Iraqis are increasingly saying that they regard Al Qaeda as a foreign-led force, whose extreme religious goals and desires for sectarian war against Iraq's Shiite majority override Iraqi tribal and nationalist traditions.
While American and Iraqi officials have talked of a split for months, detailed accounts of clashes were provided by men claiming to be local insurgents ...
According to an American and an Iraqi intelligence official, as well as Iraqi insurgents, clashes between Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia and Iraqi insurgent groups like the Islamic Army and Muhammad's Army have broken out in Ramadi, Husayba, Yusifiya, Dhuluiya and Karmah. In town after town, Iraqis and Americans say, local Iraqi insurgents and tribal groups have begun trying to expel Al Qaeda's fighters, and, in some cases, kill them. [I]n most Sunni cities, Iraqis defied Al Qaeda's threats and turned out to vote in large numbers on Dec. 15. "The tribes are fed up with Al Qaeda and they will not tolerate any more," said a senior Iraqi intelligence official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The intelligence official confirmed reports that a Sunni tribe in Samarra had tried and executed Qaeda members for their role in assassinating a local sheik. "It was a beautiful mistake," the intelligence official said of the sheik's assassination by Al Qaeda. "Now the tribes will kill Al Qaeda. Now they have the courage." "It is against my beliefs to put my hand with the Americans," said an Iraqi member of the Islamic Army who uses the nom de guerre Abu Omar. Still, he said in an interview in a house in Baghdad, he allowed himself a small celebration whenever a member of Al Qaeda fell to an American bullet. "I feel happy when the Americans kill them," he said.
The story told by the two Iraqi guerrillas cut to the heart of the war that Iraqi and American officials now believe is raging inside the Iraqi insurgency. In October, the two insurgents said in interviews, a group of local fighters from the Islamic Army gathered for an open-air meeting on a street corner in Taji, a city north of Baghdad. Across from the Iraqis stood the men from Al Qaeda, mostly Arabs from outside Iraq. Some of them wore suicide belts. The men from the Islamic Army accused the Qaeda fighters of murdering their comrades. “Al Qaeda killed two people from our group,” said an Islamic Army fighter who uses the nom de guerre Abu Lil and who claimed that he attended the meeting. “They repeatedly kill our people.” The encounter ended angrily. A few days later, the insurgents said, Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia and the Islamic Army fought a bloody battle on the outskirts of town. The battle, which the insurgents said was fought on Oct. 23, was one of several clashes between Al Qaeda and local Iraqi guerrilla groups that have broken out in recent months across the Sunni Triangle. American and Iraqi officials believe that the conflicts present them with one of the biggest opportunities since the insurgency burst upon Iraq nearly three years ago. They have begun talking with local insurgents, hoping to enlist them to cooperate against Al Qaeda, said Western diplomats, Iraqi officials and an insurgent leader.
RAMADI, Iraq — Qassan Ashar Ali, 24, and his brother Omar made their way past three checkpoints, two bomb-sniffing dogs and an X-ray truck and became the first recruits to enter the glass factory in Ramadi after last week's bombing. A few months ago, Ali saw masked gunmen shoot his cousin — a former police officer — four times in the head. Despite the assault, Ali wanted to follow in his footsteps. "I want to try to secure my city," he said. Behind them were at least 225 young Sunni men, many carrying sport bags with clean clothes, toiletries and pictures of loved ones for their trip to the police academy in Baghdad. "We've been scared for a long time," Ali said. "We've had enough." U.S. commanders hope the turnout of people such as Ali signifies a watershed moment in Ramadi, the provincial capital of Al Anbar, which is among the most brittle of cities in Iraq. "The Iraqi army is important, but it's the police that will be responsible for the rule of law," said Maj. Robert Rice of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force, who oversees the Iraqi police program in Al Anbar. "They're the foundation to be able to fight a counterinsurgency." Commanders here say they garnered support for the recruitment drive through weeks of meetings with clerics and sheiks, some of them with ties to local rebels. Americans hope to drive a wedge between local rebels and radical Islamist elements of the insurgency — in part by recruiting locals to police the city. The focus on the Iraqi police is part of a countrywide priority shift for the Americans, who have long worked on building the Iraqi army. Political and military leaders have dubbed 2006 the Year of the Police. At the same time, the U.S. military has launched a strategy to combat bombings. Last week, Operation Green Trident was launched 25 miles south of Fallouja, involving hundreds of coalition and Iraqi soldiers. The sweep netted about 11 tons of munitions from 72 sites, mostly shallow holes along the banks of the Euphrates. The military also is using bomb-sniffing dogs, high-altitude spy drones and citizen tips to curtail bombings. Coalition forces anticipate more attacks like those at the factory gates as progress is made toward establishing a permanent Iraqi government. "Increased attacks across Iraq this past week clearly indicate Al Qaeda and other terrorists still have the capability to surge," coalition spokesman Brig. Gen. Don Alston told reporters Thursday in Baghdad. "As democracy advances in the form of elections … and government formation and military pressure continues, we expect more violence across Iraq." The Bush administration has said it wants to have working Iraqi security forces before considering a drawdown of American troops. And that, commanders say, is the incentive they offered local leaders. "We basically have a common vision: We certainly don't want coalition forces in their city forever," said Army Col. John L. Gronski, commander of the 28th Infantry's Second Brigade Combat Team, based in Ramadi. "They want their city to return to normal. They understand the more they fight the coalition forces, the longer we're going to stay." Withdrawal moved to the top of the agenda shortly after Brig. Gen. James L. Williams, assistant commander of the 2nd Marine Division, and Al Anbar Gov. Mamoun Sami Alwani persuaded key leaders to enter into a dialogue, said Col. Miles Burdine, commander of the governance support team. "It gave us an opportunity to say, 'If you can convince the sons of Al Anbar to join Iraqi police and the Iraqi army … we will leave,' " Burdine said. The first meeting to discuss withdrawal conditions, which drew 200 Sunnis from Ramadi, sparked the formation of Al Anbar Security Council, which has since met weekly with U.S. commanders. As Sunnis have shown more willingness to engage and participate in elections, U.S. commanders have shown more readiness to meet with rebels or those connected to the local insurgency, commanders said. "We have more of an open mind than we may have had in the past," said Gronski, who assumed control of the area in July. "Right now it seems promising, and we're ready to trust the local leaders." But, he added, "we're still out there engaging the [radicals] with bombs and with bullets."
And while good men and women put their lives on the line and sacrafice in order to create a free Iraq and partner in our fight against terrorism, sad sacks like John Murtha (who seems to be the only leadership voice in the Democrat party regarding the war in Iraq) has this to say:
I think the political people who give advice will say to him (Bush), ‘You don’t want a Democratic Congress. You want to keep a Republican majority, and the only way you’re going to keep it is by reducing substantially the troops in Iraq,’” Murtha said.
You'll excuse us for laughing in the face of such advice, Mr. Mogadishu. It's nothing more than wishful thinking on his part. One could almost forgive him for his misplaced confidence if he based it on the results of polling like this:
First, only 81% of respondents were even eligible to vote, and there's no indication of how many of them actually went to the polls in 2004..
1. Party Leanings - The poll is slanted 52-40% towards Democrats, even though the voters in the 2004 election were split evenly at 37% between Republicans and Democrats.
2. Religion - Next, a whopping 19% of respondents had "no" religion, while in 2004 only 10% of voters had "no" religion, and they voted overwhelmingly for Kerry (+36%).
3. Age of Respondents In this poll 31% of the respondents were between 18-34, even though the 18-29 year olds (a slightly smaller demo) only made up 17% of the electorate in the 2004 election. I think it's pretty safe to say that by including 30-34 year olds that number would still not have come close to the IPSOS sample.
4. Income Level of Respondents - This one is amazing. In this poll 15% of respondents made under $15,000 per year. In 2004, only 8% of voters were in this income bracket, and voted 63-36% for Kerry.
5. Marital Status - In this poll, only 56% of respondents are married. In 2004, 63% of voters were married, and voted 57-42% for Bush.
6. Geography - In this poll, only 17% of respondents were from "rural" areas. In 2004, 25% of voters were from rural areas, and voted 57-42% for Bush.
7. Race - In this poll, there were 71% white respondents and 12% Hispanic respondents. In 2004, 77% of voters were white, and only 8% Hispanic. Bush won the white vote 58-41% and Kerry the Hispanic vote 53-44%.
Here's a poll Mr. Murtha may or may not be aware of and one that should give him pause as it is an example of what can be accomplished in a country where brutal oppression existed where a legitimate government should have been.
A new opinion poll in Afghanistan is very revealing:
83% of Afghans say their country is moving in the right direction.
81% of Afghans view the US favorably, with 83% approving of US troop presence in-country.
Meanwhile 88% have an unfavorable view of the Taliban,
82% think overthrowing them was a good thing,
and (drum roll) 90% view Osama bin Laden unfavorably,
with 75% of that total being "very unfavorable."
In Iraq we are on the verge of attaining the cooperation of the last hold-outs of the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein. They are coming to the realization that we are there to improve the lives of all Iraqis. Iraqis as a whole are now working toward a future that they will determine just as their neighbors in Afghanistan have been doing. The Afghanis have had a head-start as they were liberated from the Taliban before Operation Iraqi Freedom began. Iraq just became a constiutional democracy while Afghanistan has had a constitution and democratically elected President for over a year. There are about the same number of people in each country. Each is composed of Shia and Sunni muslims. Afghanistan does not have the natural resources that Iraq does, which means that as Iraq's economy comes fully online, it will boom. Polling in Iraq 1 year from now should be similar OR BETTER than what we are seeing in Afghanistan right now. The Democrats know this. That's why they are solely focused on "withdrawal". Can't have "the appearance of victory". That is why they are sad.