October 15, 2006
By Stephen Negus, Iraq Correspondent and agencies
A video posted on the internet on Sunday in the name of one of Iraq’s largest insurgent groups called for the creation of a separate Sunni Islamic state in the country.
If authentic, it could indicate a shift in strategy for parts of the Sunni Arab insurgency. ”Your brothers in the Mutayibeen Coalition herald the establishment of the Islamic State of Iraq,” said a spokesman, whose face was blotted out.
He said it should encompass the governates of Baghdad, Anbar, Diyala, Kirkuk, Salahedddin, Nineveh and parts of Babel and Wasit – a swathe of central and western Iraq where most Sunni Arabs live.
The Mutayibeen coalition was purportedly set up last week by the Mujahideen Shura Council, an al-Qaeda-dominated umbrella organisation, along with smaller groups and tribal leaders.
It is rarely clear whether internet statements represent a coherent stance by insurgents or a splinter group, or indeed if they are authentic at all.
But if a separate state is really now a goal of radical Sunni Islamist guerrillas, it would put them at odds with mainstream Sunni politicians and many other insurgent groups. They tend to look askance at partition, which they claim would deprive their oil-poor central Iraqi heartland of resources.
Sectarian violence flared over the weekend, with police announcing yesterday that suspected Shia militiamen had killed 42 Sunnis in the Balad region, 80 kilometers north of the capital.
The killings were in apparent retaliation for the deaths of 17 Shia, whose bodies were found on the town’s outskirts on Friday.