Iraq Insurgency Is No Monolith: U.S. Must Abandon Simplistic Approaches to Head off Further Deterioration

By Hashim, Ahmed | National Catholic Reporter, September 26, 2003 | Go to article overview

Iraq Insurgency Is No Monolith: U.S. Must Abandon Simplistic Approaches to Head off Further Deterioration


Hashim, Ahmed, National Catholic Reporter


The insurgency in Iraq that is killing American soldiers daily has been incorrectly characterized by the Bush administration as acts of violence against American troops by former regime supporters. Although some exsupporters of Saddam's rule are involved, the opposition is not a monolith. At least a dozen groups are carrying out attacks for a variety of reasons.

Based on statements claiming responsibility for the attacks, the insurgents can be roughly divided into three groups. Even within each grouping, the organizations have different motives and goals.

* Regime loyalists who believe they have no option but to continue fighting, and who are convinced that the United States will tire long before they do. They are trying to apply the experiences of other guerrilla/terrorist organizations--such as the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas--to their operations. They include: The General Command of the Armed Forces, Resistance and Liberation in Iraq, Popular Resistance for the Liberation of Iraq, Patriotic Front, al-Awdah (The Return), and Jihaz al-I'ilam al-siasi lil hizb al-Ba'th.

* Nationalist and patriotic individuals and insurgent groups who resent the U.S. presence and are angered by U.S. failure to restore law and order, and by U.S. operational methods perceived as deliberately humiliating to Iraqis and their honor. These individuals or groups rely heavily on kinship and tribal ties to provide them with shelter and succor as they plan and execute their operations. They include Iraq's Revolutionaries--Al-Anbar Armed Brigades and the Black Banner Organization, which has called for the sabotage of Iraq's oil industry.

* Islamists who have come out of the woodwork after decades of suppression by the Baathist regime. Brave though they may be--and there was considerable evidence of this during the war itself--many are amateurs. But they learn quickly and have the experiences of other Islamist organizations to help with their learning curve. They include: Al-Faruq Brigades, which refers to itself as the military arm of an Islamic resistance organization called the Islamic Movement in Iraq; the Mujahideen of the Victorious Sect; Mujahideen Battalions of the Salafi Group of Iraq; and the Jihad Brigades/Cells, which threaten to assassinate those who collaborate with the U.S. occupation.

With so many motives and goals, no single strategy will stabilize this situation, and a military solution alone will never work. …

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