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November 14, 2007

Big: Iraqi Forces Seize Offices Of Major Sunni Group, Accusing Them Of Cooperation With Al Qaeda

If they're with Al Qaeda, it's a nice bust by the Iraqi forces.

If they're just political rivals, obviously it's not such a nice bust.

I guess we'll wait to hear from the US about this, but it seems like a legitimate anti-terrorist action. Note the troops seem to have been dispatched on the orders of an agency likely controlled by Sunnis:

Iraqi authorities seized the headquarters of the country's most influential Sunni clerical group Wednesday, sealing off its west Baghdad compound and accusing the organization of supporting al-Qaida in Iraq.

...

Iraqi security forces dispatched by the Sunni Endowment, a government agency that cares for Sunni mosques and shrines, surrounded the headquarters of the Association of Muslim Scholars at the Um al-Qura mosque about 9 a.m. and demanded the staff leave by noon, the association said in a statement posted on its Web site.

Troops shut down the association's radio station, which operated from the mosque, and told employees to remove all personal belongings and furniture, the statement said.

"The association has always justified killing and assassinations carried out by al-Qaida," the head of the Sunni Endowments, Ahmed Abdul-Ghafoor al-Samarraie, told reporters at the mosque, built by Saddam Hussein to commemorate the 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

Al-Samarraie said the association had opposed the Sunni revolt against al-Qaida, which began last year in Anbar province and is spreading throughout the Sunni heartland. He said the association opposed any group formed "to purge their neighborhoods of al-Qaida elements."

The association has long opposed the U.S. military presence in Iraq and has often been at odds with the Shiite-dominated government. The association spearheaded the Sunni boycott of the January 2005 elections and has often taken public positions in support of Sunni insurgent goals.

But the timing of the move suggests that the government is more confident that it can take action against the hardline Sunni clerics without risking a backlash within the Sunni community and reprisal attacks by al-Qaida and other insurgent groups.

I hope that's right.

Consider what it might mean: Groups advocating violence and support for Al Qaeda no longer have enough popular support that the Iraqi government or coalition forces worry about taking them down.

That would be a sea-change.

Moqtada al-Sadr?

Hey, how ya doin'.


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posted by Ace at 04:04 PM

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