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Friday, July 09, 2004

"Insurgency" bigger than thought

Guess what? There are huge numbers of people in the "insurgency" in Iraq (doesn't that word somehow suggest that they don't belong there, as if US troops had any right to be there?), and most of them are Iraqis.
"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 military official, who has logged thousands of miles driving around Iraq to meet with insurgents or their representatives, said a skillful Iraqi government could co-opt some of the guerrillas and reconcile with the leaders instead of fighting them.

"I generally like a lot of these guys," he said. "We know who the key people are in all the different cities, and generally how they operate. The problem is getting actionable information so you can either attack them, arrest them or engage them."
Hmmm. Engagement, the last option. Still, it's surprising that a U.S. military official would say he likes a lot of the insurgents. Not surprising that he spoke on condition of anonymity.

And there's this from the article:
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.
That makes my conjecture of 50,000 Iraqis killed in the war seem believable, especially counting the practically defenseless soldiers killed by bombing at the start of the war. Has anybody dug up those mass graves yet?

More from the article:
Most of the insurgents are fighting for a bigger role in a secular society, not a Taliban-like Islamic state, the military official said. Almost all the guerrillas are Iraqis, even those launching some of the devastating car bombings normally blamed on foreigners -- usually al-Zarqawi.

The official said many car bombings bore the "tradecraft" of Saddam's former secret police and were aimed at intimidating Iraq's new security services.

Many in the U.S. intelligence community have been making similar points, but have encountered political opposition from the Bush administration, a State Department official in Washington said, also speaking on condition of anonymity.

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."
It has been suspected by many lefty bloggers (Michelle in particular) that Zarqawi, having lost a leg in Afghanistan and quite possibly being dead, is just being used as a distraction--a way to fire up the freepers, someone to blame the failures on, an excuse for continuing to bomb the crap out of Fallujah. Even though the probably-late Zarqawi's ties to Osama and especially Saddam are shaky, it doesn't matter to Cheney and the freepers. They were told that Zarqawi beheaded Nick Berg, and they're willing to okay any number of atrocities as retribution for that allegation.