Anyone interested in the Sunni insurgency developments which I've been focusing on lately will want to check out this absolutely fascinating account of the formation of the Reform and Jihad Front from the unidentified Baghdad correspondent of the Conflicts Forum. I don't want to reproduce too much of it, since you should go read it on the CF site, but here are some of the key bits:
In early May, according to our sources, the leaders of the three organizations that eventually formed the front traveled to Damascus to consult with a number of resistance figures on how best to respond to the al-Qaeda challenge posed by the formation of the ISI. The resistance figures met with Mohammed Younis al-Ahmed, a former leader in Saddam Hussein’s Baath Socialist Party from Mosul, in a suburb of Damascus. The three leaders told al-Ahmed that they believed that the formation of the ISI would actually strengthen “the American and Iranian plot to divide our country” — a point of view on which al-Ahmed agreed. Al-Ahmed agreed to the formation of the RJF, but counseled the three leaders that their groups would need to confront the ISI in Mosul and in al-Anbar province “in order to regain their credibility among the people.”
The RJF’s goals are to “fight all kind of occupations” (that is, American and Iranian) and to “make Iraq an Islamic State and guarantee its unity under an Islamic flag.” The RJF has also vowed to “target occupation forces and their agents and not civilians” to “promote moderate Islam and denounce all parties which do not differentiate between good and evil” to “abolish all decisions adopted by the American government including de-Baathification” and “to work to release all prisoners.” The RJF announced that they will never recognize the al-Maliki government and that upon taking power they will abolish the current constitution.
The quick formation of the RJF — almost totally ignored by the Western media — has brought relief to American and Iraqi officials, who feared the disintegration of a more moderate resistance in the face of the al-Qaeda threat. But the relief has been short-lived. The growth of the RJF, its ability to appeal to a broad political front, and its organizing skills have been felt throughout Anbar Province and far into the north. And while the RJF has vowed that it will fight the takifir current of al-Qaeda and marginalize the more extreme elements inside the resistance itself, its ability to quickly root itself into the populations of the Sunni heartland, just weeks after its establishment, has provided little relief to hard-pressed American and Iraqi military units.
Read the rest at Conflicts Forum (CF editors, let me know if I excerpted too much!)