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Baathists "Disown" Al Qaeda

10:11 AM, Aug 22, 2007 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
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From adnkronosinternational (AKI) we learn that the Iraqi Baathists, led by Saddam's former righthand man Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, have decided to "disown al-Qaeda." It is in an interesting development in the insurgency since Saddam's Baathists have fought alongside al Qaeda since the beginning of this war. I don't know if this latest development is a result of the "surge" or not. It may be that al-Douri has realized that being on al Qaeda's team is a losing proposition given the success American-led forces have had in routing al Qaeda in places like Anbar. We'll wait to see if the new schism is temporary or more permanent. But in the meantime I'll just note that the Iraqi Baathists had to be working with al Qaeda in the first place in order to now "disown" them. (See Mark Eichenlaub's Regime of Terror web site for a handy list of Baathists who have been working with al Qaeda.) Here is AKI's report:

The leader of Iraq's banned Baath party, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, has decided to join efforts by the Iraqi authorities to fight al-Qaeda, one of the party's former top officials, Abu Wisam al-Jashaami, told pan-Arab daily Al Hayat.

"Al Douri has decided to sever ties with al-Qaeda and sign up to the programme of the national resistance, which includes routing Islamist terrorists and opening up dialogue with the Baghdad government and foreign forces," al-Jashaami said.

Al-Douri has decided to deal directly with US forces in Iraq, according to al-Jashaami. He figures in the 55-card deck of "most wanted" officials from the former Iraqi regime issued by the US government.

In return, for cooperating in the fight against al-Qaeda, al-Douri has asked for guarantees over his men's safety and for an end to Iraqi army attacks on his militias.

Recent weeks have seen a first step in this direction, when Baathist fighters cooperated with Iraqi government forces in hunting down al-Qaeda operatives in the volatile Diyala province and in several districts of the capital, Baghadad.

Although the Baath party was officially banned after US-led forces in 2003 toppled the regime of Iraq's late president Saddam Hussein, its members have fought in the insurgency.

Until just a few months ago, former Baath party members were helping Islamists carry out terrorist attacks against US forces in Iraq.

HT Counterterrorism Blog.