Thursday, July 08, 2004

It's Not Our Problem Anymore . . .  

. . . since Iraq is liberated and we've handed over sovereignty and the press no longer has any particular reason to give a monkey's ass, but in case you haven't read all the way back to page A19 yet, five U.S. soldiers had an Appointment in Samarra today.

And conditions on the ground will be slow to improve as long as American troops are in charge of security, mainly because the insurgency is rather more unwieldy than the Bush administration has thus far been willing to admit. Military officials now concede that the guerrilla forces, including part-timers, could number 20,000 or more -- and despite the standard U.S. line, they're mostly local:
"We're not at the forefront of a jihadist war here," said a U.S. military official in Baghdad, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The official and others told The Associated Press the guerrillas have enough popular support among nationalist Iraqis angered by the presence of U.S. troops that they cannot be militarily defeated . . . .

Estimates of the insurgents' manpower tend to be too low. Last week, a former coalition official said 4,000 to 5,000 Baathists form the core of the insurgency, with other attacks committed by a couple hundred supporters of Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and hundreds of other foreign fighters.

Anthony Cordesman, an Iraq analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the figure of 5,000 insurgents "was never more than a wag and is now clearly ridiculous" . . . .

One hint that the number is larger is the sheer volume of suspected insurgents — 22,000 — who have cycled through U.S.-run prisons. Most have been released. And in April alone, U.S. forces killed as many as 4,000 people, the military official said, including Sunni insurgents and Shiite militiamen fighting under the banner of a radical cleric . . . .

Civilian analysts generally agreed, saying U.S. and Iraqi officials have long overemphasized the roles of foreign fighters and Muslim extremists.

Such positions support the Bush administration's view that the insurgency is linked to the war on terror. A closer examination paints most insurgents as secular Iraqis angry at the presence of U.S. and other foreign troops.

"Too much U.S. analysis is fixated on terms like 'jihadist,' just as it almost mindlessly tries to tie everything to (Osama) bin Laden," Cordesman said. "Every public opinion poll in Iraq ... supports the nationalist character of what is happening."

Many guerrillas are motivated by Islam in the same way religion motivates American soldiers, who also tend to pray more when they're at war, the U.S. military official said.
(Link courtesy of Zemblan patriot J.D.)

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