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
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 communiquÃ© 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.