"At our meeting it was clear that just as President Bush and his advisors underestimated the strength and resolve of the insurgency, al-Dhari and his colleagues miscalculated the willingness of the US both to absorb significant casualties and to inflict a much higher toll on Iraqis in order to remain in the country. As troublingly evident was their belief that they could control the foreign jihadis streaming into the country and use them as a tool in their struggle against the United States.
"They were dead wrong. Though they share a similar conservative theological orientation to Iraq's Sunni religious leadership, the military and ideological leaders of the foreign jihadis saw Iraq as merely a battle ground in a larger war. In fact, they were the ones playing al-Dhari and other Iraqi Sunni leaders; using their support as cover to pursue an agenda that most Iraqi Sunnis didn't share: a holy war not just against America and the West, but against Iraq's majority Shi'i population as well.
"I cannot imagine that sitting in his office almost a year and a half ago al-Dhari imagined, let alone would have supported, the almost daily carnage against Shii Iraqis fomented in large measure by the global jihadis and their ideologues. Yes, some Iraqi Sunnis, perhaps including he, were willing to deploy internecine violence as a tactic to maintain a semblance of their Saddam-era privileges. But al-Dhari--like most every Iraqi religious leader I met, Sunni or Shi'i--went out of his way stress his desire for Sunni-Shi'i unity; (the general view of the Kurds, however, was much more suspicious, and even hostile)."
Read the whole post, and note also the further point that the sectarian conflict we're seeing develop is in large part a creation of the politics of post-Saddam Iraq rather than the emergence of a timeless suppressed enmity.