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A report from insurgent leaders:
Insurgents report a split with Al Qaeda in Iraq
BAGHDAD — Insurgent leaders and Sunni Arab politicians say divisions between insurgent groups and Al Qaeda in Iraq have widened and have led to combat in some areas of the country, a schism that U.S. officials hope to exploit.
The Sunni Arab insurgent leaders said they disagreed with the leadership of Al Qaeda in Iraq over tactics, including attacks on civilians, as well as over command of the movement.
U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, on his last day in Iraq, said Monday that American officials were actively pursuing negotiations with the Sunni factions in an effort to further isolate Al Qaeda.
"Iraqis are uniting against Al Qaeda," Khalilzad said. "Coalition commanders have been able to engage some insurgents to explore ways to collaborate in fighting the terrorists."
Insurgent leaders from two of the prominent groups fighting U.S. troops said the divisions between their forces and Al Qaeda were serious. They have led to skirmishes in Al Anbar province, in western Iraq, and have stopped short of combat in Diyala, east of Baghdad, they said in interviews with the Los Angeles Times.
Al Qaeda in Iraq, which has taken responsibility for many of the most brutal attacks on civilians here, is made up primarily of foreign fighters. Although it shares a name with Osama bin Laden's group, it is unclear how much the two coordinate their activities.
The General Command of the Iraqi Armed Forces, a small Baath Party insurgent faction, told the Los Angeles Times it had split with Al Qaeda in Iraq in September, after the assassination of two of its members in Al Anbar.
"Al Qaeda killed two of our best members, the Gen. Mohammed and Gen. Saab, in Ramadi, so we took revenge and now we fight Al Qaeda," said the group's spokesman, who called himself Abu Marwan.
In Diyala, the 1920 Revolution Brigade, a coalition of Islamists and former Baath Party military officers, is on the verge of cutting ties with Al Qaeda.
"In the past, we agreed in terms of the goal of resisting the occupation and expelling the occupation. We have some disagreements with Qaeda, especially about targeting civilians, places of worship, state civilian institutions and services," said a fighter with the brigade who identified himself with a nom de guerre, Haj Mahmoud abu Bakr.
"Now we reached a dead end and we disavow what Qaeda is doing. But until now, we haven't thought about fighting with them," he added. "We are counseling them, and in case they continue, we will cut off the aid and the logistical and intelligence support."
And a personal view from Dave Kilcullen, Senior Counterinsurgency Advisor, Multi-National Force -- Iraq
Think about that for a moment. If insurgents are the fish, and the community is the sea in which they swim, then AQI just showed an incredible level of desperation – attacking its own potential constituents, applying a uniquely repellent form of attack, and emulating Saddam on the anniversary of one of his worst atrocities, into the bargain. What were they thinking?And here's Omar, a citizen of Baghdad and co-author of Iraq the Model:
Or consider another recent attack, where extremists bombed a Sunni moderate mosque because its Imam dared to suggest that maybe it’s time to stop fighting, that there is an honorable path of resistance through political participation and the ballot box rather than pointless violence. Many Sunnis were killed – again, extremists targeting moderates for fear that they are about to lose the influence conferred by intimidation.
Both of these attacks were political “own goals” for the terrorists - the mask is slipping, and people are seeing the real face beneath.
Overall, the security operation continues to gain more support among the political parties, including some that were skeptical in the beginning out of fear the operation would not be impartial. Today a spokesman of the Accord Front, to which VP Hashimi and deputy PM Zobaie belong, affirmed the AF’s support for the ongoing operation saying, “Our bloc, seeing the security forces covering Baghdad’s districts and operating without discrimination, is now convinced that the operation is unbiased.”Finally, from a young soldier deployed with the second of five "surge" brigades
On the other hand extremist parties of both sects continue their criticism of the operation, in stupid and somewhat amusing ways. One case I found funny is related to the recent discovery of a large weapon cache that included 470 anti-tank land-mines in Jameela district near Sadr city. The discovery of the stash was reported by MNF-I website, as well as Qasim Ata the official spokesman of Baghdad operations.
Neither report accused a specific entity of being responsible for possessing the cache, but then I saw the Sadrist lawmakers (I mean lawbreakers) on TV gather reporters to tell them that the whole story about finding weapons is a lie!
It was a textbook example of how denying involvement in a crime can only make people believe that you are indeed responsible.
BAGHDAD -- Before heading to war last month, Cpl. Jon Dorsey hid 20 books in equipment that he was charged with shipping to Iraq.
Along with titles on quantum physics, he sent General Patton's memoirs, Plato's "The Republic," and Kerouac's "On the Road."
The young soldier from Strong's Prairie, Wis., calls himself a student of history and takes a broad view of his mission as the war enters its fifth year. For him, and a handful of others in this battalion called the Black Lions, it's about shaping the future and spreading US ideals.
Dorsey says he believes success in Iraq is still attainable if the Army is given enough time and money to regain the trust of average Iraqis and enable the country's security forces to stand on their own. He says many back home were losing the big picture by focusing on the daily violence.
"American soldiers gained their country's independence and we put an end to slavery, fascism, and dictatorships all around the globe. I do not buy into 'we can't stop this and we can't stop that,' " says Dorsey, a freckled redhead from a township in the heart of Wisconsin with barely 70 inhabitants. He joined the Army after high school because he felt college would be just too limiting and, he says, downright boring.
"The only thing that can stop us are people back home. People who decide they have had enough and it's not worth fighting anymore," he says.