Allied Forces Likely to Face Less Resistance in Postwar Iraq

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), February 24, 2003 | Go to article overview

Allied Forces Likely to Face Less Resistance in Postwar Iraq


Byline: Rowan Scarborough, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

U.S. occupying forces in a postwar Iraq are not likely to face a persistent guerrilla campaign like the one they are confronting in Afghanistan, officials say.

Administration officials liken the situation to postwar Serbia, where President Slobodan Milosevic lost power and a fairly sophisticated populace moved toward democracy. Allied troops enforcing peace in bordering Kosovo have encountered little resistance.

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, a leading hawk on Iraq, said there is a "fundamental difference" between Iraq's secular society and other Gulf nations' hard-line Muslim populations.

"We're seeing today how much the people of Poland and Central and Eastern Europe appreciate what the United States did to help liberate them from the tyranny of the Soviet Union," he said last week on National Public Radio.

"I think you're going to see even more of that sentiment in Iraq. There's not going to be the hostility. ... There simply won't be."

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said his troops will use force if necessary to make sure Iraq is not carved up into autonomous regions.

"We've made very clear to everybody that we intend, in the event that force is used, that that remain a single country, and we would intend to have forces in place to see that advantage was not taken of any temporary disorder that could conceivably occur in a conflict," he said last week.

Bush administration officials also are driving home another point: The United States will not take ownership of Iraq's lucrative oil facilities and reserves.

"If there's a war, the world will see that the United States will fulfill its administrative responsibilities, including regarding oil, transparently and honestly, respecting the property and other rights of the Iraqi state and people," Douglas Feith, undersecretary of defense for policy, told a congressional committee.

The U.S. war plan calls for seizing the fields around Kirkuk in the north and Basra in the south. But Pentagon officials privately acknowledge that if Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein decided to sabotage his most precious asset in the coming days, the United States could not stop him. It might cost up to $10 billion to rebuild the country's oil facilities, the administration says.

In Iraq, the Bush administration's plan is to purge the government of Saddam's Ba'ath Party hard-liners and bring together a government of Kurds, Sunnis and Shi'ites.

Despite the history of conflict between Sunnis and Shi'ites, officials say they believe the two rival Muslim groups can be persuaded to work together in Iraq. …

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