Al-Qaeda in Iraq Barely Exists

It’s as though every single person either directly part of the federal administration or indirectly involved with it became instantly stupid on 20 January 2001.

Critics Say U.S. Focus On Al-Qaida In Iraq Is Overblown
By CHARLES J. HANLEY The Associated Press
Published: Jun 9, 2007

BAGHDAD – Inside the bloody kaleidoscope of Iraq, the list of enemies and allies is long, shifting and motley, running from “revolution brigades” and Baathists to Salafists, secularists and suicidal zealots, but only one group routinely is tagged “Public Enemy No. 1” by the Americans.

Nine out of 10 times, when it names a foe it faces, the U.S. military names al-Qaida in Iraq. President Bush says Iraq may become an al-Qaida base to “launch new attacks on America.” The U.S. ambassador here suggested this week al-Qaida might “assume real power” in Iraq if U.S. forces withdraw.

Critics say this is overblown and possibly a diversion.

“Such speculation is unrealistic,” Amer Hassan al-Fayadh, Baghdad University political science dean, said of the U.S. statements.

Iraq’s Shiite Muslim majority, strong Kurdish ethnic minority, secularist Sunni Muslims and others would suppress any real power bid by the fringe Sunni religious extremists of al-Qaida, al-Fayadh said.

“The people who are fighting al-Qaida in Iraq are the Sunnis themselves,” he said.

Since Iraqis rose up against the U.S. occupation in 2003, the insurgency has spawned a long roster of militant groups – the 1920 Revolution Brigades, Islamic Army in Iraq, Ansar al-Sunnah and the Mujahedeen Army, among others – drawing on loyalists of the ousted, Sunni-dominated Baathist regime, other nationalists, Islamists, tribal groups and militant Shiites.

Some 30 groups now claim responsibility for attacks against U.S. and government targets, said Ben Venzke, head of the Virginia-based IntelCenter, which tracks such statements for the U.S. government.

Despite this proliferation of enemies, the U.S. command’s news releases on American operations focus overwhelmingly on al-Qaida.

During the first half of May, those releases mentioned al-Qaida 51 times, versus five mentions of other groups.

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