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Tribal leaders seek Gates help in expanding Al-Anbar police

by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Oct 31, 2007
Tribal leaders from Iraq's Al-Anbar province pressed US Defense Secretary Robert Gates Wednesday for help in expanding the size of the local police forces there, a Pentagon spokesman said.

Gates met for about half an hour with the eight member delegation, and promised to do what he could to be of help, Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said.

"The conversation focused on how to sustain the success that they have won thus far in Anbar, how to sustain it in Anbar and how to replicate it throughout the country," he said.

The province's tribal sheikhs have been at the center of a major turnaround in an area that was once the heart of Iraq's Sunni insurgency.

Despite deep misgivings of Iraq's Shiite-led central government, the US military has enlisted the sheikhs to help fight Al-Qaeda in Iraq and bring members of their tribes into the local police forces.

Morrell said the Anbar leaders want to expand the size of the force to 30,000, and need US help to equip them.

"They wish to have a larger police force, and wish to be able to outfit their local police more effectively," he said.

Gates told them that the Pentagon has asked Congress for more money to expand the Iraqi security forces, including local police, Morrell said.

He said "he would take their request, and do what we could to be of help," the spokesman said.

The delegation included Ahmed Abu Reesha, who succeeded his brother Abdul Sattar Abu Reesha as head of the Anbar Awakening Conference, a coalition of 42 Sunni tribes that turned against Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Abdul Sattar was killed September 13 in a bombing less than two weeks after meeting with President George W. Bush at a US air base in Al-Anbar.

The Al-Anbar provincial governor, the chairman of the provincial council and other council members also were in the Iraqi delegation.

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US military to coordinate security guards in Iraq
Washington (AFP) Oct 30, 2007
The US military will coordinate the movements of security firms in Iraq in agreement with the State Department, Pentagon officials said Tuesday as a new row flared over private bodyguards.

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