A ray of sunshine on an otherwise dark day. I posted about the two groups’ marital problems on Friday; they went public with their difficulties today but it sounds like it might be more of a trial separation than a divorce.

An Iraqi militant group has highlighted the split in the ranks of the Iraqi insurgency by having its spokesman give a television interview in which he accuses al-Qaida and its umbrella organization of killing its members and pursuing the wrong policies…

“We don’t recognize (the Islamic State of Iraq). It is void. There is no state under crusader occupation. There is resistance,” al-Shimmari said…

Al-Shimmari’s comments provoked a series of postings on Islamic Web sites by militant sympathizers, who said they were saddened by the split.

He said the Islamic Army used to be very close to al-Qaida in Iraq, but the two groups had increasingly diverged since al-Qaida leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed in a U.S. airstrike last June…

He seemed eager to indicate that the division was not irreconcilable. He said the Islamic Army had refrained from turning its guns on al-Qaida.

The Islamic State of Iraq is the pan-jihadi Sunni emirate declared by AQ to which various other insurgent groups have pledged allegiance. As for the bit at the end, that may simply be IAI’s way of dangling hope for a new alliance to dissuade AQ and its cronies from attacking them. Roggio thinks the split is real and seems to suggest that the group will now be joining the Sunni “awakening” or counterinsurgency, although honestly, at this point I’m starting to wonder just how significant the awakening is. How can a coalition of indigenous Sunni tribesmen and insurgents, many of whom are veterans of Saddam’s army and many more of whom are by now seasoned guerrilla warriors, have such trouble routing a group of foreign fighters like AQ operating on their home turf? I know there are parts of the Sunni population that support them, but the point of the awakening is that that population is, supposedly, dwindling by the minute. Unless AQ is receiving reinforcements faster than the Sunnis can kill them, I have to question just how much of the population has “awakened” and how much simply doesn’t care which gang is in charge so long as someone is.

On the other hand, don’t kid yourself — to the extent that it’s happening at all, the awakening is possible only because U.S. troops are still there. If we pull out, it’s Sunnis versus Shia with the former sufficiently outnumbered by the latter that they won’t have the luxury of purging the foreigners in their midst unless the Saudis come in and supply some manpower for them. They’ll need all the guns they can get, even if those guns come from AQ. That point was and presumably is still completely lost on Murtha, who thinks the surest way to defeat Al Qaeda is for us to leave. The surest way not to defeat them is for us to leave, unless, like I say, he’s expecting the Saudis to jump in and turn it into a full-scale Islamic fundamentalist proxy war with Iran. Which, if you’re an Iraqi in the middle, would be just super.