At Peace Action West, we have been working to push candidates to take a strong position on Iraq, advocating the withdrawal of ALL troops, not leaving behind thousands of troops for combat activities like counter-terrorism. Raed Jarrar, Iraq consultant to the American Friends Service Committee and one-time Peace Action West field canvasser, recently published an article on how this position of total withdrawal is the only way to rid Iraq of Al Qaeda:
Several sources we reached in the Sunni community agreed that AQI, a predominantly Sunni insurgent group that did not exist prior to the U.S. invasion — it started in 2005 — will not exist for long after coalition forces depart. AQI is universally detested by large majorities of Iraqis of all ethnic and sectarian backgrounds because of its fundamentalist interpretation of religious law and efforts to set up a separate Sunni state, and its only support — and it obviously does enjoy some support — is based solely on its opposition to the deeply unpopular U.S.-led occupation of Iraq.
We spoke by phone with Qasim Al-jumaili, a former member of Falluja’s City Council, who was confident that his local militias would eliminate Al Qaeda in Iraq from Fallujah if U.S. forces were to withdraw. "The U.S. presence is making our work harder," he said. "For example, the Anbar Salvation Front [the Sunni tribal leadership group that declared war against Al Qaeda in Iraq], is not getting a lot of public support because they think we’re collaborating with the U.S. and the Al-Maliki government."…
…The public opinion research shows that those views are shared by overwhelming majorities of ordinary Iraqis. All of Iraq’s ethnic groups oppose Al Qaeda. They reject AQI’s attacks on Iraqis, its harshly fundamentalist brand of Islam and its attempts to form a separate Sunni "caliphate" — an independent theocratic state — in central Iraq, but significant pluralities — and a huge majority of Sunnis — support AQI’s attacks on occupation forces. A recent poll by the BBC found that almost half of all Iraqis backed AQI’s attacks on coalition troops, but only one in 100 favored its larger separatist agenda.