A turning point in Iraq?

The Guardian notes that tribal leaders in Western Iraq are turning on al-Qaeda:

The clashes erupted after a new grouping calling itself the Anbar Rescue Council – which claims to represent a large number of Anbar tribes and sub-clans – said it intended to clear the province of the terrorist group. It also follows a meeting between tribal leaders and the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, last week in which they asked for government support and arms in their fight against al-Qaida.

The tribes’ courtship by Iraq’s prime minister has been oiled by cash gifts and alleged salaries to some sheikhs of up to $5,000 (£2,650) a month. Tribal fighters have also asked for weapons.

Al-Qaeda bought influence in Iraq using cold hard cash, and now it looks as if that money is running out.  The Iraqi government, by contrast, does have the cash to buy political support.  And I’d imagine that, once they finally start ramping up oil production levels, they’ll have onging reserves to cement their control of the country.

Although, if this pattern continues, it does seem likely that Iraq will return to the patriarchal pattern so beloved of countries across the Middle East.