Tuesday, January 08, 2008
I holler re-up till I'm locked like Mumia:
Another suicide bomber in Baghdad, another Awakening Council victim. This is getting to be serious. Bill Roggio has a really excellent compilation of the AQI wave of mutilation:
Al Qaeda in Iraq has targeted the Awakening Councils on a near-daily basis. Over the past week, six high-profile attacks against Awakening forces occurred in Baghdad, Diyala, Anbar, and Babil provinces.
What was that I said about a return of attacks in Anbar? Oh yeah. Roggio suggests that yesterday's attack is vengeance for this particular Awakening Council commander, Col. Riyadh al-Sammarai, shuttering a mosque controlled by the Association of Muslim Scholars. But clearly this is a broad campaign, stretching out within the places that AQI, according to Bill Kristol, has been defeated. ("...we really don’t want to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory in Iraq.") My guess is that AQI knows what Bob Gates and David Petraeus know: the surge ends this year, no matter what, and so it wants to underscore to the Sunnis that reject al-Qaeda that aligning with the U.S. is not a safe thing to do.

So here's the question. AQI messed up by trying to rule Sunni Iraq through fear. That's why there was an Awakening in the first place. Is AQI going to do the same thing again? Or is this latest round of killing a demonstration effect, to be followed by/supplemented with outreach to key Sunni anti-AQI leaders? Is this already happening, beyond the notice of the press? All that speaks to the broader mystery of AQI, the mystery that has implications for al-Qaeda v. 3.0 beyond Iraq: how strategically does New Model al-Qaeda think?

--Spencer Ackerman