June 13th, 2007 11:13 EST
TAP Consulting - The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend
"The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend" - Arabian Proverb
1. Hamas v. Fatah
2. Al Qaeda v. Shia in Iraq
Major Events in Regional Conflicts Today
In less than 18 hours, two major events have occurred that could potentially change the face of two regional conflicts in the Middle East. Yesterday, Hamas seized the security headquarters of Fatah. Today, The Holy Shrine of Samarra, site of last year's February 22 flashpoint bombing which kicked off sectarian warfare across Iraq, was again bombed by Al Qaeda. Further, Muqtada al Sadr, who previously had accused Sunni insurgents of targeting the Golden Dome, now himself believes that this was the work of Al Qaeda (Perception is Reality).
It is our analysis that AQIZ (Al Qaeda in Iraq) operations in the greater Baghdad region have now become significantly disrupted due to the 2007 troop "surge", and continuous coalition operations around the city. Attacks are now being focused on big ticket targets such as critical infrastructure and religious sites, similar to the pattern shifts of attacks seen in Ramadi specifically to suicide bombings as coalition forces and Sunnis interrupted the operational tempo of a desperate Al Qaeda force.
Reaching out to Fatah / Muqtadr al Sadr
Depending on the frequency of further significant events in the coming days, these two attacks might separately play an extremely significant role in the conflict in Gaza, and potentially also on the War in Iraq. US diplomacy may be able to capitalize on these events to bring pause to the respective conflicts.
As Fatah is now on the defensive, and Hamas is currently being funded and supported by Iran and Syria, there is an opportunity to extend overtures to Fatah in trying to build a working relationship with Israel. This may be their only chance for political and military survival. Palestinian hatred for the Israelis will certainly not fade for generations, but there may be some positive lasting effects if the US can somehow facilitate at least a short term relationship between the opposing groups.
Concurrently, in Iraq, as bridges and mosques crash to the ground around him, Muqtada al Sadr may soon realize US troops are the lesser of two evils when compared to Al Qaeda. Similarly to the Israelis and Palestinians, the gulf between Sunni and Shia may not close for decades, but fighting Al Qaeda may now become an increasingly important goal for Shiite rulers.
Further, these events may allow the US to drive a wedge between Sadr and Iran (or at least weaken that country's influence). It would certainly NOT make any sense for US forces to materially support Sadr's militias, but these events might facilitate more open dialogue between the two groups to push more reasonable diplomacy and a cessation of hostilities between Sunni and Shia.
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