Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Michael Yon on the Enemies of Iraq

Michael Yon describes the enemies of Iraq in a dispatch from Mosul.
In Mosul, the enemy has two main faces: The Former Regime Elements (FRE), and the extremists. The extremists here in Mosul can be divided into five groups—more or less—one of which would be the local chapter claiming affiliation with the so-called Al-Queda gang.

The goals of the FRE and the extremist gangs are at stunning variance. In fact, they mostly hate each other, often kill one another, and work together only as needed. If the Coalition and new Iraqi government were not here, conveniently located as a central target, the FRE and other terrorists would almost certainly be at war with each other.

The main goal of the FRE is simple: Under the former regime, they were in charge. They want to be in charge again. In Saddam Hussein's regime, the Cynic's Golden Rule—"He who has the gold, makes the rules"—worked both ways: "He who makes the rules gets all the gold." The FRE bandits made the rules and controlled the gold. They have an understandable nostalgia for the good old days. They liked being in charge. They despise the prospect of people they once persecuted, such as the Kurds, suddenly acquiring any voice whatsoever. It’s not as if the FRE are totally disenfranchised, but more that they are no longer in complete control.


Of the two groups, the more intractable and irrational enemy wraps their rebellion in a flag of fundamentalist fervor. Although the press routinely lumps all of these similar groups under the banner "Al-Queda" (whatever that really is) there are actually five main extremist groups operating in Mosul. They have common ground. Some members seek fulfillment in apocalyptic visions of a world at war, wherein everybody except them—or even including them—dies. In other cases they see the war shaping a new world, one that is entirely Islamic. The word "extremist" is not an overstatement for them.

These extremists are irrational, dangerous, often highly emotional, and cannot be trusted with large weapons. Every day, they kill innocent people in Iraq. The FRE and most of the Iraqis tend to hate the extremists, realizing that if the Coalition were to leave, they would face the full wrath of these fanatics alone.
If you click on the title of Michael's blog entry, you can watch a video of a failed IED attack.


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