Juan Cole has a good summary of the latest from Iraq over at Salon. One question did occur to me as I was reading this paragraph about the targeting of Sunni Awakening Council members (that is, the tribal factions that have rejected the Salafist extremists and formed neighborhood patrols backed by the US):
On Jan. 7, a suicide bomber with a belt bomb, helped by an accomplice driving a car bomb, attacked the offices of the local pro-American Awakening Council in the eastern Baghdad district of Adhamiya, killing 14 persons and wounding 25. One of the dead was Col. Riyadh al-Samarrai, an Awakening Council leader in the neighborhood. The same day, in the Shaab district near Adhamiya, guerrillas in five cars kidnapped 10 volunteers from an Awakening Council group manning a traffic checkpoint. On the previous day, a suicide bomber waded into a crowd of soldiers at the annual Army Day celebration in the capital. He detonated his fatal payload, killing 11 persons and wounding 17, coloring the street red with blood and scattering body parts.
My question: Who is doing this?
Two possibilities: Al Qaeda in Iraq and other Salafist extremists are the mostly likely perps for the Adhamiya bombing–suicide and vehicle bombers are their style. But the mass kidnapping in Shaab could be either AQI…or possibly Shi’ite militia Special Groups. If the latter, we may be entering a new and dangerous stage of this struggle and the possibility of renewed violence in Baghdad after a relative lull. I’ll be curious to see how this plays out.