The Anbar Model of victory is being repeated in Diyala. These have always been the two battlefield provinces. If AQI loses them, they cannot contest Iraq.
The US is now working with the Diyala Salvation Front and other former insurgents. The NYT reports (2 months after the fact) about these odd bedfellows.
Members of the 1920 Revolutionary Brigades are fighting with the US Army. They’ve been named the Kit Carsons scouts.
In March, Al-Qaeda and the 1920s fought for control over the Diyala Capital of Baquba after a falling out between the groups.
During this time, AQI lost control Ramadi, Anbar. The Anbari Tribes revolted against AQI and chased them out, while US forces clamped down on Baghdad. AQI reorganized in the Diyala Province, with Baquba as their base of operations. AQI claimed Baquba as their capital. Over the past 2 weeks, US and Insurgent forces easily evicted Al-Qaeda from Baquba.
The new coalition reflects some hard-headed calculations on both sides. Eager for intelligence on their elusive foes, American officers have been willing to overlook the past of some of their newfound allies.
[The Sunnis] are more concerned with strengthening their ability to fend off threats from Sunni jihadists and Shiite militias. In a surprising twist, the jihadists — the Americans’ most ardent foes — made the new strategy possible. Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, a predominantly Iraqi organization with a small but significant foreign component, severely overplayed its hand, spawning resentment by many residents and other insurgent groups.
Imposing a severe version of Islamic law, the group installed its own clerics, established an Islamic court and banned the sale of cigarettes, which even this week were nowhere to be found in the humble shops in western Baquba to the consternation of patrolling Iraqi troops.
The fighters raised funds by kidnapping local Iraqis, found accommodations by evicting some residents from their homes and killed with abandon when anyone got in their way, residents say. A small group of bearded black-clad militants took down the Iraqi flag and raised the banner of their self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq.
Iraqis and former insurgents are joining the fledgling police force and forming neighborhood watches. The US changed strategies by prohibiting Shia Police from other regions from taking over, as many had been infiltrated by Shia militias.
Of course, this is not the idealized long-term solution, but the alliance with ~80% of the Iraqi Insurgency has produced a remarkable turnaround in the fighting against al-Qaeda.