Red on red mania: Sunni insurgents kill two Al Qaeda capos in Baghdad; Update: Dire assessment at Powerline

Well, who knows. Assuming it’s true it sounds like it happened within the past few weeks or months, which adds some background to last week’s AQ car-bomb assassination of one of the leaders of the 1920 Revolution Brigades. Roggio thinks the 1920 Brigades might themselves be splitting into pro- and anti-AQ wings. That would make sense given the news about members of the al-Zubaie clan warring with each other, culminating in an assassination attempt on Iraqi deputy PM Salam al-Zubaie by one of his own relatives. The Times provides a possible motive:

Some senior Sunni insurgents believe that Al-Qaeda in Iraq shares the agenda of Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias to plunge the country into ever more violent sectarian conflict rather than concentrating on the fight against the US-led coalition.

Late last year Salam al-Zubaie, Iraq’s deputy prime minister, began secret talks with the Sunni groups with the aim of coaxing them away from Al-Qaeda. He held meetings with commanders of groups including the 20th Revolutionary Brigade, the general command of the Iraqi armed forces, the Islamic Army of Iraq, the Ba’ath party and the Salah al-Deen al-Ayyubi Brigade…

A senior commander in the Islamic Army said Zubaie had promised not only to help to unify the Sunni groups but also to provide them with financial and logistical support to stop Iranian infiltration.

The insurgents demanded assurances from the government that they would not be arrested or attacked by the security forces. They also asked for promises that they could eventually join the security forces.

There was one sticking point. “We insisted that our fight with the occupying forces would continue as they are to blame for our current situation,” the Islamic Army commander claimed.

So it’s not all good news, needless to say. In fact, I’m not even sure al-Zubaie chatting with them about focusing on “Iranian infiltration” is unmitigated good news given what that might mean. Maybe it’s a reference to Revolutionary Guard operatives inside Iraq, maybe it’s a Sunni politician giving them veiled approval to start bumping off Sadrist/Shiite government ministers. Hopefully not the latter given the evident distaste some Sunni insurgents have for AQ and its mania for sectarian warfare. That’s the best news to take out of all this.

Speaking of which, read this piece from Newsweek about U.S. troops on foot patrol in Adhamiya, the heart of the insurgency in Baghdad. Says one of the MiTT advisors attached to Charlie Company:

“It’s night and day compared to before,” he says of the Iraqi Army this time around. “They’re still not up to our standards, but it makes you feel a little bit better about getting out of here on time.” The Iraqi Police are a different matter. “The IPs, they’re all militias,” he says. “You can keep them all. But the Army is all right.”

A Sunni intel officer with the IA unit that’s working with Charlie Company says that within three of the four battalions, 60-70% of the members are militiamen.

Update: Following on the Newsweek link, an exceedingly grim take in an unlikely online spot. I wonder what, if anything, Roggio will have to say about it. A taste:

The Iraqi government and security forces are so thoroughly infiltrated by the Shia militias that you could say that the militias are the government and you would not be far off. Iraqi police in Southern Iraq are not in the fight against the militias at all. Top CF targets walk the streets freely in every city. In most cases police stations are manned by JAM members in police uniforms who actively aid the terrorists. On the rare occasion that a Shia terrorist is actually arrested by an ISF unit, he must be turned over to CF immediately or he will be released by the police or courts…

We have mismanaged Iraq in ways too numerous to list here for four years. In order to succeed on the ground we would have to scrap everything we have done and start over….