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[casi-analysis] IPO's Iraq News Analysis: Nov 19, 2004

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IPO's Iraq News Analysis

By Yasser Alaskary & Sama Hadad
November 19, 2004

Solving Iraq's Security Riddle

There is growing evidence that the core of the insurgency is almost purely Baathist:

1. The Fallujah experience

Prior to the operation in Fallujah, it was generally believed that the majority of the insurgent 
leadership were foreign Arab Salafi extremists. However, this is now in question. Arab Salafi 
extremists, like those associated with the militant Abo Musab Al-Zarqawi, explicitly seek out 
'martyrdom' as their victory. On the other hand, Baathists have no interest in being killed and 
every interest in defeating the new Iraqi government and wearing out the US-led coalition into 
withdrawal. The sheer ease with which US and Iraqi forces overran Fallujah indicates that most 
insurgents had left the city. Such a move is not characteristic of Salafi extremists who would have 
relished a final battle against their perceived enemy. It is, however, characteristic of a 
Baathist-led insurgency that does not want to face the US at its time of choosing but would rather 
slip away and attack at a time of their choosing.

2. Baathist were not defeated

Policy makers would do well to remember that whilst the Baathist regime lost the war, it was never 
defeated. The core of the Baath Party, who made up the dozens of security organizations and local 
networks trusted by Saddam Hussein, were concentrated in central Iraq. While Saddam's regime threw 
thousands of foot-soldiers to the south to slow down the advancement of the coalition, the 
Baathists never fought once the coalition reached central Iraq. In the city of Ramadi, a bastion 
for the Baath Party, not a single bullet was fired - the Baathists simply melted away amongst the 
civilian population. The failure of the coalition governments to recognize this danger has allowed 
these Baathists to lead the insurgency: planning, organizing, and coordinating terrorist activity 
while using the same 'Islamic' propaganda as Saddam did to lure in militants to carry out the 
suicide bombings and their other dirty work.

3. The Kurdish phenomenon

Furthermore, every Iraqi city has suffered numerous suicide bombings, explosions and terrorist 
acts, except for those located in the former Kurdish safe-haven. A foreign terrorist does not have 
any preference as to where he carries out his attack as he is foreign to all regions of Iraq - so 
why then is there such a geographic phenomenon? Some argue that this is because the foreign 
terrorists cannot find any sanctuary in the former safe-haven region, but this is a flawed 
assumption. There are Salafi Kurdish groups based in these regions and they would be more than 
willing to provide automatic shelter and help to their ideological brothers. In contrast, external 
Arab terrorist are very unlikely to find any sanctuary in many Shia cities yet such cities have not 
been spared from insurgent activity. Therefore, the presumption that the insurgency is at its core 
made up of foreign Arab Salafi extremists cannot explain the discrepancy between the former Kurdish 
safe-haven and the rest of Iraq. However, this phenomenon can be easily explained if we assume the 
insurgency is Baathist at its core. The Baath regime of Saddam have been excluded from the Kurdish 
safe-haven since 1991, they no longer have a working knowledge of the area, they lack the Baath 
network which exists in the rest of Iraq, and are therefore unable to carry out any operations in 
this region.

Policy Strategy

With the evidence pointing to a Baathist-led insurgency, most likely comprising of former members 
of Saddam's security services and local Baathist leaders concentrated in what is called the Sunni 
triangle (which would be more appropriately named the Baathist triangle), there must be a clear 
strategy to finally defeat the Baathists if security is to be restored. This can be done by:

  1.. Stopping the process of re-Baathification. Why it should come as a surprise that the new 
Iraqi security forces continue to be 'infiltrated' when Baathists are actively recruited and 
reinstated in top-level positions is staggering. Building Iraq's security around the people who 
wish to destroy it is sheer stupidity and dangerously incompetent. Furthermore, this process has 
only served to alienate those who suffered under the Baath regime, especially amongst the Shia and 
Kurds, and has done nothing to pacify or appease non-Baathist Sunnis.
  2.. Actively rounding up any 'former' Baathists associated with Saddam's security forces and 
local Baathist ring-leaders. For the first few months after the war, when most Baathists had fled 
their neighbourhoods and were in hiding, the security situation was remarkably calm. When they 
found they were not being hunted, they grew in confidence and began to launch attacks. There has 
been a sustained upsurge in terrorist activity since then, dramatically increasing after 
re-Baathification was launched in the summer. We should have them on the run, not giving them the 
freedom and time to plan and organize more terror. They should be living in fear of being arrested, 
not inflicting fear on the people of Iraq.
  3.. Reinvigorate the process of de-Baathification. The Baath Party has not been defeated by the 
war as many of its key members are still in positions of power, helping their 'comrades' on the 
outside (see the IPO's November 1, 2004 analysis for examples of this).
Before an enemy can be defeated, it must be identified. The US-led coalition and the Interim Iraqi 
Government can continue to convince themselves that the insurgency is not Baathist at its core; 
they can continue with the failed process of re-Baathification. However, the Fallujah phenomenon 
will be repeated again and again and Iraq's security will spiral even more out of control and 
ultimately innocent Iraqis will pay the price.

The can find this page online at:

News Analysis brought to you by the Iraqi Prospect Organisation -
The Iraqi Prospect Organisation is a network of young Iraqi men and women promoting democratic 
values in Iraq.

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