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Sunni Arabs increasingly against Zarqawi
Residents reported curious declarations hanging from mosque walls and market stalls recently in Ramadi, the Sunni Muslim insurgent stronghold west of Baghdad. The fliers said Iraqi militants had turned on and were killing foreign al-Qaeda fighters, their one-time allies.

A local tribal leader and Iraq's Defense Ministry have said followers of Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, have begun fleeing Anbar province and Ramadi, its capital, to cities and mountain ranges near the Iranian border.

“So far we have cleared 75 percent of the province and forced al-Qaeda terrorists to flee to nearby areas,” said Osama al-Jadaan, a leader of the Karabila tribe, which has thousands of members living along the border with Syria.

He claimed his people have captured hundreds of foreigner fighters and handed them to authorities. The drive, dubbed Operation Tribal Chivalry, is designed to secure the country's borders with Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia to prevent foreign fighters from crossing in.

After the U.S. invasion in March 2003, residents of the province – which also includes cities like Fallujah, Haditha and Qaim – became known for their violent anti-American sentiments. The province is still the most dangerous in Iraq for U.S. troops. In the past two days alone, two U.S. Marines were killed by hostile fire there.

Relations between residents and the foreign fighters started to sour, however, when the foreigners started killing Iraqis suspected of having links to the Americans or even for holding a government job.

The rift became an outright split four months ago, with a wave of assassinations and bombings that killed scores of Anbar residents. The attacks were blamed on al-Qaeda.

“We were fed up with the situation,” said one Ramadi resident, complaining about closed roads, unemployment and a lack of security. The resident spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared for his life.

In late November, tribal and religious leaders, former army officers and hundreds of ordinary Iraqis met in Ramadi with U.S. military commanders for a first-ever comprehensive dialogue on what could be done to speed a U.S. withdrawal.

Afterward, gunmen began killing some of those who had met with the Americans or who had urged Sunnis in the region to vote in the U.S.-backed parliamentary elections on Dec. 15. Several top clerics and a tribal leader were killed.

The deadliest attack – a suicide bombing Jan. 5 among a line of police recruits in Ramadi – killed at least 58, including U.S. troops.

Stunned city residents turned on al-Qaeda, and al-Jadaan, of the Karabila tribe, announced an agreement with the U.S.-backed Iraqi government to help with security.

The moves by al-Jadaan's men and Iraqi army units against al-Qaeda forced many of the foreign fighters to flee to central and eastern areas of Iraq – some to the mountains near Iran – that have large Sunni populations, al-Jadaan said.

That prompted tribes in the central city of Hawija, where some al-Qaeda fighters sought refuge, to issue a statement earlier this week openly declaring war on foreign al-Qaeda members.

The declaration was prompted by the killing a week ago of tribal leader Suhaib Abdullah al-Obeidi. Al-Qaeda also killed three Shiites – a father and his two sons – and a Communist Party boss.

“We are against the killing of civilians for sectarian or ethnic reasons. That's why we are shedding the blood of Muslim extremists, especially al-Qaeda,” said Abul-Rahman Mansheed, a top Sunni politician in Hawija.

Army Maj. Gen. Anwar Mohammed Amin, in the nearby city of Kirkuk, said the military soon would launch a major attack, with help from the local tribesmen, to clear that region of al-Qaeda as well.

Claims such as those issued by the tribesmen and local military officers are nearly impossible to confirm, but the considerable drop in suicide bombings throughout the country recently indicates operations by al-Qaeda foreigners have been hampered.

Al-Jadaan, the Anbar tribal leader, looked confidently to the future and – if his prediction comes true – what likely will be a hero's role in the eyes of the U.S. military.

“Under my leadership and that of our brothers in other tribes, we are getting close to the shelter of this terrorist,” al-Jadaan said of al-Zarqawi. “We will capture him soon.”
Posted by:Dan Darling

#5  to Iran, ya say? We should follow them with killing machines..
Posted by: Frank G   2006-03-10 20:35  

#4  Too late.
Posted by: gromgoru   2006-03-10 20:13  

#3  The drive, dubbed Operation Tribal Chivalry.. We are the Lions who say, "Ni!"

In late November, tribal and religious leaders, former army officers and hundreds of ordinary Iraqis met in Ramadi with U.S. military commanders for a first-ever comprehensive dialogue on what could be done to speed a U.S. withdrawal.

"Well, for starters, y'all could stop killing each other. The Sunni's could collapse the myth that they are the majority in Iraq. Understand that all of ya are Iraqi's. The differences among you are what make you rich in culture, and should make you rich in tolerance and understanding, are what add to your identity as Iraqi's, not subtract.

You could accept to consider that all people should be equal under the law - and in your hearts if you can stretch that far. That each and every one of you has equal access to the necessities and foundations of life. And you can accept to consider that you will have to protect these rights from others who would want to deny you - and fight for freedom and equality, not vengence.

You could get your government and security up and running and demonstrate that you will be just fine on your own. Safe, secure, free, equal and ready to grow.

Or just safe and secure, dammit. Then we can get our asses out of here a.s.a.p."
Posted by: Hupomoger Clans9827   2006-03-10 19:33  

#2  And in a few months he will have to face the brutal Iraqui winter.
Posted by: JFM   2006-03-10 18:13  

#1  Oh, dear. Will al Zarqawi find himself in the dreaded Iraqi quagmire?
Posted by: trailing wife   2006-03-10 13:19