More Red-on-Red

“We have had enough of his nonsense. We don’t accept that a non-Iraqi should try to enforce his control over Iraqis, regardless of their sect — whether Sunnis, Shiites, Arabs or Kurds.”

– Sheik Ahmad Khanjar, leader of the Sunni Albu Ali clan, referring to Abu Musab al Zarqawi

Red-on-red incidents between al Qaeda and Sunni insurgents are nothing new in Anbar province. We saw numerous instances of this when al Qaeda attempted to impose its will on the Sunnis in Qaim along the Syrian border. However the Washington Post provides a new twist to the internecine warfare between the foreign jihadis and local Sunni fighters. Sunnis have taken up arms against al Qaeda to protect their Shiite neighbors [hat tip Rantburg]. In Ramadi.

Rising up against insurgent leader Abu Musab Zarqawi, Iraqi Sunni Muslims in Ramadi fought with grenade launchers and automatic weapons Saturday to defend their Shiite neighbors against a bid to drive them from the western city, Sunni leaders and Shiite residents said. The fighting came as the U.S. military announced the deaths of six American soldiers.

Dozens of Sunni members of the Dulaimi tribe stablished cordons around Shiite homes, and Sunni men battled followers of Zarqawi, a Jordanian, for an hour Saturday morning [note – Omar states this is Iraq’s largest tribe]. The clashes killed five of Zarqawi’s guerrillas and two tribal fighters, residents and hospital workers said. Zarqawi loyalists pulled out of two contested neighborhoods in pickup trucks stripped of license plates, witnesses said [note – to put it more plainly, al Qaeda had to run away!].

The leaders of four of Iraq’s Sunni tribes had rallied their fighters in response to warnings posted in mosques by followers of Zarqawi. The postings ordered Ramadi’s roughly 3,000 Shiites to leave the city of more than 200,000 in the area called the Sunni Triangle. The order to leave within 48 hours came in retaliation for alleged expulsions by Shiite militias of Sunnis living in predominantly Shiite southern Iraq.

“We have had enough of his nonsense,” said Sheik Ahmad Khanjar, leader of the Albu Ali clan, referring to Zarqawi. “We don’t accept that a non-Iraqi should try to enforce his control over Iraqis, regardless of their sect — whether Sunnis, Shiites, Arabs or Kurds.”

Zarqawi is in a bind. His plan to foment civil war between Sunnis and Shiites is now being opposed by his Sunni “allies”. Sunni tribes are tiring of his violence against fellow Iraqis, even against non-Sunnis. Al Qaeda must stop the election to ratify the constitution to further deny the Iraqi government legitimacy. Sunni clerics are beginning to encourage their followers to vote. Zarqawi responds by using the only tools he understands – threats, intimidation, violence.

Zarqawi’s movement posted statements in Ramadi pledging to kill Sunni clerics in the west for urging Sunnis to take part in the country’s next elections.

“We, al Qaeda in Iraq, announce that we will apply the religious punishment for apostasy upon whoever calls for creation of the constitution. You, preacher at the podium of prophecy, be a speaker of truth, doer of good and rallier for the rule of sharia,” or Islamic law, the statement said.

In the eyes of al Qaeda, all who oppose them are infidel, even their natural allies such as Sunni preachers in Iraq who oppose the US presence. This will ultimately be Zarqawi and al Qaeda’s undoing, provided the West can muster the political will to continue the fight.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

17 Comments

  • JohnM says:

    This could be good news. But the Coalition needs to capitalize on it. The Shiites in the South need to know that at least some tribal Sunni are with them. It helps breakdown the baseline that the terrorists use to operate from.

  • leaddog2 says:

    John M.
    You are corrct in the fact that this would be good news for ALL Shites in Iraq!
    I do not read or speak Arabic. Does anyone know if any of the multitude of new media outlets in Iraq are reporting this? There are over 100 newspapers, journals, newsletters, etc. in Baghdad alone, but is this being featured or not? It should be! Sunni tribes protecting Shites is a very, very, very significant development.

  • leaddog2 says:

    typo…. correct

  • Justin Capone says:

    If not much changes I suspect we can maintain some level of support for this war for about another year. What absolutely must be done is they must find a way to greatly limit the daily mass killings of US troops by IEDs. If not here is what I suspect will happen when it comes to US support for the war.
    If the Iraqis manage to draft a Constitution that the Sunnis, Shia, and Kurds agree on in the next two weeks and we get it ratified in October and have the Saddam trial and the final election in November the support for the war will go up to the mid to high 40s (or in absolute best case low 50s).
    After that there will be no big media events to boost support for the war of unless we kill or capture of Zarqawi or Bin Laden. And, given it takes almost nothing to plant an IED or to blow up oneself I can’t see the level of violence the media can play up or the US body count decreasing significantly for some time to come. Thus, by mid-next year I suspect the war will be in the same or a bit lower position it is now ratings wise. And, by late next year support for the war could be in the high 20s.
    It may be a good idea sometime late next year when there is enough Iraqi troops to move the vast majority of our forces onto our bases in Iraq so that we can train Iraqi troops and continue to build their army for years to come with a much much smaller loss of American life. If US soldiers aren’t dying on a daily basis the US media will forget about Iraq. Iraq is going to take a long time to stabilize and American support for helping the Iraqis is the center of gravity for the effort so such steps might be prudent.

  • Cutler says:

    Bill, I tried to trackback you from here, but was unable due to some sort of error.
    So I’m dropping the link in comments, let me know if that’s cool or not.

  • moradali says:

    Bill, did you know that the color you have chosen for links is so close to black, that most of your links do not show and are missed by the reader?
    Note my links are not underlined.

  • kazemi says:

    There is no question that if the US plays its cards right, it can drive a wedge between the Salafis and local Islamofascists, vs. the tribes, seculars, and moderate Islamists and nationalists.
    I wonder if the troops on the ground are in position to provide military support to the good guys?
    Regarding IEDs the most potent killer weapon, the US should take some old Soviet shells and replace the fuse so that when somebody attempts to open the shell and rig it to a trigger to construct an IED, it would blow up in place. Then take these shells and distribute them to the terrorists – free of charge.

  • bnelson44 says:

    Did you see this article? Why would a high ranking al-qaeda leader be wearing a suicide belt?
    From the Age:
    A lieutenant of al-Qaeda terror boss Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has been killed by Iraqi security forces in Mosul, the US military said.
    Mohammed Salah Sultan, also known as Abu Zubair, was killed on Friday, the US statement said.
    The statement said Abu Zubair was a “known member of al-Qaeda in Iraq” and an al-Zarqawi lieutenant who was sought for his role in a July suicide bombing of a police station in Mosul in which five Iraqi police were killed.
    Abu Zubair was wearing a suicide pack with explosives when he was killed, the US statement said.
    “He was also suspected of resourcing and facilitating suicide bomber attacks against coalition, Iraqi security forces and Iraqi citizens throughout the country,” the statement said.
    The statement said that last week, US and Iraqi forces captured three bomb makers and six foreign fighters as well as finding and clearing 101 improvised explosive devices in the Mosul area.

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    IMHO Haditha represented Zarqawi’s last safe haven in Al Anbar province. The effort to wipe out a Shia neighborhood in Ramadi was an effort to find a new home without further alienating the Sunni tribes. The message is clear…Al Anbar no longer welcomes him. The message is similar in Ninewa province.
    A press release last week from Multi National Security Transition Command put the price of firing a single mortar shell into the Green Zone at $500. The cost of “hired guns” seems to be getting prohibitive.
    //www.mnstci.iraq.centcom.mil/docs/press/082005/09AUGIraqiPolicecatchIZbomber.mht
    The recent uptick in violence in the Sallahadin province is an effort by Zarqawi and his pals to rebase either in Sammarra or Beiji.

  • kazemi says:

    bneelson44 – “why would high ranking terrorists wear a suicide belt”?
    This is a well known tactic employed by the Islamofascists to motivate and brainwash young impressionable Islamic recruits. They want to appear as a leader that is willing to blow himself up, and enhance their standing with the recruits.
    About 3 months ago, the US captured 2 of these leaders at their hideout while they were wearing suicide belts, but they did not attempt to self-destruct. Obviously they are for show and it is questionable if these vests even work.

  • stehpinkeln says:

    I don’t think it matters. As long as Syria and Iran are supporting Z-cow, the guerrilla war will continue. It will be more difficult for Z-cow to operate without Sunni support, but far from impossible. As long as the criminal gangs are willing to take the money they are paid to smuggle arms and hide the kill teams, Al Qaeda will be able to continue their campaign in Iraq.
    As far as the polls here in the states, they don’t matter. President Bush CANNOT stand for re-election, and is unimpeachable so the US troops wil stay in Iraq until President Bush decides otherwise. Period. It doesn’t matter if the polls show only 2% support for the War against terror. The USA Does NOT have a Parlimentary type government. The Liberals had their chance last November and they blew it. Now if the Battle of Iraq is still going on with no signs of progress in the summer of ’08 (as it will be unless Iran and Syria get a dose of regime change), that might make a difference. But then again it might not. The Republican party owes President Bush more then President Bush owes the Republican party. President Bush has long coat tails.
    As usual the left is misreading the polls, or at least the conclusions they are drawing are way out of line with what the red states are thinking. President Bush is losing support in the Red States not because he is still in Iraq, but because he hasn’t dealt with Iran yet. Next Month will be critical. September of 2005 will be as epoch making as September of 1914 was.
    September will give us the collapse of the UN, a blood bath in Gaza and a the defacto realization that the E3 will stand aside as Iran goes nuclear.
    Why pull out of Iraq? So far in the war on terror, the USA has taken more casualties in New York then in Iraq. So why not pull out of New York?

  • Rosemary says:

    This is great news. I am only sad it did not come sooner. Well, better late than never, eh?

  • Little Mike says:

    “…President Bush is losing support in the Red States not because he is still in Iraq, but because he hasn’t dealt with Iran yet…” LOL – You nailed it – all of us out here want a draft so we can have a second war (and why not take on N Korea too! we can even draft grandpa). And there are always those pesky French – we can take their wine. So what if we’re going to bankrupt the country. If we’re going to have an economic collapse, why not speed it up and do it this year?
    Hey Stehp – let us know what planet you’re on.

  • Mike H. says:

    Little Mike your name is appropriate. You can take your self-centered body back to the mirror, there won’t be a draft for you. The military found out about non-hackers like you in the 60’s and 70’s. Believe me they wouldn’t want you so relax.

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