The battle in Amiriyah, currently Baghdad's most dangerous district, lasted two days. Afterwards, the dead littered the streets and even the last inhabitants of the Maluki mosque had fled. No one counted the actual number of casualties, since the Iraqi police, army and US military no longer come to this part of Amiriyah. Here terror, insurgency, murder and violence are left to fester undisturbed.The parties in Iraq have never fallen into the simplistic categories defined by the neocons. There is no insurgency in Iraq, not if it's defined as a single entity bent on fighting the Iraqi government. There are dozens of factions, each fighting for political power. Many of those factions also have representatives in the Iraqi parliament itself. Alliances are formed and dissolved constantly. Whether it's Chalabi playing the Americans and the Iranians against each other, or the simmering tensions between Shiite factions, or fighting between various Sunni factions and the foreign al Qaeda contingent, news of more violence is confirmation that the country is collapsing, not evidence of a successful American strategy.
Still, the carnage in Amiriyah is a cause of hope for some. Until recently, the Iraqi branch of the global terrorist network al-Qaida had good ties to the Islamic Army, a homegrown radical Sunni outfit taking part in the country's insurgency. The two groups used to congratulate each other on their respective Web sites whenever they managed to blow up a US Humvee or a group of Iraqi police recruits.
The Iraqi government and the US military have both acknowledged the new internal Sunni conflict with cautious optimism. They consider al-Qaida to be the worst of the problems plaguing the war-torn country. The terrorist offspring of the late Islamist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi -- who was killed last year -- aren't interested in Iraq as a nation, nor do they care about the plight of the Iraqi people. What they want is the civil war that they've successfully fueled through a series of attacks and suicide bombings.
Update: Tony Snow confirms that, yes, the Bush administration does see the increase in violence as a sign that their strategy is succeeding.