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News: Neutral location established to advance reconciliation in Taji

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Neutral location established to advance reconciliation in Taji Staff Sgt. Shejal Pulivarti

A local tribal leader, left, Col. Paul E. Funk II, center, commander, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division and an Iraqi government representative converse on the accomplishments and goals for reconciliation at the grand opening of the Sheiks Conference Center near Taji, Iraq, Oct. 18.

By Spc. Shejal Pulivarti
1st BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs

CAMP TAJI, Iraq – The Sheiks Conference Center's grand opening took place Oct. 18 near Taji, Iraq. Sheiks of all tribes, Iraqi police, Iraqi army, representatives of the Iraqi government, Iraqi security volunteers as well as 1st "Ironhorse" Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division troops gathered at the center with a common goal – reconciliation.

"The gathering is immense," said Lt. Col. Kevin MacWatters, commander, 1st Squadron 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st BCT, 1st Cav. Div. "It's another step toward progress."

During the grand opening ceremony, the Sunni and Shia sheiks greeted each other, sat together, conversed and feasted collectively, many for the first time ever, symbolizing the unity in their desires.

"The location provides a headquarters for all tribes and security forces to work together for the people of Taji," said MacWatters, a Mustang, Okla., native.

Prior to acquiring this neutral location, the meetings were held at other various locations. The conference center is between both Sunni and Shia tribes' locales allowing a consistent place where everyone can be comfortable during reconciliation meetings.

The assembly consisted of key members speaking about their goals and recognition of the advancement the center represents.

"We have to continue to be optimistic and continue to work together," MacWatters told the assembled sheiks at the grand opening ceremony.

Prior to reconciliation efforts, the Ironhorse Brigade's main focus during their deployment was security; however, as a result of the recent unions, security has improved in the brigade's area of operations—mainly thanks to the joint efforts of the Iraqi people, local Iraqi government officials, tribal leaders, Ironhorse troops, Iraqi security volunteers and Iraqi security forces.

Reconciliation efforts will allow the Ironhorse Brigade to spend their last few months in country with a shift in focus from mainly a security role to being able to focus more on helping Iraqis with essential services, rebuilding and assisting local Iraqi governments.

The conference center, in essence, is a monument to all that has been accomplished and a preface to establishing a safe, stable and secure environment, MacWatters said.


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Public Domain Mark
This work, Neutral location established to advance reconciliation in Taji, by SSG Shejal Pulivarti, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.

Date Taken:10.21.2007

Date Posted:10.22.2007 11:12

Location:TAJI, IQGlobe

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  • Sunni and Shia tribal sheiks from the Iraqi villages of Aqar Qaf, Bassam, Salamiyat and Fira Shia moved closer to reconciliation July 16 here during a meeting facilitated by the 1st Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment.
  • Sunni and Shia tribal sheiks, local government leaders, senior Iraqi army officials and local Iraqi police officials from throughout the Taji area, met Dec. 6 at the prayer town hall to continue reconciliation efforts and celebrate the "awakening"—a term used to describe a turning away from sectarianism and violence.
  • U.S. Forces assigned to Camp Taji Theater Internment Facility Reconciliation Center relinquished control of detainees and its facility to the Iraqi government, March 15.
  • Twenty-two Iraqi men pledged to their sheiks and family members they would abide by the laws of Iraq at a reconciliation ceremony held at Joint Security Station Doura, March 27. The men had been detained in coalition forces detention centers for various criminal acts and were released after the ceremony.

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