U.S. State Department said on Wednesday that retired Marine Gen. John Allen, who is coordinating the international coalition efforts against the Islamic State, was en route to the region to engage Sunni tribal leaders in the fight.
The Washington Times, quoting unnamed sources, reports that the plan is to recreate the “Sunni Awakening” that saw Iraqi tribal leaders take the fight to Islamic State predecessor group, Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), between 2005 and 2007. Gen. Allen helped organize the Awakening uprising while serving in Anbar at the time.
Creating a new Awakening is essential to sustaining gains made by recent U.S.-led airstrikes. The effort will also involve building a provincial guard force in western Iraq that could enlist local residents, dominated by Sunni Arabs. (The Washington Times, 2 October)
Meanwhile on Syria, Gen. Allen told CNN that it will take years to train moderate Syrian rebel forces to fight effectively against the Islamic State.
“It is going to take a while. It could take years, actually… And so we have to manage our expectations,” Allan said on training Syrian rebels. (CNN/The Hill, 2 October)