BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Iraqi and coalition forces have arrested the second most senior figure in al-Qaida in Iraq, Iraq's national security adviser announced on Sunday, saying the group now suffered from a "serious leadership crisis."
Hamed Jumaa Farid al-Saeedi, known as Abu Humam or Abu Rana, was captured north of Baghdad a few days ago "along with another group of his aides and followers," Mouwafak al-Rubaie said.GOI: This is indeed great news, however, the skeptic in me wonders if this will make much of a difference. I have to say no it probably won't make much difference. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was a much bigger fish and after his demise the violence raged on like a forest fire at zero containment. Someone else will surely rise to fill the position that al-Saeedi held and not much will change. Even if al-Qaeda in Iraq is crippled with these recent arrests and killings it doesn't seem that it will do much to stop the sectarian violence which, frankly is more of a problem then outside terrorist influences such as al-Qaeda:
A report from the Pentagon on Friday said that the core conflict in Iraq had changed from a battle against insurgents to an increasingly bloody fight between Shia and Sunni Muslims, creating conditions that could lead to civil war. It noted that attacks rose by 24 per cent to 792 per week – the highest of the war – and daily Iraqi casualties soared by 51 per cent to almost 120, prompting some ordinary Iraqis to look to illegal militias for their safety and sometimes for social needs and welfare.
GOI: In the meantime violence continued in Iraq:
At least 16 Iraqis and two U.S. soldiers were killed Sunday in bomb attacks and shootings nationwide. (GOI: Two other soldiers were killed as well I just heard on CNN).
GOI: Even worse, however, is the frustration of the most important, moderating voice in Iraq who is giving up on trying to stop the sectarian violence:
The most influential moderate Shia leader in Iraq has abandoned attempts to restrain his followers, admitting that there is nothing he can do to prevent the country sliding towards civil war.
Aides say Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is angry and disappointed that Shias are ignoring his calls for calm and are switching their allegiance in their thousands to more militant groups which promise protection from Sunni violence and revenge for attacks."I will not be a political leader any more," he told aides. "I am only happy to receive questions about religious matters."
It is a devastating blow to the remaining hopes for a peaceful solution in Iraq and spells trouble for British forces, who are based in and around the Shia stronghold of Basra.
The cleric is regarded as the most important Shia religious leader in Iraq and has been a moderating influence since the invasion of 2003. He ended the fighting in Najaf between Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi army and American forces in 2004 and was instrumental in persuading the Shia factions to fight the 2005 elections under the single banner of the United Alliance.GOI: Damn, this is a huge blow. If the most important Shia leader in Iraq is giving up then things are only going to get worse--if that is possible. If Sistani is packing it in then what hope do we Americans have in changing the hearts and minds to not join and fight in the militias? Not much I'm afraid.
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