Sunday, January 14, 2007

new Sunni Insurgency

From Ghaith Abdul-Ahad behind the Sunni sectarian lines (hat tip to Juan Cole for this one).

Cole's op-ed (read last post first if haven't already) talks about the necessity being a negotiation with the Sunni guerilla leaders. At this time I'm not sure they would deal, and more importantly I think the Shia realize they have the upper hand and want some blood. But it is the only hope that is for sure.

And this article from Ahad suggests there is an opening. The Sunni insurgents are less and less fighting Americans and focusing only on Shia. They will fight Americans if they are twinned with Iraqi Army--that doesn't sound good because the new plan requires Americans embedded with the Iraqi Army. So expect that number to go up.

There are elements within the Sunni insurgency who want to call off the jihad against the Americans and use them/us against the Shia, protect them from the Shia really. These Sunni leaders are questioning their alliance of convenience with the foreign Arab jihadi fighters (the al-Qaeda in Iraq)--which as Cole points out is a not full truth bc the Neo-Baath under Ibrahim Douri targeted Shia funerals, weddings, and markets themselves.

Abdul Ahad interviews a man named Abu Omar (since kidnapped and/or murdered)--a gun smuggler for the Sunnis.

From the article:

He told me that one of his main suppliers had been an interpreter working for the US army in Baghdad. "He had a deal with an American officer. We bought brand new AKs and ammunition from them." He claimed the American officer, whom he had never met but he believed was a captain serving at Baghdad airport, had even helped to divert a truckload of weapons as soon as it was driven over the border from Jordan. These days Rami gets most of his supplies from the new American-equipped Iraqi army. "We buy ammunition from officers in charge of warehouses, a small box of AK-47 bullets is $450 (£230). If the guy sells a thousand boxes he can become rich and leave the country." But as the security situation deteriorates, Rami finds it increasingly difficult to travel across Baghdad. "Now I have to pay a Shia taxi driver to bring the ammo to me. He gets $50 for each shipment."

So the Shia are not a unified force--even Iran continues it is claimed support for Sunni insurgents. Urban warfare is so brutal and without a political deal the Shia, better armed and organized will continue to take territory and the Sunni will be forced to continue car bombs, mortar raids, and firing on crowds

And a brilliant look at how the Sunnis are organizing their neighborhoods for defense:

Increasingly the Iraqi insurgency is moving away from its cellular structure and becoming organised according to neighbourhood. Local defence committees have intertwined into the insurgent movement. "Each group is in charge of a specific street," Abu Aisha said. "We have defence lines, trenches and booby traps. When the Americans arrive we let them go through, but if they show up with Iraqi troops, then it's a fight."...According to Rami and other commanders, funding for the insurgents comes from three sources. Each family in the street pays a levy, around $8, to the local group. "And when they go through lots of ammunition because of clashes," Rami said, "they pay an extra $5." Then there are donations from rich Sunni businessmen, financiers and wealthier insurgent groups. A third source of funding was "ghaniama", loot which is rapidly becoming the main fuel of the sectarian war.
The Sunnis made a major mistake early on not reading the hand writing on the wall and dealing with AQ and getting pulled into a sectarian fight--they simply don't have the numbers, equipment, and momentum. I'm not sure about reports of Saudis training Sunni insurgents--they have money and bodies no doubt but don't know that they have the expertise and strength nor the desire that the Iranians have in funding the Shia. The Americans really need to get the Saudis and Iranians down at the table. But Bush is too busy wanting to pick a fight with Iran and Syria to do that.


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