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Amariyah, the Anbar Salvation Council, and Reconciliation

3:34 PM, Jun 1, 2007 • By BILL ROGGIO
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In March, we noted that "elements of the Islamic Army in Iraq, Jaish Al-Mujahideen, the 1920 Revolution Brigades, and other elements of the Sunni insurgency are battling al Qaeda in Anbar, and are fighting alongside government forces. Al Qaeda is countering by assassinating as many of the leaders of the Sunni opposition as possible." This fighting has spread outside of Anbar, into Diyala, Salahadin, and Baghdad as the Awakening movement spreads to the provinces. Today, the 1920 Revolution Brigades has been "by and large co-opted," according to the American intelligence official, while the Islamic Army in Iraq is fragmented between pro and anti-al Qaeda factions.

The fighting in Amariyah comes just as Lieutenant General Ray Odierno, the commander of Multinational Corps Iraq, discussed the prospects of reconciliation with insurgent groups, with the exclusion of al Qaeda. "I believe there are elements [of the insurgency] that are irreconcilable, but I believe the large majority are [reconcilable]," said LTG Odierno in yesterday's press briefing. "The figures I use, I believe, about 80 percent are reconcilable, both Jaish al-Mahdi as well as Sunni insurgents. I believe little, very few of al Qaeda are reconcilable, but there might be a small portion."

To conduct reconciliation talks, each insurgent group will first need to establish a political wing. This is where the Anbar Salvation Council, and its political arm, the Anbar Awakening, came into play in the province. "The Awakening is the face of reconciliation for all practical purposes in Anbar," the American intelligence official familiar with the group informed us.

LTG Odierno confirmed this in yesterday's press briefing. "[The Iraqi government has] reached out to the tribes in Al Anbar, and they are working with them in order to continue their movement towards the political process," he said. "And that's what this reconciliation is about. It's about bringing these groups into the political process so we can deal with their differences in a peaceful way instead of in violent ways." And, as we have noted repeatedly, the Awakening movement is spreading throughout Iraq.