Intro and Analysis
The Islamic Army of Iraq is one of the traditional insurgent brands that has advertised its return to militancy this year, having previously worked within the political system via its front group the Sunni Popular Movement for the goal of establishing a Sunni federal region. The dynamics though have somewhat since shifted, with one supporter of the group affirming to me recently that for the Islamic Army, the present struggle has now become "greater" than a fight for a Sunni federal region. Similarly note the language of "revolution" etc. in this latest official statement, and this interview with a field commander in which, despite affirming, contrary to the Islamic State's (IS) rhetoric, that there will be no attacks on majority Shi'a areas like Najaf and Karbala, he nonetheless declares a goal of "liberating Baghdad from Shi'a rule." The notion of 'liberating Baghdad' is highly delusional and dangerous, in so far as it is strongly driven by the notion that Sunni Arabs constitute a demographic plurality or majority in Iraq or at least a majority in the capital.
All that said, I do not doubt that many members of the group would be satisfied by a meaningful government grant of a Sunni federal region, just as many of the Italian socii in the Social War, despite the declaration of an 'Italia' entity independent from Rome and coinage imagery of crushing the Roman wolf, would have been satisfied by the benefits of a Roman citizenship grant.
In any case, the main thrust of this latest statement is the rejection of claims that the Islamic Army is aiming to form a neo-Sahwa movement to fight IS. It follows on from a 31 July statement from spokesman Ibrahim al-Shammary warning against the formation of Sahwa forces, and is to be viewed in the broader context of a series of statements from across the non-IS insurgent spectrum, including the Naqshbandi Army (JRTN), Jaysh al-Mujahideen and the General Military Council (largely a JRTN-front group but subsuming wider Harith al-Dari-linked insurgents like 1920s Revolution Brigades) decrying the very concept amid the Nujaifis' playing up to international media a nascent "Mosul Battalions'" movement to fight against the IS.
Thus, despite all IS' assertions of power the other insurgents might disapprove of (e.g. the dhimmi pact on Christians in Mosul; the move on Sinjar with its Yezidi population; the destruction of shrines), the other insurgents' priorities seem to be very much elsewhere for now. My view is that this lack of desire to confront IS stems from two factors: (i) fear of IS' power, (ii) viewing the "Safavid" government as a greater evil. That the Islamic Army should place additional emphasis on not forming a Sahwa should perhaps come as no surprise when the group's reputation took a hit during the days of the Iraq War and aftermath of the American withdrawal as many Islamic Army commanders joined the Sahwa movement and the group essentially demobilized and joined the political process post-2011, to the disapproval of the rejectionist Jaysh al-Mujahideen.
It might be argued that the other insurgent groups' strategy in the long-run is to allow IS to take the initiative in trying to conquer new territory, hoping that the Islamic State will overstretch itself and wear down its manpower and resources in fighting with government forces, making it vulnerable to a multi-pronged attack or allowing the non-IS insurgents to 'fill the gap' unopposed, but such an approach, if this is what they have in mind, seems a very risky strategy, especially when one considers how much IS has devoted to consolidating successfully control over major urban areas at their own expense, including Tikrit, most of Mosul, and western Anbar towns like al-Qa'im and Rawa. Fallujah is also to be noted in this context, as IS has over the past several months pursued a gradualist strategy of asserting dominance through a mixture of co-optation and coercion, such that the majority of the non-IS insurgents in Fallujah have now been subsumed under IS.
On a final point, note throughout that the Islamic Army refers to itself as the "group [jamaat] of the Islamic Army," contrasting with the Islamic State's elevation of itself to a state and all its trappings [e.g. an army]. The group also explicitly affirms its role in the 2013 Sunni Arab protest movements, which, as I have noted, took the form of the Sunni Popular Movement.
Here is the statement.
Falsehoods and lies have been repeated and spread on social media sites accusing the group of the Islamic Army of Iraq or some of its leaders of participating in or preparing for a new Sahwa project.
This is a great and clear falsehood and distortion: may God curse and fight whosoever spread this lie. Further there remains no excuse for anyone to promote these falsehoods among those linked to the Sunna or the revolution. We say: Indeed the Sahwa project today is a project of treachery, betrayal and hostility, aiming to salvage the Safavid government and turn the war into an internal Sunni-Sunni war so that the Safavids can repair and restore their ranks. This will not take place by the permission of God, the Great, the Powerful.
Indeed we know that the enemies and malevolent ones were overwhelmed by the magnificent and memorable performance of the group [the Islamic Army], its crucial role in the peaceful demonstrations, and its distinction in the current armed revolution that has stemmed from veterans of the jihad and revolution in all its aspects, especially the military, media and national aspects. All this adds to the group's prior accumulations in all respects, and has led some of the criminals to accuse the group and fabricate lies against it.
Your lies and slanders have proven sufficient in the eyes of the believers for God Almighty says: "And those who harm believing men and women for what they have not earned have brought upon themselves slander and clear sin" [Qur'an 33:58], and our Prophet upon him be peace and prayers says: "Whoever says something against a believer that he has not done or said, God make him dwell in the radgha al-khabal until he renounces what he said." Radgha al-Khabal= asarat of the People of Hellfire which is also the puss and filth that comes out from the vaginas of prostitutes.
So whosoever wishes to avoid in the hellfire in the depth of puss and filth and excretions of the people of Hellfire, he should avoid throwing accusations at Muslims and he should be a true Muslim as Muslims are saved from his tongue and hand, for the Prophet said: "A Muslim is from whosesoever tongue and hand Muslims are saved."
And in what preceded is a statement for whosoever was ignorant and a reminder for whoseoever was forgetting, and may failure and a curse come upon whosoever intends falsehood, and may Satan follow him and make him deviate from the path of the Merciful one [...]"