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Bad guys vs. worse guys
Posted by: Billy Hollis on Friday, June 01, 2007

Monty Python fans will recall the scene in Life of Brian where rival "liberation" groups fight and kill each other while bemused Romans look on. It sounds like we have some of that currently going on in Baghdad:
It is the first time open warfare has erupted in the streets of Baghdad as a result of growing tensions between al Qaeda and other Sunni insurgent groups in western Anbar province, the main stronghold of Sunni insurgents.
It's unfortunate for the residents, of course. I'm sure some innocent bystanders are being caught up in it. But the main fighting seems to be motivated by conflict between the leaders of the two sides.
Militants from the al Qaeda-led Islamic State in Iraq and the Islamic Army of Iraq, which is mainly driven by ex-army officers and supporters of the Baath party of executed former president Saddam Hussein, are fighting for control of Amiriya.


A former resident close to al Qaeda militants in the area said the trouble started five days ago when a group of al Qaeda militants went to the home of a local Islamic Army leader.

Finding he was not there, they planted explosives and destroyed his home. Angry Islamic Army members then went to a mosque and killed the local al Qaeda leader, he said.
The article gets rather confusing from there. There is some brief attempt at backgrounding, which ends up concluding with some information about Anbar:
Some Sunni tribal leaders opposed to al Qaeda's ruthlessness and adherence to a hardline form of Sunni Islam have formed the Anbar Salvation Council, a move welcomed by the U.S military which six months ago had given up the province as lost.
I guess it's not too far off the subject for that to be in the article, though I never heard anything from our military about a province given up as lost. But I would like to think the reporter could have given us more context on the subject of the article, which was focused on the Baghdad internecine conflict.

I'm sure it's a challenge to write these articles. Balancing current events with historical context is hard. But I can't say this particular reporter did a very good job. I'd like to hear more about the bad guys fighting each other. Commenters are encouraged to note other articles on this subject.
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The most senior US marine commander in Iraq has been forced to downplay a secret intelligence report which asserted that the United States had "lost" Anbar province, the main heartland of Sunni resistance to the American occupation.

The report, parts of which were leaked to the US media at the weekend, painted a dramatic picture of a collapse in US military control. But, without denying the accuracy of the leaks, Major General Richard Zilmer sought on Tuesday to minimise the damage. "The classified assessment was intended to focus on the causes of the insurgency. It was not intended to address the positive effects coalition and Iraqi forces have achieved over the past years," he said. But he acknowledged that "progress" in Anbar was "much more challenging" than elsewhere in Iraq.

The report was written by Colonel Pete Devlin, the marine corps’ chief of intelligence, and is the most negative assessment by a senior US officer so far.

Written By: AMR
URL: http://
Nice ... a story written in Sep. 2006. That’s current.
Written By: McQ
I think AMR was responding to my assertion that I hadn’t heard anything about a "lost province". I suspect that’s exactly the story the Post reporter was relying on when he included that phrase. (AMR, for clarity, I recommend using a blockquote of the part of the post you’re responding to.)

It still smacks of trying to include the worst they can think of in a story. I stand by my criticism of the story - it didn’t do a very good job of providing context or of giving us a detailed account of the incident. It would be nice it the reporter did at least one of those two well.
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
I suggest something called Abu Aardvark. Link is here:

I’m on a foreign computer and can’t link, but he’s been covering this angle for a long time. It’s not a new angle, just a new outbreak of fighting. The umbrella group in question is the "Reform and Jihad Front", or at least that’s how Marc translates it. Go to that site and search for that term. They’re a response to the IAI’s declaration of an Islamic state in Iraq last year.
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
I see he still has some background on these guys a ways down the main page, as well.
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://

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