Iraq: October 25, 2004

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Saddam Husseins Baath Party is one of four groups fighting  for control of Iraq. The other three are the government, backed by coalition troops, al Qaeda and Shia religious leaders. Al Qaeda is on a mission from God to expel infidels from Islamic countries, and unite the Moslem world, and eventually the entire planet, under Islamic law and the rule of religious leaders. This is considered a long shot, even for just Iraq. The current government is a temporary arrangement, to be replaced, in the next year, by a new one selected by the Iraqi people. The Shia religious leaders, knowing they are better respected than any politicians, and that Shia Arabs comprise 60 percent of the population, feel that they can take power via elections. The current government wants to get everyone involved in an elected government. Their most dangerous opponents are the Sunni Arab radicals represented by the Baath Party gangs, who have an alliance-of-convenience with al Qaeda. The Baath Party crew is well trained, well led, well armed and well financed, at least by Iraqi standards. These are mainly the people who kept Saddam in power for decades. They were Saddams enforcers.

In early 2003, Saddam Husseins enforcers were spread throughout Iraq. These guys were the members of the secret police, intelligence agencies and various paramilitary organizations that Saddam used to terrorize the Iraqi population, and kill anyone who posed a threat to him domination of the country. Saddam trusted no one, and kept moving key people around. He himself moved constantly. Iraq, back then, was called The Republic of Fear.

During the April, 2003 invasion, Saddams enforcers began to flee back to the Sunni Arab homeland, north and west of Baghdad. Those that didnt flee at the sight of advancing American troops, soon left when they realized that the Shia Arabs and Kurds were now hunting down enforcers. By the end of 2003, nearly all of  Saddams thugs were back in places like Fallujah. There, tribal chiefs, long on Saddams payroll, soon found themselves in the company of many heavily armed Saddam supporters. Guess who started calling the shots? The Baath Party had a plan for what to do if the country were overrun and occupied by an enemy (most likely Iran, but the United States was a possibility as well.) Baath had money, and people who knew how to do terror. Baath Party operators had been working with criminal gangs, running criminal operations (officially sanctioned, or on the side) and terrorizing the population for decades. The Baath people also knew they had an edge over the Americans, as Baath could, and had, done whatever they wanted to get their way. The Americans, for all their nifty weapons and gadgets, had to operate according to rules of conduct. American troops could not kidnap people to get their children or siblings to carry out attacks. The Americans could not summarily execute anyone who failed in a mission, or refused to do what was asked. The Americans couldnt do a lot of things that the Baath thugs could. The Baath Party enforcers still kill those who oppose them, including fifty Iraqi army recruits caught on Sunni Arab territory while going home on leave over the weekend. 

Moreover, the Moslem world, and many European nations, are praising the Baath thugs as insurgents and freedom fighters. So Baath thought they had a good chance of getting back into power. If they could terrorize enough Iraqis, the Americans would get discouraged and leave. Sure it was hard, and often suicidal, to kill Americans, but there were plenty of Iraqis to go after, and it was Iraqi hearts and minds Baath wanted to control. Baath and al Qaeda both believe that terror cannot fail, even though it often has.

But the Baath Party plan didnt work exactly as expected. The Americans were aggressive recruiting and training new Iraqi security forces. This had to be done from scratch, since no one but Saddam loyalists worked security while Saddam was in power, and all those people were Sunni Arabs whose loyalty was now questionable. But the new government, and coalition police and security experts, persevered. Trying to work out deals with the tribal chiefs didnt work, mainly because Baath and al Qaeda threatened to kill any chief that made peace with the government. So the government began to shut down the little Fallujahs around Baghdad. This was good practice for the Iraqi troops and police. The Iraqis would need all the practice they could get before taking on Fallujah, for thats where those who escaped the Iraqi dragnet, in places like Samarra and many other smaller towns, run to. While the Iraqi and American units flush the thugs out, Fallujah itself is being hit with smart bombs and raids in the suburbs by ground troops. 

Sometime before the end of the year, Fallujah will fall, and the Baath Party enforcers, and the al Qaeda terrorists will have to scatter. That will make the bad guys more vulnerable, and less effective. That, of course, is the objective.


 

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