AC: How will the Iraqi elections go?

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ANDERSON COOPER: An extraordinary report out of Iraq that Sunni insurgents here are actually telling foreign terrorists, Al Qaeda in Iraq, not to get involved, not to interfere in Thursday's historic elections. We're joined now by CNN's -- by "TIME" magazine's, I should say -- maybe someday CNN's, Michael Ware.


COOPER: Insha'allah. Thanks very much for joining us. You spent a lot of time with these insurgents. Is this for real? Why would Sunni insurgents be telling Al Qaeda in Iraq, don't interfere with the elections?

WARE: Anderson, this is the two faces of this war. There's a homegrown insurgency, a war of liberation, if you will. And then there's the imported holy war, or terrorist war. And here we see them clash. The homegrown insurgents have a political agenda. They want to see a political dimension to the insurgency emerge. They've told their fighters, they've told their supporters, go and vote just like you did on October 15 for the referendum. And just like the referendum, they've been saying to Zarqawi's people, just sit down. For one day, sit down. So unlike the January election, during the referendum, Anderson, we saw not one Zarqawi attack or suicide bombing because he was told to back off.

COOPER: But, I mean a year ago in the January elections, they were talking about, you know, the streets running red with the blood of anyone who voted. Do the Sunni insurgents feel they made a mistake in doing that?

WARE: Well, as I was talking to one of their most senior strategists just yesterday -- this is a man very much within the inner circle of one of the most powerful factions -- it's a response to two things. One is he said, yes this is answering to the constituency, listening to our people, to our community who want to vote. But don't forget, the Baathists and the independent fighters, the Nationalists -- they were telling me back in 2003 that they saw that this was a two-track war with a political and a military front. They talked about Ho Chi Minh, Che Guevara, and they talked about Sinn Fein, very much like the political process in Northern Ireland.

COOPER: And so, I mean, there is this tension between the two -- I mean, for a long time -- I remember when I first came here, I was talking to you. They were talking about, you know, trying to drive a wedge between the nationalists and these foreign terrorist. I mean, is that still possible? Is there a tension? Is there a space between them?

WARE: I mean, this has been a marriage of inconvenience. It's very much odd bedfellows, secular Baathists and homegrown Iraqi nationalists working together with both foreign and Iraqi Islamists, who want to bring about a very different kind of society here in Iraq. However, they have a common enemy right now, so they are working together. This schism, this tension has always existed. But what we've seen is the Iraqification of Zarqawi's organization. As his foreign leaders have been killed or captured, Iraqis have risen up. And they find it much easier to talk to their old friends from the Republican Guard.

COOPER: So if the U.S. withdrew or, you know, to some extent, stepped back their forces, would that take away the fight from some of these nationalists insurgents?

WARE: Very much. The sole cause, their motivation, is to resist the occupation. And as the top Baathists have said, and as the top Iraqi Islamists have said, the association of Muslim scholars say, "give us a time table for withdrawal. Be genuine about your intent to support us and empower us and we will stand up to Zarqawi for you." U.S. military intelligence is looking for exactly this. This is why Ambassador Khalilzad and U.S. military intelligence says they are bringing back the Baath party because they are against Zarqawi and together they can root him out from Iraq, they believe.

COOPER: "TIME Magazine" Michael Ware. Michael, always good to talk to you.

WARE: Thank you.

COOPER: All right, stay safe.

He hustled over here. It's not an easy thing to do at this time in the morning. So we do appreciate it.