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Det har vært flere voldelige sammenstøt mellom Al Qaida og irakiske opprørere. Det har gått opp for sunniene at Al Qaidas kurs betyr at de taper alt. Det vil de ikke.

New York Times har snakket med flere «insurgents» som har vært i åpen konflikt med Al Qaida. En vesentlig del av Al Qaida består av irakere, men de lokkes av de store pengene utlendingene betaler.

In the predominantly Sunni town of Dhuluiya, north of Baghdad, local residents blamed insurgents for their isolation. In the days leading up to a vote on the constitution, they went to the resistance and demanded they let people vote.

«All of the Sunnis were angry at the resistance,» said a resident of Dhuluiya. «People realized, if we do not take part it, then we will lose the government. So the resistance agreed. They said, ‘We will protect you from anyone who tries to attack you.’ «

Emboldened by the promise of protection by the resistance, clerics from five local mosques encouraged their congregations to vote, even sending out people to put up posters about the election.

The excitement over the vote spurred Al Qaeda into action. At night, men put up their own posters threatening, «He who votes will be beheaded.» Then, two days before the Oct. 15 referendum, a group of Qaeda fighters confronted an imam in one of the local Sunni mosques and lectured him about how voting contradicted the Koran. According to the imam, who spoke on condition of anonymity out of concern for his safety, two of the men appeared from their accents to be from Algeria and Syria. They vowed to kill anyone who removed their posters.

«Why are you driving the troubles into our town?» the Sunni cleric said he asked the men. «If you want jihad, the U.S. military is there.»

Imams from five Sunni mosques tore down the Qaeda posters wherever they could find them.

«I myself tore those into pieces,» the Sunni cleric said.

Al Qaeda got the message. On election day, Dhuluiya’s voters streamed into polling places. The streets were quiet, with only a single attack on a polling center.

Local Insurgents Tell of Clashes With Al Qaeda’s Forces in Iraq