Al Douri forms nationalist Sunni coalition; 1920s Revolution Brigades denounces al Qaeda


al-douri.jpg

Izzat Ibrahim al Douri during the Saddam era.

The Sunni insurgency continues to fracture as US and Iraqi forces are on the offensive in central and northern Iraq. Izzat Ibrahim al Douri, the most wanted Baathist and leader in the Sunni insurgency, has formed a new insurgent front that is willing to negotiate, while a faction of the 1920s Revolution Brigades openly denounced al Qaeda.

A grouping of 22 Sunni insurgent groups have "convened a Unification Congress in a liberated neighborhood in Baghdad" and formed the Supreme Command for Jihad and Liberation. The front appointed al Douri its leader. The announcement, posted on the Baathist website albasrah.net, lists the 22 insurgent groups, as well as the terms and conditions of negotiations.

The Command stated that for any negotiations to take place, the Americans must:

1. Officially recognize the patriotic Resistance and all the patriotic, Arab nationalist, and Islamist Resistance organizations in all their armed and civil organizations as the sole legitimate representative of Iraq and its great people.
2. Officially announce an unconditional withdrawal from Iraq - whether that be immediate or in short stages.
3. Halt raids, pursuits, killings, destruction, sabotage, dispossessions, and expulsions and withdraw the occupation troops from all population centers.
4. Free all prisoners and detainees without exception and compensate them for their losses.
5. Return to service the Iraqi Army and national security forces, which were declared dissolved by the Americans during their invasion in 2003. They are to be restored in keeping with the rules and traditions that were in force before the American invasion and they must also be compensated for their losses.
6. Pledge to compensate Iraq for all the material and moral losses and injuries caused the country by the occupation.
7. Cancel all laws, decrees, and other pieces of legislation issued after the occupation.
8. Hold direct talks with the Resistance on implementing a program to fulfill the principles adhered to by the Supreme Command if the Americans want to have save face. Otherwise the Americans will simply have to leave in defeat.

In addition the Command said that meetings must be held on the re-establishment of a government, adding that one-man rule was being done away with and replaced with system based on Islamic democratic principles as distinct from the imperialist democracy that is notorious for its practice of self-serving double standards.

The Sunni insurgent groups were listed as follows:

1. The Army of the Men of the Naqshbandiyah Order.
2. The Army of the Prophet's Companions.
3. The Army of the Murabiteen.
4. The Army of al-Hamzah.
5. The Army of the Message.
6. The Army of Ibn al-Walid.
7. The United Command of the Mujahideen (Iraq).
8. The Liberation Brigades.
9. The Army of al-Mustafa.
10. The Army of the Liberation of Iraq.
11. Squadrons of the Martyrs.
12. The Army of the Sabireen.
13. The Brigades of the Jihad in the Land of the Two Rivers.
14. The army of the Knight for the Liberation of the [Kurdish] Self-Rule Area.
15. Squadrons of the Jihad in al-Basrah.
16. Jihadist Squadrons of al-Fallujah.
17. The Patriotic Popular Front for the Liberation of Iraq.
18. The Squatrons of the Husayni Revolution of at-Taff.
19. Squadrons of the Liberation of the South.
20. Army of Haneen.
21. Squadrons of Diyala for Jihad and Liberation.
22. The Squadrons of Glory for the Liberation of Iraq.

While many of the demands are nonstarters for the US and the Iraqi government (setting a timeline for withdrawal, disbanding the government and institutions established after 2003), some of the conditions are being met piecemeal, such as ending raids in areas where the insurgency has stopped attacking US and Iraqi forces, the reintegration of Baathists into the security forces, and prisoner releases.

The statement by the Supreme Command for Jihad and Liberation glaringly ignores al Qaeda in Iraq, and the offer of negotiations is an affront to al Qaeda's ideology. Evidence of al Douri's split from al Qaeda emerged in August, when one of his spokesmen said he "decided to sever ties with al-Qaeda and sign up to the programme of the national resistance, which includes routing Islamist terrorists and opening up dialogue with the Baghdad government and foreign forces." Al Douri pledged bayat - an oath of allegiance - to Abu Musab al Zarqawi, al Qaeda in Iraq's former commander, in early 2004.

While questions remain about al Douri's influence in the insurgency, his split with al Qaeda and a willingness to negotiate represents a significant shift in his view on the prospects of the Sunni insurgency success. Al Douri is an expert in testing the political winds in Iraq. He survived Saddam's Baathist purges and rose in the ranks to become the second in command of the Revolutionary Command Council. He avoided US capture for over four years into the insurgency and joined al Qaeda in Iraq in 2004 as the terror group consolidated power in postwar Iraq.

The 1920s Revolution Brigades denounces al Qaeda in Iraq

1920%20Revolution%20Brigades.JPG

The 1920s Revolution Brigades.

The formation of the Supreme Command for Jihad and Liberation was announced one day after a faction of the 1920s Revolution Brigades denounced al Qaeda for terrorizing Sunnis. Evan Kohlmann reported on the statement by Hamas in Iraq, which was posted on the internet on October 2.

A breakaway Sunni insurgent faction from the 1920 Revolution Brigades known as "Hamas in Iraq" has issued a formal response to recent allegations by Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the leader of Al-Qaida's "Islamic State of Iraq." In an official communiqué dated October 2, Iraqi Hamas accused Al-Qaida of inflicting "great suffering" on ordinary Iraqi Sunnis: "every day they witnessed heads or headless bodies lying in their streets. Each one of these victims had been accused of a so-called 'crime' prohibited by Al-Qaida fatwahs... then [Al-Qaida] attacked Ameriyyat [al-Fallujah] with a car bomb packed with chlorine gas canisters, and they even laid siege to the area to prevent food and fuel from getting to people. Finally, they killed several men at the local market and smashed their heads against boxes of food... We [have] witnessed dozens of beheaded bodies and none of them were Americans. Rather, they were all local people from the area-people who, at one point, had supported the Al-Qaida network until they themselves had become disposable." In fact, according to Hamas in Iraq--as a result of the various crimes Al-Qaida has committed against innocent Muslim civilians--"the Al-Qaida network has actually made people here think that the occupation forces are merciful and humane by comparison."

The 1920s Revolution Brigades makes up a major faction of the Anbar Awakening and the forces fighting al Qaeda in Iraq in Diyala province. Al Qaeda launched over 10 chlorine-bomb attacks against leaders in the 1920s Revolution Brigades in Anbar province, and attacked mosques, apartment complexes, and funerals while its leaders were present.

The Islamic Army in Iraq and Al Zawraa, its propaganda wing, have feuded with al Qaeda in Iraq over its brutality and domination of the Sunni insurgency.


Please support The Long War Journal by donating to Public Multimedia Inc., our nonprofit media organization and publisher of The Long War Journal. All donations are 100 percent tax-deductible, and all donations will be used to support The Long War Journal.






Advertisement:


READER COMMENTS: "Al Douri forms nationalist Sunni coalition; 1920s Revolution Brigades denounces al Qaeda"

Posted by Neo at October 4, 2007 2:37 PM ET:

I contrast this statement by Al Douri with the local cooperation we are getting in many areas and can't help to think that the Nationalist elements are trying to regain face with the local population after closely cooperating with Al Qaeda. Earlier in the war, I remember the Fediyeen Saddam and many such groups being virtually synonymous with Al Qaeda.

I wonder how strong his influence really is among the locals. This could be a problem down the road if the nationalists regain influence. On the other hand if even the hard core nationalists are breaking with Al Qaeda that may make things that more difficult for Al Qaeda.

The political dynamics of the situation in Iraq do seem to be shifting right now. How well both we and the Iraqi government ride out these changes will determine a lot.

Posted by Andrew R. at October 4, 2007 3:48 PM ET:

The problem is teasing out what their demands mean. They could mean:

1) The Ba'ath insurgency is strong enough that they can still probably beat Iraqi Security Forces at least in Central Iraq once the U.S. is gone.

2) The Ba'ath insurgency believes that they can easily regain the country, but is delusional as to its true power

3) The Ba'ath insurgency has presented an opening set of demands that's ridiculously high so that they have plenty that they can drop as negotiations proceed.

Of course, what's maddening is that there's good evidence for all three. There are days that I really, really wish I still had access to a SCIF...

Posted by Don Bistrow at October 4, 2007 9:58 PM ET:

I would disagree that some of the conditions al Douri is demanding are being met unless you take little things here and there.

al Douri's demands as a total are a non-starter and will never be considered as rational. He has managed to survive and this is like the last desperate attempt of a murderous outlaw to seek glory and position.

A very careful analyis of the al Douri demands suggest a return to one man rule with possibly al Douri replacing Saddam Hussein.

Maybe joining his ghost at the gallows would be more appropriate.

Posted by Chandler at October 4, 2007 10:57 PM ET:

Abu Omar Al-Baghdadi has been shown as a local Iraqi actor and not a real person. Here is the article: www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2007-07-18-iraq-actor_N.htm

It seemed that Al-Qeada was having a problem getting the locals to committ to Jihad because the locals viewed Al-Qeada, and rightly so, and foreighners. Abu Ayyub Al-Masri is Egyptian.

Semper Fi,
Chandler

Posted by ajacksonian at October 5, 2007 7:20 AM ET:

So al-Douri joins up with AQI seeing a brand of killers he can try and exploit. AQI starts to lose and badly, getting kicked out of Anbar and being unable to stand up to the MNF, IA, ISF and IP. Local AQI financier gets caught. al-Douri announces his end of eternal fealty to Zarqawi, who has gone to eternity, and wants to have his thugs recognized as the rulers of Iraq.

Earth to al-Douri: Nice knowing you! Your day is coming to an end.


One does wonder about the tiest between HAMAS in Iraq and HAMAS proper, because if they are more than just name-brand recognition theft, then this is the first statement by the Muslim Brotherhood against al Qaeda. And *that* could be a huge change, if true. It would be the parent organization putting out it is getting ready to cut ties with its child... which could spark conflicts in unlikely places as these factional fights tend to do.

Posted by Turner at October 5, 2007 8:37 AM ET:

Regarding the question above about whether the Hamas in Iraq is associated with Hamas in Palestine, I don't know but I noted a similar link at the start of the war: Our local peace groups brought an Iraqi through who was handled by a peacenik out of Albuquerque named Kathryn Hughes-Fraitek. Ms. Fraitek was trying to set up a women's support network in support of the Palestinian Children's Welfare Fund (PCWF). While PCWF purported to be sending religious and other trinkets to children in Palestine, it had, in the past, listed various funds on it's web-site, that were later shut down for funding terrorism, terrorism against Jews in Palestine/Israel. At the time Fraitek brought the Iraqi through to raise money for Iraq, PCWF was listing a "Holy Land Fund" on it's website (sound familiar?) They also mentioned starting a "Holy Land Fund in Iraq" at the time. The PCWF was supposedly supported and partially organized by a woman who also had holy warrior websites glorifying suicide bombers in Palestine. Beneath the pleasant pictures on the front of their website, the PCWF had an art contest for Muslim children giving cash prizes for hate-cartoons about the Israelis, i.e. Jews. You really had to know your way around the links on the site to find the contest beneath the pleasant images on the front. Clearly at the start of the war, the terrorists and peaceniks in the "Palestinian" cause had an immediate fear of and interest in Iraq.


Whether Hammas in Gaza has direct ties or could survive direct ties without killing each other off is unknown, but cutting off Saddam, cut off a great supply of funds for Hammas in Palestine and there is no doubt this would draw their interest and attention.

Posted by Turner at October 5, 2007 8:53 AM ET:

Other thoughts on Hammas' interest in Iraq:

If you know Hammas in Palestine, you know the Shehaddeh family who is big in the leadership in Hammas. Or was. Many are dead now. For an extended period of month the US was trying to deport a member of the Shehaddeh family from the US under a ruling allowed by the Patriot Act. During that time Mr. Shehaddeh was active with peace groups against the Iraq war and was one of the speakers in the Washington D.C. demonstration against the war, along with Lynn Stewart (in 2006?).

It may just be a common opposition to the US and or expansion of democracy, but it does seem that Hammas would have an interest in Iraq worthy of sending or funding militants.

Posted by Turner at October 5, 2007 9:08 AM ET:

Al Douri is running scared.

Al Douri views himself as a master of deception. Remember the "about to die of cancer" rumors he spread in 2004? It seems only recently he reemerged. Now he's trying to create an imaginary difference between himself and the "outside, foriegn" members of Al Quada.

Given his appetite for violence and, probably, sadism, there's no doubt he and his thugs were deeply involved in killing thousands of innocent Iraqis over the past few years. Hopefully, the Iraqi people will seem him and his people for what they are: Saddam leftovers that hid under the wing of terrorists and sought their revenge on the Iraqi people for rejecting them.

Posted by Andrew R. at October 5, 2007 12:12 PM ET:

We shouldn't write al-Douri off so easily. He's so far managed to evade capture for five years, something that was beyond Hussein, Zarqawi, and a whole lot of the Ba'ath/al Qaeda support networks. The Ba'ath party was also very good at keeping the Iraqi people down--the 1991 shelling of Najaf, Karbala, and Basra was the exception rather than the rule. They were good at working in the shadows to initially take power and then to consolidate and hold it.


For the sake of Iraq's civilians fighting AQI is top priority right now, but this business started to remove the Ba'ath party from power and that is still one of the most important enemies to be dealt with.

Posted by Neo at October 5, 2007 1:13 PM ET:

We should remember that this is the second installment of Al Douri's conditions for cooperation & peace. The demands don't look a lot different than several months ago. He may have a certain amount of influence in north central Iraq but hasn't seemed to have much if any discernable impact on US/IA operations. When the local insurgents signed on with Al Qaeda they accepted outside command. Add to that Al Qaeda went to great trouble to replace all aspects of local control with their own command apparatus. Part of Al Douri's squabble with Al Qaeda is that they essentially destroyed his command structure within Iraq. Put that together with constant disruption be US forces and Al Douri may not have a great deal to work with on the ground at this time.

It doesn't appear that those disenchanted with Al Qaeda are reassembling under the Al Douri's nationalist banner right at this moment. Those that aren't cooperating with coalition forces seem to be laying low and waiting things out. If Al Douri wants to mount a cohesive resistance, he must revive his command structure and rouse up those that have pulled out of the fight. That doesn't seem to be happening right now, but needs to be watched closely. Dissatisfaction with security and power sharing arrangements could serve as a catalyst for future resistance and Al Douri could eventually benefit from it.

Somewhat ironically, Al Douri's earlier pronouncement may have encouraged even more local fighters to break ties with Al Qaeda and drop out of the fight. There's a lot of local fighters sitting around right now available to whomever can bring them in. If we can't, I'm afraid someone eventually will.

Posted by Bill Roggio at October 5, 2007 2:06 PM ET:

A,

There is no relation Iraqi HAMAS and Palestinian HAMAS. The 1920s split into two groups: HAMAS and Hezbollah, which also shares no relation to the Iranian/Lebanese brand.

Don,

There have been great strides towards reconciliation at the local level. Former insurgents are becoming part of the security forces, etc. Al Douri's outrageous demands can never be met, but some already are at some level.

Posted by ajacksonian at October 6, 2007 11:33 AM ET:

My thanks! I wasn't aware of structural links between the organizations of the same name... too bad the islamic radicals can't follow the lead of the Red types that were getting to name like the Radical Interior Decorator's Union or some such in Germany. At least it was possible to tell just how 'fringe' a group was by its name, this taking of the same name and saying 'in thus and such' muddies the water no end.

I will have to flip through the old BNL/BCCI notes to see what sort of connections come up via the families involved with the US CCC and the various crony intermediaries that served as funding conduits for Saddam then. See how the familial trade groups and front companies worked and such... I doubt that any of the individuals involved then are still at work.

Posted by Texas Gal at October 6, 2007 5:57 PM ET:

Thanks for the post Bill, very interesting. I really doubt that al Douri believes there would be any such negotiation so this strikes me as kind of a public relations campaign. On one hand to make sure all the Sunnis know he's not associated with the AQI who has been murdering them and on the other hand promoting an alternative to the Sunnis hoping they'll bite into his hope to return them to power before the Americans can completely flip them.

But this one:



5. Return to service the Iraqi Army and national security forces, which were declared dissolved by the Americans during their invasion in 2003. They are to be restored in keeping with the rules and traditions that were in force before the American invasion and they must also be compensated for their losses.

Is an interesting demand to me since I've often been on the side of arguing for the official disbanment. What do you make of that Bill?

Posted by ALLONS at October 6, 2007 6:20 PM ET:

Sorry folks.

The way I look at Izzat Ibrahim al Douri. Kill him and let Allah or God figure it out.


ALLONS

Posted by Neo at October 6, 2007 8:46 PM ET:

Allons,

I don't think that there ever were any reservations about killing Al Douri. The only thing that stands in our way is the Syrian boarder. The discussion was more about what Al Douri is up to and whether he has any real power to play his game. I think Al Douri is on the sidelines right now trying to deal himself in. Just my opinion though.

Posted by Tim at October 12, 2007 12:27 AM ET:

CHARLIE ROSE: Are these insurgents pretty smart?

DAVID KILCULLEN: Very much so.

CHARLIE ROSE: Very much so. How come they got so smart?

DAVID KILCULLEN: It's evolution. You know, we kill the stupid ones.

If you think about what has happened to the average Iraqi insurgent group since 2003, some of them had a personnel turnover in excess of 1,500 percent, right?
http://www.iht.com/bin/print.php?id=7807571

Posted by Micah at October 23, 2007 2:42 PM ET:

Why is the Naqshandiyah order on the list of insurgent groups??? THis umbrella group is highly pro-baathist and the Naqshandiyah are Sufi. I thought the Sufi minorities hated the Baathists?