".......Making allowances for the fact that in those days there was still room for contemplating Sunni acceptance of assistance from the US-backed Maliki administration (rather than the US directly), the breakdown was like this: Abu Risha and those ready and anxious for support from the US side; versus those who rejected the idea of US support and saw acceptance of US support as a prelude to fitna.
As things worked out, Abu Risha got all the US support anyone could dream of, sealed with that famous Bush handshake, while on the other side, Dhari's AMSI has taken on the role of a would-be leader/coordinator of the combined Sunni resistance, namely the groups that have consistently fought the US in Iraq since 2003.
But my point is that it has been apparent since at least November that this was abu-Risha the collaborator on the one side versus the principled Sunni-resistance on the other.
But "resistance" isn't an allowed expression in American media, and so the cartoon-version of this for Western consumption was "locals fighting AlQaeda". And that's why I recommend people refer back to the introductory article in the New York Times linked to above, because there you have the images to go with it: the charismatic figure in the flowing robes and the rest of it.
What Petraeus has been doing in Washington is merely extending that cartoon story about helping Abu Risha and the other virtuous locals fight the outsiders (now described as AQ and the Iranian agents). Meanwhile, if the Americans were ever to be serious about arranging for an orderly withdrawal from harms way, they would need to negotiate this with the people who have defeated them, namely the Sunni resistance. But even if other parts of the cartoon-story get debunked, still the resistance is merely referred to as those who are "killing American troops", and this is by way of chilling any idea of negotiating with them. The point is not that they are killing American troops, which is what resistance movements do, but rather that they need to be negotiated with.
What it is is flim-flam: Inundate the Americans with stories about the humanitarian efforts being exerted by our troops to save Iraqis from each other, and shut the hell up about the fact that the main struggle, against the domestic resistance, has been lost and the troops need to withdraw."