Saturday, December 18, 2004

Who Are the Insurgents in Iraq?

The insurgency comprises three basic groups.

1. Disgruntled Ba'athists. These are the people who were in positions of power with Saddam Hussein. They are predominantly Sunni, but Sunnis represent only 20% of the Iraqi population. What percentage of this 20% are disgruntled enough to kill IP and ING and Multinational Forces?

What do they want? They want to return to power. However, if this were to occur somehow, the Kurds and the Shia would die in piles. Does anyone dispute this?

In many cases former Ba'athist military officers or mukhabarat are given control over a bunch of raw recruits, some of them local thugs, some of the foreign Arabs. Ghaith Abdul-Ahad captures the essence of one of these leaders of a mujahadin cell perfectly in a report from Fallujah:
One of the local muj cell leaders, Abu Tahrir ("father of liberation"), is complaining how part of the muj corps has deserted and joined the Americans. He is in his late 30s, overweight and a bit grim; a typical former mukhabarat officer who mixes bits of the Koran with chunks of nationalist and Ba'athist ranting.

2. Foreign fighters. These are the Jihadists led by Zarqawi and joined by other Arabs who simply want to kill Americans.

What do they want? They want democracry to fail in Iraq, plain and simple. They kill Iraqis walking on the street because it's infinitely easier to do than killing American and British soldiers and it creates at the same time excellent video propaganda for Al-Jazeera. As Zarqawi made very clear in that intercepted letter, he doesn't care in the least about Iraqis themselves. He wants Iraq to descend into chaos and he will kill as many Iraqis as possible to make this happen. His group also kills Multinational Forces when they can, but this undertaking is more difficult, so they tend to focus on just killing Iraqis.

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad has written several articles for the Guardian on the Muslim foreign fighters in Iraq:

"The only place I am going from here is to heaven." (November 11, 2004)
The man - tall, thin with a dark complexion, black eyes and a thin beard - arrived in Falluja six weeks ago. He spent a few days sharing a room with other fighters until they were distributed among the mujahideen units in the city. He was with a group of the Tawhid and Jihad stationed in the west of Falluja in the Jolan district where heavy fighting has been raging for the last two days.

"We are not here to liberate Iraq, we're here to fight the infidels." (November 9, 2004)
It became apparent that they were an odd bunch of people from different places and with different dreams.

There were two kinds of mujahideen bound together in a marriage of convenience. One kind, Arab fighters from the new generation of the jihad diaspora, were teachers, workers and students from across the Arab world feeling oppressed and alienated by the west; they came to Iraq with dreams of martyrdom.

The other kind, Iraqi fighters from Falluja, were fighting the army that occupied their country.

They were five Saudis - or the people of the peninsula, as they called themselves - three Tunisians and one Yemeni. The rest were Iraqis.

3. Nationalistic Iraqis. There are Iraqis like Khalid and Raed Jarrar who simply don't like the fact that the Coalition Forces, a group from "outside," as we hear ad infinitum from Raed, removed Saddam. I understand this to some extent. But why support the Ba'athists and Zarqawi? That puts the idea of "national feeling" on its head. The Ba'athists don't care about "national sentiment." They just want to RULE again, no matter what they have to do to capture power once again. And Zarqawi, as I said before, spends each and every day planning how he can kill more Iraqis.

I think this third group, the nationalistic Iraqis, is suffering from what we call "cognitive dissonance." You want to be proud of your country? Get involved in the political process and vote on January 20, I say. Supporting Ba'athists or terrorists is spitting on your country's future.

What do they want? While most Iraqis want to use this opportuntity to bring a stable democracy and prosperity to their country, this group simply wants to kill these people who removed Saddam and force them to leave their country. This group has NO plan for what would happen the day after the Mulitnational Forces left Iraq. If civil war erupted, I guess that they would be happy because there would be no "outside group" to get in the way of Iraqis killing Iraqis. Iraqis killing Iraqis would be acceptable. However, don't mention to them that their enemy Iran next door would love nothing more than an American retreat and Iraq torn apart by a civil war. Iraqis would soon have to deal with Mullahs who haven't forgotten that little 8-year war and the millions of dead Iranians by Saddam's army.

Also within this group we ought to consider Iraqis who are angered by perceived wrongs at the hands of the IP, ING, and Multinational Forces. How big this group is would be difficult to calculate, but there must be some Iraqis who simply want to exact vengeance because of a family memeber's death, even if that death occurred because an Al-Qaeda terrorist blasted their loved one apart.

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Okay, so I see these groups comprising the insurgency. Do the three groups work together? I guess to some extent they must. Is there something they all share? I don't know. I believe that if the Coalition Forces were to leave right now, most likely these three quickly take out their "long knives" and start carving up each other. You think the Kurds have forgotten what the Ba'athists in the Sunni Triangle have done to them over the years? Think again.

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Now it's YOUR turn. Do you agree? Disagree? Qualifications? Omissions?

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UPDATE: Just found this comprehensive summary of the insurgents in Iraq at Wikipedia. It's very good and backs up many of my basic divisions and observations.

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A Star from Mosul has put up her own summary of the insurgents. (HAT TIP: alan)

Interesting comments from Star's blog.

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