US fights Iraq fire with
KARACHI - With the Iraqi
resistance showing no signs of wavering and
extending its roots deep into the population, the
US has realized that to counter this threat it
must change its approach.
Times Online has learned that the US, instead of
training up a regular
professional Iraqi army, will create what in
effect will be
under US central command, to take the militias
of the resistance on at their own game.
The Iraqi resistance against the presence
of foreign forces in the country has had many
faces. Initially, the ousted Ba'ath Party's
security committee, members of the Iraqi military
and para-military forces were the main drivers.
Later, after many of the top brass were
arrested and others were forced to flee, many to
Syria - including Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri (there
are doubts that the former No 2 in Saddam
Hussein's regime died while in Syria) - the
resistance lost its central command. Various
Islamic groups filled the vacuum, and they have
dominated the resistance ever since.
the meantime, various groups, including former
communists, members of the Ba'ath Party and even
those who were against the Saddam regime,
organized themselves in different European
countries. These groups played an important role
in adding a political face to the resistance: they
sent representatives to various Arab countries and
finally succeeded in coordinating their activities
with those in the field in Iraq.
of the so-called Higher Committee for National
Forces (a grouping of Iraqi resistance bodies)
and the 16th Arab National Congress held in
Algiers played a pivotal role in building consensus
among various Iraqi communist, Islamic, Ba'athist
and nationalist groups on several issues,
such as the right of Iraqis to defend themselves
against foreign aggression and imperialism,
and the right of Iraq to demand a
political process untainted by occupation and
which reflects the uninhibited will of the Iraqi
people for a pluralistic and democratic Iraq.
The groups also
condemned the continued occupation of Iraq and the
establishment of any permanent US bases in
the country, the privatization of the Iraqi
economy and foreign corporations' unrestricted
access to Iraq's resources.
common ground, the central command of the
resistance reorganized its activities, a key to
which was merging mohallah-level
(street-level) Islamic groups scattered in their
hundreds across Iraq to work toward a common goal
- defeating the occupation. In turn, these
militias would co-opt common folk into their
struggle, so that, literally, the streets would be
alive with resistance.
Aware of this
development, the US has accepted that no
conventional military force can cope with such a
resistance, and therefore similar
mohallah-level combat forces are needed.
According to Asia Times Online contacts,
these US-backed militias will comprise three main
segments - former Kurdish peshmerga
(paramilitaries), former members of the Badr
Brigade and those former members of the Ba'ath
Party and the Iraqi army who were part of the
Saddam regime but who have now thrown in their lot
with the new Iraqi government.
segments have already been equipped with low- and
medium-level weapons purchased from various
countries, including Pakistan. Military analysts
believe the US military in Iraq will use the Kurd
and Shi'ite militias to quell the resistance in
central and northern Iraq, while in the south the
former Ba'athists and old-guard Iraqi soldiers
will be used against anti-US Shi'ite groups.
To date, the Iraqi army has
only been supplied with small arms - air
and armored forces are still in the hands of the
US Army - and there is no indication that the US
will hand over any of this, or high-tech
equipment, to the Iraqis.
Iraq's future now seems to be in the hands of
militias, under the command of the US on the one side
and militias under the command of the resistance on
the other; reminiscent of wartime Lebanon and
Syed Saleem Shahzad,
Bureau Chief, Pakistan, Asia Times Online. He can
be reached at [email protected]
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