Jihadis, Elections and Ramadi

Bill Roggio has an interesting report from Ramadi:

As Election Day quickly approaches in Iraq, the various jihadi factions and the non-jihadist insurgents are taking their varied positions on how to deal with the voting process. The domestic insurgents, foreign fighters and jihadist do not have a unified position on how to deal with the electoral process, and their official statements reflects this.

al-Qaeda and allied Salafist jihadi groups, according to the SITE Institute, “vow to continue jihad, separate themselves from any group or person who enters into negotiations with the Iraqi government and its supporters, and states that involvement in the “political operation” is prohibited by Islamic law.”

Ansar Al Sunnah says the Islamic world has a choice between jihad and democracy, and those who participate in democracy are a “partner in the guilt” and are “losers.” They do not threaten to conduct attacks during the election, nor are they asking for their members to silence their guns.

Islamic Army in Iraq has ordered its adherents to refrain from attacking polling places. And Baathist insurgents are encouraging Sunnis to vote and vow to defend the polling centers from attacks by Zarqawi’s terrorists. This is a far cry from the bold threats made just under a year ago.

In Ramadi, Mizhar al-Dulaimi, a prominent Sunni and the leader of the Free Progressive Iraqi Party, has been murdered while campaigning in the heart of the city. Three of his bodyguards were wounded.

[…]

The parliementary elections are a positive development for the future of democracy in Iraq and for further splits between the native insurgents and the jihadists, but are not a panacea to the problems in Ramadi. At some point the leaders and residents of the city must chose to reject the insurgency or suffer the fate of Fallujah and Tal Afar.

Certainly true. A strong turnout at the polls in the face of terrorist threats and pressure from religious leaders would seem to be a strong step in that direction, though.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Jem says:

    One wonders whether the murder of al-Dulaimi (from the name, it seems he was a member of a very powerful clan) may have some profound effects on the viability of certain portions of the “insurgency”. On the other hand, it may be that the matter is more about inter-clan conflict than sectarian or government vs. anti-government violence.