The 2005 Iraqi Sunni Awakening: The Role of the Desert Protectors Program

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Published on 10/1/2015
Digital Only

Dr. Knarr tells the story of Al Sahawa, the Awakening, in Iraq from a different perspective than most narratives. Many associate the beginning of the movement with Sheikh Sattar Albu-Risha's 14 September 2006 proclamation in Ramadi, where he coined the term Al Sahawa. However, Dr. Knarr contends that the Anbar Awakening, as a movement, started  12 months prior to the Sheikh's proclamation. As a movement, the Awakening began in the northwest of Al Anbar, in Al Qaim District along the Syrian/Iraqi border with the Albu-Mahal tribe. The Albu-Mahal, in what would become a fight for survival, realized that they could not fight Al Qaida in Iraq (AQI) on their own and pleaded for help from the Coalition and the Government of Iraq. The foundation for developing that partnership was a little known program called the "Desert Protectors." The development of the Desert Protectors has tremendous lessons for today as a newly formed Coalition organizes to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant(ISIL), an outgrowth of AQI.