YWT: "Not a significant development, but it's notable."
JIM CLANCY: In Iraq, there are many powerful forces -- religious, ethnic and tribal. Their influence and importance cannot be overlooked. Observers are pointing to an announcement by more than two dozen tribes who say that they're uniting against al-Qaeda and other insurgents in their country. Let's get some more on this development.
Michael Ware joins us now live from Baghdad.
Michael, how significant is all of this?
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, this is one of the key planks to the American success here and exit strategy, is finding elements within Iraqi society to empower and allow them to create the state that would at least be neutral to, if not aligned with the United States. The tribes are one of them.
What we saw today is an announcement by 20 sub-tribes in al-Anbar province around Ramadi. This is not a significant development, but it's notable. We had seen this ongoing for the last 18 months to two years. Even during the days of Fallujah -- where al-Qaeda and the insurgency controlled the city before the Marine invasion, November 2004, there was a lot of factional fighting between al-Qaeda, the local tribes and the local insurgency. They're not a happy family.
American forces in Ramadi have been trying to empower some of these sub-tribes. Limited success, but certainly not overall success. This announcement today is just a reflection of that, as is today's suicide bombing on the Hariya police station, just like the bombing on the Jazeera police station two or three weeks ago. This is a direct attack on these sub-tribes who are attempting to help the Americans in Ramadi -- Jim.
CLANCY: All right, they're attempting to help the Americans. They've been asking for arms from the Iraqi government, from the Americans, whoever. What kind of risks do these tribal leaders take? And are they getting mixed signals in return?
WARE: Well, what we saw is back in January, for example, many of the local tribes and many of the local insurgent groups urged their youth to join the police force as a hedge against what they say as pro-Iranian power in Baghdad. Zarqawi's al-Qaeda opposed this move, so sent in a chest-vest suicide bomber to the recruitment day, killing dozens. And then there was a wave of assassinations of seven tribal sheikhs.
We've seen a similar cycle recently, because of, again, renewed police recruitment in Ramadi. So the risks are great, but they're getting mixed signals from Americans. American commanders on the ground attempt to empower these tribes in Ramadi, yet in Baghdad they see America installing a pro-Iranian government as they see it. So they're saying, well, we have no choice. On the ground, you're doing one thing, but in Baghdad you do another; you're herding us toward al-Qaeda -- Jim.
CLANCY: Michael, very quickly, what role -- the Baathists, we don't hear about them. What role do they have right now then?
WARE: This is a parallel track, Jim, with the tribes. When we talk about the tribes, often we're talking about the Baathists. American military intelligence has been in secret negotiations with the Baathists for 18 months on this very point, trying to drive a wedge between them and al-Qaeda, just like they're trying to do with the tribes. There's similar lack of success, in that the Baathists are now saying, you've left us very little choice, and there also gravitating toward al-Qaeda -- Jim.
CLANCY: All right, Michael Ware, talking to us there live from Baghdad. As always, Michael, thank you.