At least two major insurgent groups are battling al-Qaida in provinces outside Baghdad, American military commanders said Friday, an indication of a deepening rift between Sunni guerrilla groups in Iraq.
U.S. officers say a growing number of Sunni tribes are turning against al-Qaida, repelled by the terror group's sheer brutality and austere religious extremism. The tribes are competing with al-Qaida for influence and control over diminishing territory in the face of U.S. assaults, the officers say. The influx of Sunni fighters to areas outside the capital in advance of the security crackdown in Baghdad may have further unsettled the region.
"This is a big turning point," U.S. Maj. David Baker said Friday in the Diyala provincial capital of Baqouba. "If they are fighting against each other, it's better than them fighting against us."
Even Sunnis who want to cooperate with the Shiite-led government are becoming more emboldened to speak out against al-Qaida. In Anbar province, more than 200 Sunni sheiks have decided to form a political party to oppose the terror group, participants said Friday.
The clashes have erupted over the last two to three months, pitting al-Qaida in Iraq against the nationalist 1920 Revolution Brigades in Diyala and Salahuddin provinces north of Baghdad as well as Anbar to the west, U.S. officers said. In Diyala, another hard-line militant Sunni group, the Ansar al-Sunna Army, is also fighting al-Qaida, they said.
"It's happening daily," Lt. Col. Keith Gogas said Thursday in an interview at an Army base in Muqdadiyah, 60 miles northeast of Baghdad. "Our read on it is that that the more moderate, if you will, Sunni insurgents, are finding that their goals and al-Qaida's goals are at odds."
American commanders cite al-Qaida's severe brand of Islam, which is so extreme that in Baqouba, al-Qaida has warned street vendors not to place tomatoes beside cucumbers because the vegetables are different genders, Col. David Sutherland said.
That is also why the Taliban, most likely, will never again succeed in Afghanistan. If it is possible, it's extreme fanaticism. Imagine an ideology or religion which assigns gender to vegetables because of their shape. More importantly, imagine one that wants to reach that deeply into controlling your everyday life.
AQ will eventually burn out in Iraq as more and more Iraqi groups turn against it and eventually exterminate the Iraqi arm. AQ is making a name for itself in Iraq, and it is not a good one ... and frankly, in the long run, that is good news.
Too easy. Cucumbers are obviously male...didn’t ya take Freudian Psychology in college? And tomatoes...well, you gotta go back to the Damon Runyan days to find that a tomato was a broad...a doll...a dame...a skirt...a woman. So, tomatoes are female, and it’s okay for you to like them.