The big news today is al Qaeda in Iraq managed to get past security in the Green Zone and launch a successful suicide bomb attack in the cafeteria of the Iraqi Parliament (Arabic website). Two members of parliament were killed along with six others. This is clearly a media victory for al Qaeda. They prove to the Iraqi government that even with the Surge going on that al Qaeda in Iraq and its umbrella organization, the Islamic State of Iraq, is still a force to be reckoned with. It also reminds the rest of the world that the war still ongoing. This feeds war weariness in the West.
This week was suppose to be a great week for al Qaeda. An attack on the hearts of the Iraqi and Algerian governments was meant to signal a tide of Islamists' victories. However, al Qaeda's vicious actions have caused it to lose another key ally. The Islamic Army of Iraq, the largest Baathist terrorist group in Iraq, has denounced al Qaeda in Iraq and has pledged to fight al Qaeda. The Islamic Army of Iraq seeks to return Iraq to a Sunni Baathist dictatorship which rules over all other groups in the country. This is far different from al Qaeda's goal of a global Sunni Islamic state with little concern about Iraq itself. The Islamic Army of Iraq is also upset at al Qaeda's foreign soldiers murdering any Iraqi who opposes al Qaeda on any sort of level.
While in the last few months the media has been suggesting a possible civil war between Sunnis and Shia the situation has drastically changed.
The Shia militias are divided with some now cooperating with the Coalition and Iraqi government while other militias are leaderless and unable amass any significant resistance.
The real internal war is between the Sunnis. In Anbar province, members of the 1920s Revolutions Brigades, a shadowy group which uses non-conventional tactics and avoids attacking civilian targets, and Jaysh Mohammed, Sufi Baathists, united to form the Anbar Salvation Front. The purpose of the front is to drive al Qaeda out of Iraq. The Anbar Salvation Front is not an ally of the United States but is willing to cooperate the Iraqi government. Members of the front realize there can be a political future for the Sunnis in the new Iraq if they neutralize threats like al Qaeda. Sunni clerics have also begun denouncing al Qaeda. al Qaeda has responded by increasing attacks on Sunni civilians and engaging in chemical warfare.
The Islamic Army of Iraq has been pushed over the edge by attacks like this. While the Islamic Army still considers the United States an enemy and has no love for the Iraqi group, anything which can defeat al Qaeda is a good development. In the future the Islamic Army will expect some sort of reward. If they can be rewarded by entering the political process of a multi-ethnic democratic Iraq then the War on Terrorism would see a great victory.
The war in Afghanistan and Somalia have offered clues on how to defeat a fourth-generation (guerrilla) army. The might of the Coalition forces needs the support of local groups. Each day the Islamists lose more of the war with more groups like the Anbar Salvation Front and the Islamic Army of Iraq turning on them.