The intra-Sunni fighting in Al-Anbar province is continuing, and the violence is rising. Bill Roggio has done a good job gathering the information here, here, here and here.
I'll also try my hand at laying out some of the recent events below, and explain a little bit of how the various elements you may hear about in the news are related. I've distilled a fair bit of material from Bill, other news sources, and personal knowledge. I don't have a lot of time, so this will probably be sloppy and fairly unedited (sounds familiar, right?).
Since the start of the year, Al-Qaeda In Iraq has attempted 11 chlorine VBIEDs, 9 in Al-Anbar, 1 in Tadji, and one in Baghdad. Of those, 9 have detonated with varying degrees of success, and 2 were found and disabled in Ramadi. The most recent attacks were early this morning in downtown Falluja, outside the government center. Iraqi troops engaged two trucks just after 0630, causing both to explode just short of the base.
Taken together, the string of chlorine bombings have killed 32 Iraqis and wounded over 600, most of them civilians. One US soldier was wounded in an attack on an Iraqi Police checkpoint, as well as possibly more today in Falluja. These attacks have overwhelmingly been targeted towards Iraqi forces, and the leaders and people of the tribes who have begun to oppose Al-Qaeda In Iraq.
There are thirty-one major tribes int the Al-Anbar province. Of those thirty-one, twenty-five support the Anbar Awakening effort of the Anbar Salvation Council- the social and political gathering of sheiks and former insurgents who oppose terroism in Al-Anbar. Of the six remaining tribes, the Iraqi government, Coalition Forces and the Anbar Salvation Council are attempting to split two off from the Al-Qaeda umbrella organization Islamic State of Iraq. Those two tribes are the Al-bu Issa and the Al-Zuba'a. Both have started to fight against Al-Qaeda, and are beginning to pay for it dearly. One chlorine bomb detonated in the Al-bu Issa region of Falluja, as I wrote before, injuring 250 civilians.
Thahir al-Dari is the sheik of the Al-Zuba'a tribe. His son, Harith Dhaher al-Dari was a military leader in the 1920 Revolutionary Brigades. The 1920 Revolutionary Brigades is a nationalist Sunni insurgent group that was formerly affiliated with Al-Qaeda. Earlier this year, the group began to split- one splinter wanted to remain with Al-Qaeda, and the other wanted a break because of disagreements over methods and goals (including issues such as Al-Qaeda's frequent targeting of civilians). Since the rift began, members of the 1920's Brigades have been working with the Anbar Salvation Council (including fighting Al-Qaeda in defense of one of the council leaders), and reportably engaging in talks with the government and coalition forces. Harith al-Dari was killed by Al-Qaeda fighters near Abu Ghraib yesterday, along with a bodyguard. His father, the sheik, narrowly escaped. Salam al-Zuba'a is one of the deputy prime ministers of Iraq, from the Al-Zuba'a tribe. He narrowly escaped being assassinated in a car bomb attack on his mosque on March 23rd. The chief suspect in the bombing is one of his bodyguards- accused to be a member of an insurgent group friendly to Al-Qaeda and opposed to the Anbar Salvation Council.
Two years ago, Sheikh Osama al-Jadaan tried to gather other tribes together to stand against Al-Qaeda. He was swiftly killed, and the leadership of the other tribes was dismantled. Al-Qaeda then filled the vacuum, and the insurgency became stronger. Al-Qaeda has tried at least four times to kill senior leaders of the Anbar Salvation Council with bombs or all-out assault, and has killed several leaders of insurgent groups that show signs of willingness to work with the Anbar Salvation Council or the Iraqi government. This time around, though, the situation is far more favorable to the sheiks than it was two years ago. First, the US military has finally begun to work with the tribes in a realistic fashion, paving the way for tribal militias to supplement the Iraqi Forces. Secondly, the Iraqi Forces themselves are far more numerous and better equipped than they were two years ago.
That's all I have for now. Keep reading, watch the news, and keep your eyes to the sky. The winds in Al-Anbar are changing.