New Sunni Fundamentalist Militia

New Sunni Fundamentalist Militia Announced;

al-Kubeisi Exiled by US, will not Join other Sunnis

The London daily al-Hayat reports that the “Clear Victory Movement,” a Sunni group, has formed a militia to offset the “Mahdi Army” of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. It pledges to oppose the American occupation forces if they continue to marginalize Sunnis in Iraq. The vice chairman, Shaikh Salih Muhammad al-Dulaimi, told the newspaper that his movement “Has made the transition from covert operations to public action during the past month, in order to defend Sunni interests, to ensure a role to what they call the “Sunni Triangle,” and to establish a military parity with other communities.” He said most supporters were in al-Anbar province, and that they had formed in response to the American refusal to give Sunnis from the triangle representation on the Interim Govering Council. That’s all we need, another communally based militia.

In another development, Jasim al-Isawi, official spokesman for the “United National Movement,” a Sunni fundamentalist group headed by Ahmad al-Kubeisi, told al-Hayat newspaper on Sunday that his group did not attend the recent meeting of the Sunnis (in a mosque in the Yarmouk quarter of Baghdad). He added, “We have reservations about creating a consultative council out of that meeting because we do not want such a council to create a reaction among the Shiite community in response.”

He accused Iran of interfering to strengthen the power of the “extremist Shiite tendency inside the country,” and affirmed that hundreds of Iranian agents had slipped into Iraq to support this tendency. He also accused the Iranian secret police of having an interest in assassinations targetting both Sunni and Shiite elements.

Al-Isawi revealed to al-Hayat that the Americans had informed al-Kubeisi, who is based in Dubai, that he would not be allowed to enter Iraq, and affirmed that cliques inside Iraq had connived at that decision.

Al-Kubeisi has been based in Dubai for many years, and has gone back and forth between Dubai and Baghdad. His ability to do so in the late Saddam years raised questions in the minds of some about whether he had done a deal of some sort with the dictator. Al-Kubeisi was involved in staging Islamist demonstrations in Baghdad last spring, sometimes in collaboration with Shiites. Anthony Shadid of the Washington Post at one point reported accusations that his followers were giving crowd support to demonstrations by anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, and that al-Kubeisi himself was channeling Saudi money to Muqtada. He then fell off the radar. It is now clear that he went back to Dubai at some point and then couldn’t get permission to reenter Iraq! It is not clear to me on what grounds an Iraqi citizen could be kept out of his own country, though maybe they just threatened to arrest him if he came. (For my two cents, I don’t find the allegation of him funneling Saudi money to an extremist Shiite like Muqtada plausible. Saudi Wahhabis don’t generally like any kind of Shiite).

Ahmad al-Kubeisi should not be confused with the Sunni clerical leader Abdul Salam al-Kubeisi; I have been unable to find out if the two are related. Al-Kubeisi is a common Iraqi name.

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