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Iraqi insurgency

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  • That the Iraqi insurgency is now self-sustaining was confirmed December 1, 2006, by John D. Negroponte, U.S. national intelligence director. "Violence between the Sunnis and Shia has become self-sustaining and has spread out to a wider range of ... groups and actors," Negroponte said. [1]
  • "The insurgency in Iraq is now self-sustaining financially, raising tens of millions of dollars a year from oil smuggling, kidnapping, counterfeiting, connivance by corrupt Islamic charities and other crimes that the Iraqi government and its American patrons have been largely unable to prevent, a classified United States government report has concluded."—John F. Burns and Kirk Semple, New York Times, November 26, 2006.
  • "New data reveal, surprisingly, that the vast majority of the Iraqi insurgents' attacks are still aimed not at Iraqi security forces or at civilians, but rather at U.S. and coalition troops. In other words, as much as was the case a year or two ago, the Iraqi insurgency is primarily an anti-occupation insurgency."—Fred Kaplan, Slate, February 9, 2006. (emphasis added).
  • "... insurgents have a political plan; no matter how brutal they may be, they see their violence as leading to a political change -- the government will be cast out to be replaced by a new government, typically themselves. Thus, they tend to create shadow directorates that mimic the functions of a government; they have spokespeople who explain their political goals; they try to seize territory to prove they can run it better than the current regime, solving for the people there whatever burning issue is driving the insurgency (land distribution, famine, whatever)." [2]
  • "'The postwar plan ... was designed to see that they were not able to destroy their oil wells, that they were not able to blow up their bridges, that they did not have massive humanitarian crisis with internally displaced people and refugees and food crisis, and that the war was conducted in a speedy way so that it would not run the risk of destabilizing neighboring countries,'" Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said October 26, 2004, implicitly admitting the Pentagon "had no specific plans for handling a widespread insurgency in the aftermath of the US-led invasion of Iraq, but still insisted US pre-war planning was 'good'." (emphasis added).

Portraying the Iraqi insurgency as a "monolith" "composed solely of Saddam Hussein's 'ex-loyalists' misses a myriad of groups and ideologies arrayed against U.S. occupation," according to Ahmed S. Hashim, professor of strategic studies at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, R.I., the Pacific News Service reported July 29, 2003.

"The insurgency in Iraq that is killing American soldiers daily," says Hashim, "has been incorrectly characterized by the Bush administration as acts of violence against American troops by former regime supporters. Although some ex-supporters of Saddam's rule are involved, the opposition is not a monolith. At least a dozen groups are carrying out attacks for a variety of reasons.

"Based on statements claiming responsibility for the attacks, the insurgents can be roughly divided into three groups. Even within each grouping, the organizations have different motives and goals.

  • "Regime loyalists who believe they have no option but to continue fighting, and who are convinced that the United States will tire long before them. They are trying to apply the experiences of other guerrilla/terrorist organizations -- such as the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas -- to their operations. They include: The General Command of the Armed Forces, Resistance and Liberation in Iraq, Popular Resistance for the Liberation of Iraq, Patriotic Front, Al 'Awdah (The Return), and Jihaz al-I'ilam al-siasi lil hizb al-Ba'th.
  • "Nationalist and patriotic individuals and insurgent groups who resent the U.S. presence and are angered by U.S. failure to restore law and order, and by U.S. operational methods perceived as deliberately humiliating to Iraqis and their honor. These individuals or groups rely heavily on kinship and tribal ties to provide them with shelter and succor as they plan and execute their operations. They include Iraq's Revolutionaries -- Al-Anbar Armed Brigades (Thuwwar al-'arak kata'ib al-anbar al-musallahah) and the Black Banner Organization (Munazzamat al-alam al-aswad), which has called for the sabotage of Iraq's oil industry.
  • "Islamists who have come out of the woodwork after decades of suppression by the Baathist regime. Brave though they may be -- and there was considerable evidence of this during the war itself -- many are amateurs. But they learn quickly and have the experiences of other Islamist organizations to help with their learning curve. They include: Al-Faruq Brigades, which refers to itself as the military arm of an Islamic resistance organization called the Islamic Movement in Iraq (Al-Harakah al-Islamiyyah fi al-arak); the Mujahideen of the Victorious Sect (Mujahideen al ta'ifa al-Mansoura); Mujahideen Battalions of the Salafi Group of Iraq (Kata'ib al mujahideen fi al-jama'ah al-salafiyah fi al-'arak); and the Jihad Brigades/Cells, which threatens to assassinate those who collaborate with the U.S. occupation.

"With so many motives and goals, no single strategy will stabilize this situation, and a military solution alone will never work. Political and social strategies must be coordinated with military operations if Iraq is to achieve social order. Measures that deal effectively with the ex-Baathists, for example, will not work with the religious oppositionists," Hashim said.

"Even among the religious opposition, philosophies and actions differ. Many Sunni Arabs are convinced that America is there to obliterate Iraq's identity and turn it into an economic colony. Some have chosen to confront these alleged U.S. machinations politically. Others have chosen the route of insurgency.

"The Shiite populace and clerics have shown a more subtle approach. At the national level, Shiite clerics express joy that the oppressive Saddam regime is gone, but are ambivalent about the U.S. presence in Iraq. The statements of senior Shiite clerics can essentially be summed up as, 'Thank you for getting rid of Saddam -- now please go.'"

"The insurgency lies -- at present -- somewhere between a gut-level resistance to the occupation and a classic guerrilla war," Hashim said.

Terrorist "Network"

Documents found December 14, 2003, at the capture of Saddam Hussein, revealed a "'structure that existed above the local cellular structure - call it a network,' [Army Brig. Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, commander of the 1st Armored Division] said during an interview with press traveling with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers. 'We now know how the cells are financed and how they are given broad general guidance.' ... The general said 10 to 14 of these cells have operated in Baghdad, and that the 1st Armored Division has been successful against six. 'The remaining challenge is about eight cells and that network that sits above them'," according to the American Forces Press Service.

"Killing Dissent"

"Three billion of our tax dollars will be funding paramilitary units to carry out targeted killings in Iraq. In his article for [January 2004]'s American Prospect, Robert Dreyfuss reports that the covert money will support U.S. efforts to create a lethal, and revenge-minded, Iraqi security force. Hidden in the $87 billion bill for Iraq passed by Congress last month was a provision to create a special unit made up of militiamen associated with Iraqi exile groups. Dreyfuss writes that officials are 'clearly worried about America's inability to put down the Iraqi insurgency with time to spare before November' of 2004. What leaves us particularly sickened is a quote from someone described as a 'neoconservative strategist' who Dreyfuss spoke to: 'It's time for no more Mr. Nice Guy,' he said. 'All those people shouting, Down with America! and dancing in the street when Americans are attacked? We have to kill them.'" --Tom Paine, December 18, 2003.

Insurgency Grows

The Iraqi insurgency is growing larger, more effective, Tom Lasseter and Jonathan S. Landay reported January 21, 2005 for Knight Ridder Newspapers:

"The United States is steadily losing ground to the Iraqi insurgency, according to every key military yardstick."
"All the trend lines we can identify are all in the wrong direction," said Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution, a Washington policy research organization. 'We are not winning, and the security trend lines could almost lead you to believe that we are losing.'
"At the close of 2003, U.S. commanders put the number of insurgents at 5,000. Earlier this month, Gen. Mohammed Abdullah Shahwani, the director of the Iraqi intelligence service, said there are 200,000 insurgents, including at least 40,000 hard-core fighters. The rest, he said, are part-time fighters and supporters who provide food, shelter, funds and intelligence."

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