The Iraqi Insurgency uses a decentralized media campaign to spread its message through websites, internet forums, radio, weekly magazines, newspapers, pamphletes and distributed DVDs. They even publish training manuals. They frame their enemies in religious terms: Shiite are heretics, Americans are Crusaders, Sunnis cooperating with the government are traitors, etc. It’s decentralized and difficult to shut down.
This report describes the effort and how decentralized insurgencies are prone to disagree and split into rival factions.
The greatest strengths of the Iraqi Sunni-based insurgency’s media strategy — decentralization and flexibility — are also its greatest weaknesses, according to a report officially released today by RFE/RL.
This type of media campaign reveals conflicts of interest within the decentralized insurgency. It’s a clear sign of lack of coordination that is more profound than the inability to “stay on message.” I call this effect a Strange Balancing Mechanism.
In Iraq, it is now apparent that the nationalists, the Sunni Tribes, and the Islamists have conflicting objectives.
Kimmage and Ridolfo argue that the loss of coordination and message control that results from decentralization has revealed fundamental disagreements about Iraq’s present and future between nationalist and global jihadist groups in Iraq and that these disagreements are ripe for exploitation by those interested in a liberal and democratic Iraq.
David Kilcullen aims to exploit these divisions through his disaggregation strategy. The Global Jihad groups, namely Al-Qaeda, act against the short-term, local interests of nationalists and tribes.
Those who followed insurgent propaganda noticed deep fissures developing back in 2006. Since then, the “Insurgency” has split into three different insurgencies. One is al-Qaeda. One group, the Anbari Tribes and the 1920 Revolutionary Brigades are cooperating with the Iraq Government and attacking Al-Qaeda. The other is the Islamic Army of Iraq and smaller movements that are somewhere in between. The IAI split with al-Qaeda over the mass-murder of Iraqi Muslims, but has not actively cooperated with the Iraqi government.
This is developing, so it can still swing anyway.