Iraq: April 28, 2003

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U.S. administrator Jay Garner is using the techniques that worked for him in the 1990s when he brought stability and peace to Kurdish dominated northern Iraq. Garner has met with Iraqi professionals and religious leaders to get a sense of who he can depend on to help run Iraq. He is putting the government ministries back in business, using several hundred carefully selected Iraqi exiles who have been organized and trained to oversee local Iraqis. Garner expects to have these ministries functioning before the middle of May. Today, several hundred Iraqis have been invited to meet with U.S. administrator Jay Garner to discuss the transition to an Iraqi government. Garner used this technique successfully to establish local governments in northern Iraq during the 1990s. Unfortunately, this resulted in two Kurdish factions establishing separate governments in the north. The rest of Iraq is also full of armed factions who are not eager to give up their newly rediscovered independence. This is an old problem in Iraq. The Turks had to deal with it for centuries, the British had to put down the various armed militias in the 1920s. The monarchy established in the 1930s made deals with many factions, allowing autonomy in return for relative peace. During the 1940s, when the oil money began coming in, peace could be bought as well. But when the army took over in 1958, fear and force replaced gifts and autonomy as a way to control the factions. The military dictatorship is gone, and the militias want to go back to gifts and local freedoms in return for peace. Garner is determined to get everyone talking and find out who wants what, and then make deals. 

Among the most frequently looted items in Iraq was guns. Police and army armories were looted, and weapons dropped by deserting soldiers were quickly picked up by local civilians. Attempts to disarm civilians usually yields heavy weapons (large caliber machine-guns and mortars), but misses AK-47s, pistols and RPGs. These are kept by civilians mostly for self defense, but also for armed robbery and political intimidation.

The American interrogations of captured Saddam henchman will produce pieces for a large jigsaw puzzle. In any police state, there is no one, except the top guy, who knows everything. And all the underlings have learned to survive by not asking too many questions. The interrogations, plus the material being pulled out of government offices and private homes will probably confirm lots of things long suspected. Like some connections with Al Qaeda. It's been known for decades that Saddam was always eager to do favors for terrorist groups. There was little downside in doing this. On the up side, this made it less likely any of these terrorists  would attempt attacks against Saddam, it helped make Saddam a hero in the Arab world for protecting Arab "freedom fighters" and gave Saddam the opportunity to hire some of these thugs for jobs he wanted done. Baghdad was always known as a sanctuary for terrorists on the run. Make it to Iraq and you were safe from the Mossad, MI6 or CIA. 

Making secret deals with France, China, Russia and other nations has also been long suspected, and now the documents are starting to show up. Most of this stuff is actually fairly common diplomatic practice. If you want to cozy up to another nation, slip them some high quality information about what other heads of state are saying about them. The U.S. has long been the master at this, because the American intelligence operations are the largest and manage to gather in the largest quantity of goodies. What would be startling is if the French gave Iraq any military secrets. France has access to lots of NATO military secrets and it has long been a professional courtesy for the U.S. to exchange key information on weapons with allies. It does not appear that France crossed that line in its dealings with Iraq. But if they did, and did something like give the Iraqis information on American electronic warfare equipment, there would be long term negative consequences for French-American military cooperation.


 

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