March 14, 2006:
Coalition forces in Iraq are believed to have captured some very sensitive al Qaeda documents. Apparently, one of these is a "Death List," giving the names of prominent Iraqis of all factions whom al Qaeda believes opposes its efforts to establish an Islamist state in the country. Perhaps not surprisingly, many of the names on the list are of Sunni tribal and religious leaders who have been less than enthusiastic in their support for al Qaeda. Sadly, a number of those on the list have already been slain.
Al Qaeda's assassination campaign against Sunni leaders is one of several factors that have led to an increase in Sunni militias turning against the Islamic terrorists. In addition to al Qaeda assassinations, middle-of-the-road Sunni leaders have been targeted by Shia death squads, as well as Baath (pro-Saddam) Party groups. That the national security forces are largely Shia and Kurdish does not go over well either, particularly since police and army personnel are often not very gentle in dealing with Sunni civilians. And then there's a rising crime rate. Sunni militias have already defeated al Qaeda in some parts of the country, providing encouragement for their expansion.
While stronger Sunni self-defense forces will probably improve security in some areas, their existence underscores the inability of the government to maintain security nation wide, and will probably be an obstacle to establish a comprehensive national security policy.