in al-Anbar province to manage their relationships with the tribes — an alliance that has been key in the struggle to secure the volatile region.

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