Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Insurrectionary devices

Pointing out the absurdity of reducing resistance movements in Iraq to Al Qaeda, I listed some of the known movements operating in Iraq a while ago. Abu Aardvark links to a new report on the media statements of Sunni insurgents in Iraq. Below is a chart comparing statements made by different groups with claims of responsibility for various attacks and their targets, for the month of March this year:



It isn't supposed to be comprehensive, but it does indicate the relative capacity, aggressiveness and tendencies of different groups. As one would anticipate, the Islamic State in Iraq, which is generally referred to as 'Al Qaeda' (although in fact only one group within this collection claims to be connected to 'Al Qaeda', and there isn't much evidence of any material links to Zawahiri and bin Laden), claims responsibility for a minority of attacks. It is among those Islamist groups that targets Shi'ites (under the rubric of attacking their militias), but the preponderance of its attacks were directed against the US military and its Iraqi auxiliaries in that month. And, at any rate, on its own account it did a great deal more talking than fighting. Far more significant Sunni forces are groups like the Mujahidin Army, which claimed 132 anti-US attacks that month, and 4 on their Iraq compadres. And the sectarian salafist group, Ansar al Sunna, is more significant still - but it doesn't have the brand recognition. The mystery about the 1920 Revolution Brigades, an Iraqi nationalist guerilla movement, is that they are known to be highly active, yet rarely issue statements or claim credit for attacks. The only statement they issued recently was to deny claims made in the Washington Post that they were working for the United States military.

It goes without saying that the stenographers of power, especially the embedded reporters and the big wire services, accept the language of the occupiers and thus end up producing utterly incoherent reports. Take this, for example. In it we are treated to the phrase "anti-Iraqi forces", and the assertion that these are 'al Qaeda', and that they are trying to gain control of Anbar. It's one of a wave of similar stories indicating a 'turn' on the part of Sunni Iraqis, who have had enough the tactics of that organisation and are thus turning toward the US:

Anbar was once the heart of the Sunni Arab insurgency and the most dangerous region for American soldiers in Iraq.

But local Sunni Arab tribes began to turn against Sunni Islamist al Qaeda last year, angered by the militant group's indiscriminate killing of civilians and harsh interpretation of Islam in the areas it held sway.

Many al Qaeda militants have since been driven out of Anbar and into provinces north of Baghdad.


A reporter would have to forget, or set aside, everything he or she knew about this situation in order to produce a report like that. Not only is it reasonably well known that the 'tribal strategy' of the US is collapsing around its ears, but only in the masturbatory fantasies of General David Petraeus could it be entertained that Anbar is no longer the heart of the Sunni insurgency, and no longer a dangerous place for American soldiers to be. And aside from the above illustration, there is the small matter of the main Sunni bloc that decided to participate in the government withdrawing, with one politician pledging to become part of the resistance. In other words, while support for the resistance among Sunnis remains solid in every poll, and while the US hasn't even taken most of Baghdad yet, or Baqubah, much less the whole of Anbar or Diyala, the political establishment is fracturing. The Sadrists have withdrawn participation from the parliament, taking six ministers from the cabinet and at least 29 representatives from the Council of Representatives. They, alongside the Iraqi Accord Front, reduce the number of representatives in the institution from 275 to 190. The SIIC, Dawa and their Kurdish allies are thus trying to form a new pro-US government without these groups. The fabric of the occupation regime is gradually coming to pieces, and its opponents include much bigger fish than the risible 'Islamic State of Iraq'.