The growing split between Iraq’s Sunni Arabs and the foreign jihadists led by Zarqawi is a huge story that hasn’t gotten enough press, although both Ed Morrissey and Glenn Reynolds have been talking about it. Both noted this AP story, which says that pro-Saddam Sunnis have gone so far as to vow to protect the polls against jihadist terrorism:
Saddam Hussein loyalists who violently opposed January elections have made an about-face as Thursday’s polls near, urging fellow Sunni Arabs to vote and warning al Qaeda militants not to attack.
In a move unthinkable in the bloody run-up to the last election, guerrillas in the western insurgent heartland of Anbar province say they are even prepared to protect voting stations from fighters loyal to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of al Qaeda in Iraq.
The Sunnis recognize that their boycott of the last election was a bad mistake, and some Sunni clerics have now pronounced voting a religious duty. They are distancing themselves from Zarqawi and al Qaeda; of course, after the Jordanian bombings, on top of Zarqawi’s many mass murders of Iraqis, just about everyone in the Arab world is distancing himself from Zarqawi.
I found this interesting:
Saddam loyalists have turned against Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant whose fighters travel to Iraq from across the Arab world to blow themselves up in a bid to spark sectarian civil war.
“Zarqawi is an American, Israeli and Iranian agent who is trying to keep our country unstable so that the Sunnis will keep facing occupation,” said a Baathist insurgent leader who would give his name only as Abu Abdullah.
Actually, he’s right, if you put aside the ritual reference to the US, Israel and Iran. I made this point on our radio show yesterday. Most Iraqis, and all Americans, want American troops to vacate Iraq as soon as possible. What stands in their way? Terrorism. “Abu Abdullah” is correct in saying that Zarqawi wants to use terrorist attacks to keep the Americans in Iraq. Al Qaeda’s interests are at odds with substantially all Iraqis, which is one reason why the Iraq war most likely will turn out to be a big victory for the U.S. and the Bush administration.