As far as I know, no one has welcomed this declaration of Zarqawi; it was strongly condemned by the Sheat and their clerics and politicians and even the association of Muslim scholars showed disagreement with this new strategy of Zarqawi, yet their announcement did not meet the requirements of the critical situation and their words were like a shy slap on Zarqawi's hand and certainly failed to ease the anger and worries of the Sheat who want to see the Sunni clerics declare Zarqawi out of Islam (an infidel).
On the other hand, Iraqi militant groups like the Islamic army and the army of Mohammed and a few other groups were more direct in their statements reported by Azzaman:
The goal of the resistance is striking the occupiers and their agents and collaborators and the calls for killing every Sheat is a fire that will burn the whole country with its Sunni and Sheat people
The resistance doesn't target any Iraqi depending on his sect or race; the targets are those who cooperate with the occupier…
Sistani as expected called for restraint and several local and regional news sources reported that he (or his office) gave a statement in which Sheat were asked to avoid violence "even if half of the Sheat got killed".
Some of my friends made fun of Zarqawi and his declaration of war "So? Now he forgot all about America and Israel, blah blah blah and the Sheat became his sole enemy! I don't think this was Al-Qaeda's original slogan a few years ago!" said one of them and actually the observation is correct but the point is why? Why is this change in priorities and in targets?
When Al-Qaeda first came to Iraq they claimed that they were fighting to liberate this part of "Islamic land" from the "infidels" and they appointed themselves as representatives and guardians of Iraq and its people.
But now, after the Kurds and the Sheat chose their representatives, Al-Qaeda was left with only one segment to represent; that is the Sunni whom Al-Qaeda is now pretending to be defending and avenging from the atrocities of the government but this is also a big lie no doubt because Al-Qaeda had also warned the Sunni from joining the elections and the political process as a whole. Why? Because more Sunni people are expressing their will to participate in the next elections and many observers, polls and surveys expect a 80% turnout among the Sunni in the coming steps of the process; these are the October referendum and the December elections.
Such a high turnout will eventually bring legitimate representatives for the Sunni population and that's what Al-Qeada doesn't want to see happen because there will be no one left to defend or fight for, no pretext for their war and Al-Qaeda will be farther apart from the Sunni militant groups that once were their close allies.
This war declared by Al-Qaeda is frankly a war on elections, and the plan is to stop the elections from taking place at any cost and since confronting the American military has not brought any significant success, Zarqawi is switching to plan B, that is to provoke civil war in Iraq between the Sunni and the Sheat.
This is going to be a tough test for the people of Iraq; a test for their will to stay united and a test for their ability to reason out things and how are they going to respond to this type of challenges.
The next three months will be stressful and decisive for Iraqis and I really believe that Iraqi's future can be foreseen through the developments of these 90 day.
These 90 days will either announce the total collapse of this country or it will bring a breakthrough that puts Iraq firmly on the right track.
I see better chances for the latter possibility but the former still worries me.