WEEK 16 – 4 Mar 07: The agreement between Al Qaeda and the Sunni tribes starts to unravel on the western edge of Baghdad as the terrorists look down upon the lack of brutality from their partners.
The Devil in Disguise
“You fooled me with your kisses, You cheated and you schemed
Heaven knows how you lied to me, You’re not the way you seemed”
– Elvis Presley
Having their regime ousted, the Sunnis made a quick alliance of convenience with Al Qaeda with the pretense that Sunnis and Iraqis could always rid themselves of Al Qaeda when they were ready. We have seen rifts in the Sunni – Al Qaeda alliance since 2004 but the two never seemed to part their ways. The Samarra Mosque bombing in February 2006 was Al Qaeda’s high water mark as they instigated a civil war: a civil war the Sunnis are losing.
Despite numerous successful car bombs within Sadr City and Rusafa markets, outside an Adhamiyah college campus and a scattering across New Baghdad over the past few months, Al Qaeda’s heyday may be coming to an end. The Sunni – Al Qaeda rift has gone public. The fight is raging in the information environment and on the streets.
In addition to condemnation from Vice President Tariq Hashimi and Council of Representatives (CoR) Speaker Mahmoud Mashhadani, the owner of the insurgency satellite television station Al Zawra and exiled CoR member, Mishaan Jubouri, has stopped broadcasting Al Qaeda propaganda. Furthermore, Mr. Jubouri, who has lost his CoR amnesty status and is wanted by Interpol, made an appearance on his station to denounce Al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq as being bad for Iraq and the Iraqi people.
The terrorists true colors have come to light as their attacks have killed many innocent Sunnis. In addition, media reports of recent events have revealed the true intolerant, inflexible, inhuman nature of Al Qaeda. Car bombs kill forty outside a Sunni mosque in Habbinyah. Eight killed in fighting between tribes and Al Qaeda in Fallujah. Car bomb kills twelve in Ramadi. Seven Sunni women and children killed with a bomb in Haditha.
This is quite a negative drumbeat for Al Qaeda to have in what is supposedly the heart of the insurgency and Sunni triangle. While their attempts to exploit an alleged rape may actually draw a few more fighters, the rest of the Iraqis likely see the killing of twelve to eighteen Shia policemen as just another Al Qaeda ploy to justify their wanton actions. They would have kidnapped and killed the policemen regardless of any rape allegation.
It is now apparent to the Sunnis that Al Qaeda kills anyone who doesn’t act the way Al Qaeda wants them to act. All of these killings were barbaric and obscene as many were executed in front of their families or destroyed on their way to and from prayer or work. Al Qaeda and others like Al Qaeda are a liability to Sunni self destiny and the Sunnis must now fight their former ally for their own freedom.
We, Coalition Forces and the Iraqi Security Forces, should be prepared to offer our assistance to the Sunnis in erasing Al Qaeda from Iraq. We will use the opportunity to build community inroads with the local Sunni leaders to show them that Coalition Forces are even-handed. The Iraqi Security Forces should represent the Government of Iraq in the same light. Sunni and Shia leaders from the GoI should be pushed to the forefront as leading action in improving the Sunni standard of living.
When we are all finished destroying Al Qaeda, however, we do not return to business as usual. The Sunnis can no longer play ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ card. They must lay down their weapons and come to the reconciliation table. For those who choose not to reconcile, it must be clear. You are an enemy of the Republic of Iraq and the Coalition Forces. If you choose to fight, you will lose.