Insurgent Alliance Is Fraying In Fallujah
Insurgent Alliance Is Fraying In Fallujah (WaPo, A01)
Local insurgents in the city of Fallujah are turning against the foreign fighters who have been their allies in the rebellion that has held the U.S. military at bay in parts of Iraq’s Sunni Muslim heartland, according to Fallujah residents, insurgent leaders and Iraqi and U.S. officials. Relations are deteriorating as local fighters negotiate to avoid a U.S.-led military offensive against Fallujah, while foreign fighters press to attack Americans and their Iraqi supporters. The disputes have spilled over into harsh words and sporadic violence, with Fallujans killing at least five foreign Arabs in recent weeks, according to witnesses. “If the Arabs will not leave willingly, we will make them leave by force,” said Jamal Adnan, a taxi driver who left his house in Fallujah’s Shurta neighborhood a month ago after the house next door was bombed by U.S. aircraft targeting foreign insurgents.
Located 35 miles west of Baghdad in Iraq’s Sunni Triangle, Fallujah has been outside the control of Iraqi authorities and U.S. military forces since April, when a siege by U.S. Marines was lifted and Iraqi security forces were given responsibility for the city’s security. Local and foreign insurgents gradually gained control, and Iraqi and U.S. officials say Fallujah has become a principal source of instability in the country.
U.S. and Iraqi authorities together have insisted that if Fallujah is to avoid an all-out assault aimed at regaining control of the city, foreign fighters must be ejected. Several local leaders of the insurgency say they, too, want to expel the foreigners, whom they scorn as terrorists. They heap particular contempt on Abu Musab Zarqawi, the Jordanian whose Monotheism and Jihad group has asserted responsibility for many of the deadliest attacks across Iraq, including videotaped beheadings. “He is mentally deranged, has distorted the image of the resistance and defamed it. I believe his end is near,” Abu Abdalla Dulaimy, military commander of the First Army of Mohammad, said.
Residents said the overwhelming majority of Fallujah’s people also have been repulsed by the atrocities that Zarqawi and other extremists have made commonplace in Iraq. The foreign militants are thought to produce the car bombs that now explode around Iraq several times a day, and Zarqawi’s organization has asserted responsibility for the slayings of several Westerners, some of which were shown in videos posted on the Internet.
Great news. There has been a steady stream of good news in Iraq over the last couple of weeks, even though it’s still interspersed with car bombings, kidnappings, and beheadings. If the terrorists are turning the locals against the insurgency, though, their acts are signs of desperation rather than evidence that we’re losing.