Monday, November 10, 2003

The so-called 'Iraqi Resistance'

Many have asked me about the 'Iraqi resistance'. Who are they? Where do they operate? What do they believe in? What do they wish to achieve? What do regular Iraqis think of them?

I doubt any Iraqi, or even American official, can answer these questions accurately. However I will attempt to give you a near answer based on what Iraqis think and from my own views as well.

I believe that 'resistance' is a loose term. Most resistance movements in history at least had ideologies and political agendas fueling them. A resistance cannot be arbitrary. Also resistance movements have always acted to win the hearts of the people they are supposedly fighting for. We can't call someone who sabotages his own country's resources and facilities and targets his own people as a 'freedom fighter'. These seem more like acts of revenge to me. Revenge against fellow countrymen for accepting their new gift of freedom and for 'collaborating' with the 'invaders. And making sure that Iraqis do not enjoy the fruits of their liberation from a fascist bloodsucking regime.

Another important point is that we evidently have various groups operating which rarely cross paths with the others:

1)Diehard Baathists and Saddam loyalists. I think this is the largest insurgent group. Operating mainly in the Sunni triangle north and west of Baghdad. Former Republican Guard, and security forces. Tribes which have largely benefited from the former regime. And which possess no other merit besides loyalty and slavery to it. Most of them are experienced in combat and guerilla warfare. Attacks carried out by these groups are recognizable. Mortar attacks, RPG ambushes, anti-aircraft attacks, explosive rigged cars, and IED's planted on highways and main roads. They may be broken into smaller groups with different names each operating in its own area with no coordination with others. They are also behind assasinations of 'collaborators', judges, university professors, municipal council members, and IP lieutenants. Acts of sabotage against oil pipelines, electricity cables, and other vital facilities. They are large on propaganda and cirulating rumours and conspiracy theories.

2)Local Islamic extremists and groups such as Ansar Al-Islam. Also not a force to be underestimated. Their attacks are less accurate and successful than the former. They are supported financially by foreign Arab extremists and sympathizers. They are thought to be behind the threats against schools and hospitals and Iraqi 'collaborators'. Call them Wahhabis, Salafees, etc.

3)Foreign infiltrators. They enter Iraq from neighbouring countries mainly from Syria and Saudi Arabia. Most of them young and brainwashed men from different Arab and Muslim countries who believe they are doing a great good in fighting the 'infidel' Americans. They obviously have some support inside Iraq, as it would be impossible for them to operate alone in a foreign country. They are the deadliest. They were responsible for the suicide attacks against the UN, Red Cross, and IP stations. Suicide bombings are their main form of attacks. Call them Al-Qaeda if you wish.

4)Individual acts of revenge against coalition forces fueled by tribal or religious humiliation. For example when a local tribal Sheikh's house is raided or when a local cleric is detained, many of their followers will feel offended and may carry out individual attacks, such as the Ammarah incident against the British and the attacks in Al-Sadr city, Najaf, and Karbala by Muqtada Al-Sadr's followers.

In my opinion each one of these groups act independently from the other. Each one is a problem. I believe that to counter the first group a little firmness is required such as what is going on in Tikrit right now. Isolating the area, house to house searching, and confiscating weapons from locals. Its not too late yet for such action. Securing the borders would prevent sneaking of Arab terrorists.

Iraqis reactions to attacks vary widely. Most are indifferent but lately the attacks against the IP stations and the threats against schools have largely changed that. Iraqis now openly show their disgust for such actions and this has also made them eager to report any suspicious individuals in their neighbourhoods. We have our fools such as the 'dancing peasants of Fallujah' as Alaa nicely put it, who show their glee whenever they come across a camera. And on many occasions , as I have told you earlier, Al-Jazeera and Al-Aribiyah deliberately encourage people to do so before rolling the cameras.