64,000 Iraqis Return Home From Syria

Iraqi Christians attend mass at Saint Joseph’s Church in the northern Kurdish town of Ainkawa in December 2007. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Tuesday told the Vatican’s ambassador to Iraq that his government is committed to ensuring the safety of Christians. (AFP/Safin Hamed)

Iraqi-American Haider Ajina sends this news from the Iraqi media.
The following is from Iraq’s Alsabah News paper on January 7, 2008:

64000 Iraqis Returned Back From Syria Last 3 Months
Karbala’, Jan.7

Iraqi Red Crescent announced that, the number of returned citizens from Syria over the last 3 months reached up to 64000 citizens, most of them from Baghdad (38 000) citizens. 20000 of them in Karch districts and 18000 in Rasafa districts, while 7,177 citizens from the other provinces. Worth mentioning that, Dorra district recorded the biggest number (2635) in Karch districts with the returned number in Iskan district amounted (412) citizen, while Adhamya recorded the biggest returned number in Rasafa district (2657) citizen and Wazeriya district recorded less number of the returned (613) citizen.

Haider Ajina comments:

These numbers do not include Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia or Iran, let alone Europe, the Americas North Africa or Australia. Large numbers have been reported returning from Jordan, and Egypt and some from the West. The improved security in Baghdad and almost all provinces is presenting a challenge for the Immigration and Refugee Ministry. No one had anticipated the large number of retuning Iraqis. Each returning Family once they have turned in the appropriate form is given a respectable amount of funds (by the government) to try to rebuild their lives (this is similar to the assistance for our victims of hurricanes earth quakes etc.). Some have found their homes occupied, some destroyed or partially destroyed and a few have been lucky enough to have friends and family look after their homes. Solutions for repatriation of Iraqis are difficult and costly; they are a sign of progress however.

Iraqis are surging back home to rebuild lives in their new democracy.

David Matsuda (L), an anthropology professor, and Staff Sergeant Dustin Brueggemann from the 2nd Brigade combat team, 82nd Airborne Division distribute soft drinks to Iraqi boys during a patrol in Baghdad’s Adhamiya district January 5, 2008. Matsuda is part of the U.S. military “Human Terrain Team” (HTT) programme, which embeds anthropologists with combat brigades in Iraq and Afghanistan in the hope of helping tactical commanders in the field understand local cultures. Picture taken January 5, 2008. (REUTERS/Mahmoud Raouf Mahmoud)

Haider Ajina also sends this good news from Baghdadi:

COMMAND OUTPOST BAGHDADI — How many Marines does it take to secure Baghdadi? Last year, it took an entire company. Then, as the situation improved, that number dropped to a platoon. And now, with the onset of 2008, the grand total is zero.

The Marines of 2nd Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 2, have completely pulled out of Command Outpost Baghdadi. Fortunately for local citizens, their replacements are already hard at work.

In a monumental step toward Iraqi sovereignty, the Baghdadi police force has taken sole responsibility of security within the city limits — the first to do so in all of Anbar Province.

“In the past, battalions were measured on how many battle positions they established during a deployment,” said Marine Lt. Col. J.J. Dill, commanding officer of 1st Battalion, 7th Marines. “It showed they were moving out into the community, partnering with (Iraqi security forces) to make things happen. But in this stage of the counterinsurgency battle, it’s not how many we put up, it’s how many we take down.”

The transfer of authority comes as a direct result of the Baghdadi police force’s validation, which is determined by U.S. and Coalition forces.

If the Baghdadi police need emergency assistance, the Marines won’t be far behind.
(Story by Cpl. Adam Johnston, U.S. Marine Corps)

Haider Ajina comments:

The awakening committees and tribal cooperation which we initiated have contributed tremendously to the weakening of Alqaida and its allies in Iraq. Many of the awakening committee soldiers are joining either the Iraqi Army or the Police once the situation has calmed. This is encouraging. The last thing we need in Iraq is the birth of new militias be they tribal, ethnic or sectarian. This process of taking in these awakening committee soldiers into the government security apparatus is a delicate and difficult one. However, it is far better than having to fight a strong Alqaida with a ripe recruiting ground. These awakening committees with their soldiers and our military have weakened Alqaida and dried up it’s recruiting grounds in Iraq. Thus the tremendous increase in the percentage of foreign fighters in Iraq. This is also being combated by improving border monitoring and involving Iraq’s neighbors, lest they become the next target of the Takfiri militants, for even they do not want to live under a Taliban type oppression.

Haider Ajina

Related… Michael Totten has another one of his terrific reports from Fallujah posted today.

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