March 15, 2006

Iraq's Non-Sectarian "Sectarian" War - New Development

Hatched by Sachi

Yesterday Dafydd talked about the number of young military age men's bodies found in Iraq. Many of them had been toutured and killed execution style. Dafydd suggested this could be a result of vigilantism by Iraqis against the foreign terrorists and their Iraqi allies in Musab Zarqawi's al-Qaed In Mesopotamia group.

The captured Death List of Al Qaeda (hat tip to commenter Jim from California) and an announcement from Sunni Insurgents might shed some light on this issue. First, the "Death List":

Coalition forces in Iraq are believed to have captured some very sensitive al Qaeda documents. Apparently, one of these is a "Death List," giving the names of prominent Iraqis of all factions whom al Qaeda believes opposes its efforts to establish an Islamist state in the country. Perhaps not surprisingly, many of the names on the list are of Sunni tribal and religious leaders who have been less than enthusiastic in their support for al Qaeda. Sadly, a number of those on the list have already been slain.

Probably not coincidentally, given that Iraqis are likely to know who is on al-Qaeda's "hit" parade even without having to see documents, Sunni insurgents -- Iraqis still fighting against Americans and until recently allied with Zarqawi -- announced yesterday that they killed a number of foreign terrorists in the Anbar province.

"We have killed a number of the Arabs including Saudis, Egyptians, Syrians, Kuwaitis and Jordanians," London Daily Telegraph quoted an insurgent representative in the western province of Anbar as saying.

We have heard about the developing gulf between Zarqawi's Al-Qaeda-in-Irag and Sunni Insurgents for quite some time. But what I did not know was that Sunni Insurgetns formed a special group to combat Al Qaeda.

It became an outright split when a wave of bombings killed scores of people in Anbar resulting in a spate of tit-for-tat killings.

In reaction, the Sunni tribal leaders formed their own anti-al Qaeda militia, the Anbar Revolutionaries. The group has a core membership of about 100 people, all of whom had relatives killed by al Qaeda. It is led by Ahmed Ftaikhan, a former Saddam-era military intelligence officer, the Telegraph reported.

The group claims to have killed 20 foreign fighters and 33 Iraqi sympathizers. The United States has confirmed that six of Zarqawi's deputies were killed in the city of Ramadi in the province.

The Associated Press reported yesterday that an Anbar-based group has claimed it killed five top members of al Qaeda and associated groups in Ramadi.

The claim was posted on an Islamist Web site and attributed to the Anbar Revenge Brigade, the AP reported.

It listed the names of four suspected al Qaeda leaders. The fifth man, it said, was from Ansar al-Sunnah, a terrorist group affiliated with al Qaeda.

(Tip of the hat to Bill Roggio at the Fourth Rail.)

So it is possible that at least some of the bodies found could be of terrorists killed by Sunnis -- either Sunni insurgents or Sunni patriots (which groups may have a large intesection). The "sectarian" war we thought we were witnessing may not be what it seems.

As for the Shiite militia attacking Sunni citizens, there has been an amazing new development: the Iraqi Defense and Interior ministries announced yesterday that from now on, anti-terrorist raids will be conducted with the Iraqi Army and the police operating together:

Yesterday, the Iraqi Defense and Interior ministries said they have reached an agreement requiring them to conduct all raids jointly, in a bid to stop the operations of death squads masquerading as police commandos.

Interior Minister Bayan Jabr, who controls Iraqi police, is a Shi'ite. Defense Minister Saadoun al-Dulaimi is a Sunni Muslim.

This should prevent overly "enthusiastic" Iraqi police from abusing, kidnapping, and even killing Sunnis, as many Sunnis believe, with good reason, has been happening. They trust the Army much more that the police for several reasons:

  • The Iraqi Army was directly trained by the Americans, while we are only just now starting to train the police.
  • The Army is run by a Sunni Iraqi; while the police are under the Interior Ministry, which is run by Bayan Jabr of the United Iraqi Alliance, who is closely allied with the Muqtada Sadr-supported Interim Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari.
  • The Iraqi police have been heavily infiltated by Iranian-supported Shiite militias in some areas (notably in Basra and in the Sadr City slum section of Baghdad)... particularly by Muqtada Sadr's al-Mahdi militia; the police are also corrupt and incompetent; and many police stations are simply tribal strike forces, who actually launch attacks on other Iraqi police stations controlled by "enemy tribes."

Joint raids between police and Army would greatly reassure nervous Sunnis, many of whom were just as opposed to Saddam Hussein as were Shia and Kurds... but who have been lumped together with the Tikrit tribe as "Saddamists" by the ruling Shia and often treated as incipient terrorists solely because they are Sunnis and secular, rather than being Shia who want to follow sharia law.

And have we already forgotten that "Death List" from the beginning of this post? It's hard to dismiss the idea that the real reason Shiite "men in black" abuse the Sunnis is that so many Sunni tribal leaders are secularists who oppose "efforts to establish an Islamist state in the country" -- whether a Wahabbist state established by al-Qaeda, or an Iranian-style mullahcracy imposed by radical Shia.

Let us hope that this new policy succeeds.

Hatched by Sachi on this day, March 15, 2006, at the time of 5:08 PM

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The following hissed in response by: Davod

I would question the veracity of any statements coming from the Minister of the Interior. The minister gets rid of Army staff at a time when he and the Interior Ministry is under investigation for salting the police force with Shiite militia and for supporting the death squads and torture rooms.

The above hissed in response by: Davod [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 16, 2006 6:37 AM

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