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As violence drops, Iraqi tribes begin to make amends

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This push has been enabled by improved security and a dramatic fall in violent attacks over the past year due to several factors: the US military surge, the decision by Sunni militants to join the US in fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), and a stand down of the Mahdi Army, the main anti-American Shiite militia.

"When we start this tribal reconciliation, it should be the seed of reconciliation for all of Iraq," says Taiee, who began his efforts five months ago. "The Shiite and the Sunni people, each one stole the rights of the others, and now must solve that in a peaceful way. They should return to their senses; they found that killing is not a good way."

That dynamic has been noted far beyond Iraq's mixed areas, where sectarian killings surged after the bombing of the Shiite Askari shrine in Samarra in February 2006. Shiite militia death squads rampaged through mixed Baghdad neighborhoods, forcing out and killing Sunnis.

Likewise, Sunni militants imposed a reign of terror in rural areas and urban districts where they had the advantage, forcing Shiites completely from areas like Hamoud's family farm in Tarmiyeh, north of Baghdad. Sheikhs from Tarmiyeh have compiled a list of 190 Shiites killed from that one district.

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