Two more important statements by major Iraqi Sunni groups today.
First, from Abu Abdullah, Amir of Ansar al-Sunna (available on most of the forums). It begins by denouncing unnamed but easily inferrable personalities who hold conferences and make speeches about the need to save Iraq through cooperation with American policies, and warning of an American pyschological campaign aimed at dividing and demoralizing the Iraqi jihad. The idea of the day, says Abu Abdullah, is the call to review relations with the United States and its "agent government", and to call for a "national unity" government which would gain "legitimacy." Taking aim at media campaigns aimed at sowing confusion, Abu Abdullah pours scorn on these calls and warns that Muslims can only grant legitimacy based on the sharia. What have been the fruits of Sunni participation in the political process, he asks? An endless brutal assault against Islam and its people (i.e. the Sunnis), prisons full of the innocent, women losing their honor, and so on - all carried out by the Americans and their agents (which implicitly backs Abu Omar al-Baghdadi's latest argument which responded to grumbling about al-Qaeda's behavior by pointing to Abu Ghraib). Denouncing all who cooperate with the political process, Abu Abdullah calls on all Muslims to adhere to the principles of the jihad. Notably, in the context of the divisions over the last month, he pointedly says that all engaged in armed struggle are mujahideen, and calls for all true mujahideen to fight together for the common goal. He warns all Muslims - shaykhs and men and youth - to ignore the psychological warfare unleashed by the enemy and to unite for victory, suggesting that the insurgency factions may be getting worried that their public airing of differences is helping the Americans more than themselves. This reorientation away from infighting towards a common enemy suggest to me that Ansar al-Sunna is still continuing to try to bridge the divide between the Islamic State of Iraq (al-Qaeda) and the Islamic Army of Iraq/1920 Revolution Brigade/et al. Finally, the withering contempt for the political process seems aimed directly at those factions which have been negotiating behind the scenes - suggesting the price of unity.
Meanwhile, in a wide-ranging interview in Akhbar al-Khaleej [link fixed- AGAIN - , thanks], Association of Muslim Scholars head Harith al-Dhari confirms the reality of the conflict between al-Qaeda in Iraq and the insurgency factions, and (like the Islamic Army of Iraq in the statement which started it all) calls on bin Laden to intervene immediately with his Iraqi representatives to put an end to the insurgency infighting. He says that the American occupation had tried repeatedly to sow dissent within the ranks of the insurgency but had for the most part failed. Al-Qaeda, on the other hand, has been genuinely divisive ever since it announced its "Islamic State of Iraq" and began behaving differently towards the other factions. He acknowledges al-Qaeda as a faction of the insurgency, but denies that it is the largest - and blames it for costing the insurgency popularity with the wider population. He calls on bin Laden to intervene, or if he does not have influence over al-Qaeda in Iraq to tell this to the Iraqi people openly so that they know how to proceed. Finally, in response to a question he claims that over 90% of Iraqis reject the occupation and want an immediate American withdrawal, and rejects the idea that an American withdrawal would lead to civil war as American propaganda designed to perpetuate the occupation (the Iraqi people would be far more able to deal with their problems without the American presence). He stresses repeatedly that ending the American occupation is the primary goal of the AMS, and that relations with Iran and with the Shia are perfectly negotiable.
Both of these are important interventions, but further interpretations of their significance will have to wait for Monday.