Wednesday, November 09, 2005

I have been waiting for this.

An article in the San Jose Mercury (registration required) documents that cracks are forming between the local Sunni insurgents and the Al Qaida religious fighters of Al Zarqawi. Things have degraded into open warfare in the streets. The latest source of friction seems to be money. It seems some insurgent groups have been charging local businesses "protection" money. Al Qaida is demanding that the money be handed over to them. The locals are refusing. It seems they want their towns back. This is starting to seem less like an insurgency and more like rival gangs fighting over turf. Al Zarqawi isn't making many friends with his foreigners in leadership positions calling shots that are killing a lot of Iraqis. A few sentences from the article:

Kamil Ahmed, a 40-year-old resident with long-standing ties to local insurgent groups, said the break started in the summer, when al-Qaida in Iraq started killing police who showed up for work, breaking an insurgent agreement to let the officers do their jobs.
The split intensified when the group assassinated several sheiks, in mosques, for criticizing its actions. Insurgent groups also went against al-Qaida in Iraq and urged citizens to vote in the constitutional referendum in October and in the upcoming December national elections. Al-Qaida in Iraq had characterized voting as cooperating with the Americans.

Ahmed said the final straw was about money. He said businesses and even some government offices around Ramadi had been paying local insurgents protection money, as much as $70,000 a month. Al-Qaida in Iraq demanded the money.

So it isn't going to be much longer, I don't think. You have the US Marines and Iraqi army cutting off the supply of new foreign cannon fodder at the border and local Sunni groups picking off the Al Qaida cells from within in addition to the regular attrition from various coalition operations. Zarqawi's operations should begin to fall apart fairly quickly. I am giving it until the end of the month.

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