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[casi] The Counter-insurgency War in Iraq

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The Ongoing Counter-insurgency War in Iraq
- August 6, 03

A series of counter-insurgency offensives over the past six weeks by the US
military have turned central Iraq into a free-fire zone. While US casualties
are reported and are a source of our concern, the recipients of the overwhelming
US firepower used in the campaign are the Iraqi people. Many of the raids
involve heavily-armed US troops breaking into Iraqi homes in the middle of the
night. "The past six weeks, our patrols have gotten more aggressive, much more
frequent," says company commander from the US 4th Infantry Division, Healy,
"Instead of doing one house, for example we'll do a whole street."

Another routine aspect of these operations is the establishment of roadblocks
around the attack site, to cordon off the area so that anyone entering or
leaving will be identified and searched. The raid on Shiek Rabia Mohamed Habib's
home in Baghdad was part of the ongoing hunt for Saddam that US officials
point to as the measure of success in Iraq. At checkpoints set up around the
neighborhood on July 27th, 11 Iraqis were killed with heavy machine gun fire.
Iraqis are regularly killed, wounded and terrorized in these impromptu roadblocks,
weapons sweeps, house searches, and US kidnapping/assassination operations.

A July 28 Washington Post article gives us this alarming admission of US
troops involved in taking hostages in recent operations in central Iraq. "Col.
David Hogg, commander of the second brigade of the 4th Infantry Division, said
tougher methods are being used to gather intelligence. On Wednesday night, he
said, his troops picked up the wife and daughter of an Iraqi lieutenant general.
They left a note: "If you want your family released, turn yourself in." Such
tactics are justified, he said, because, "It's an intelligence operation with
detainees, and these people have info."

On June 18th, in an attempted assassination of Baath Party officials, a
convoy of trucks taking sheep to market in Syria was blown to smithereens along
with half of the small border town of Muger Addib. The attack organized by a US
special forces unit, Task Force 20, used an unmanned Predator drone to fire a
Hellfire missile, alongside a AC-130 gunship with its rapid fire 105mm cannon,
joined by fighter jets and attack helicopters and special force troops.
According to the New York Times reporter on the scene six days later, at least two
villagers, a mother and daughter were killed.At the Defense Department press
conference on the raid, Rumsfeld stated that neither Saddam Hussein, nor his
sons, nor any top Baath Party official were in the convoy. But several Syrian
border guards were wounded and held by US forces for interrogation. The US has
categorically refused to apologize for the attack. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld
said at the time "we need to allow some time so that people can sort through
what took place and then get back to us." A month later there is still no
accounting of how many were killed and who is responsible.

US Iraq War Strategy

Pentagon strategists plan to continue this "small but intense war" in central
Iraq. To continue offensive operations they intend to maintain and supplement
the 150,000 US troops in Iraq. US commanders are now projecting a one year
tour of duty for US troops in Iraq. At the recent Senate Foreign Relations
Committee hearings General Keane representing the Army's Chief of Staff described
two factors determining US troop deployment in Iraq:

"The two pacing items that involve US troops commitment is one, obviously,
the level of violence and security situation we're currently facing. We have got
to get that down. And the second thing is the involvement of multi-nationaql
forces, and also the Iraqis themselves, the civil defense forces that deputy
secretary (Wolfowitz) mentioned and also the Iraqi army and police."

What we see is a three-pronged strategy: (1) to train and deploy Iraqi police
forces and an army under US Central Command (CENTCOM), (2) to integrate
foreign armies into sharing the burdens of occupation, and (3) to negotiate within
the UN Security Council for a new resolution on Iraq that will allow France,
Germany, Russia, and India to bring troops into Iraq.

The US is intensively training new police units to relieve US troops from the
often deadly duties of occupation. But collaboration with US occupation
forces is not without significant risks in Iraq. Iraqi police often bear the brunt
of popular anger over US attacks. After the local townspeople destroyed the
police station in Fallujah the local police demanded US troops no longer
function out of the local police station. On August 4th US soldiers ambushed near
Khaldiyah retreated to the local police station. After it was vacated by US
troops an angry crowd burned it down.

Numerous foreign armies are being brought into Iraq to take up occupation
duties currently held by US soldiers. Italian troops have relieved US troops in
Nassiryah. US commanders have assigned a 7,000 Polish troops and their eastern
European NATO allies an entire region of Iraq designated the "Polish sector."
Now instead of just English-speaking troops running the country who don't
speak Arabic, there will be added Polish, Spanish (Spain, Honduras, and Nicaragua)
Czech, Danish, Korean (South), and Japanese-speaking troops unable to talk to
the population.

The leaders of these nation's sell the deployment of troops in Iraq as a
"humanitarian mission." While the Japanese Prime Minister insisted that Japanese
troops would only be sent to "non-combat areas" in Iraq, the Japanese Times
reports that the US has proposed Japanese troops be sent to Balal, "considered a
tough area due to ongoing attacks there on American soldiers." These troop
deployments are in fact vital to the Pentagon's perspective of freeing up more US
troops from exposed defensive positions, for use in the counter-insurgency
offensive in Iraq.

Besides the military contribution to the US war in Iraq, these troop
deployments are tremendous political asset to the US occupation of Iraq. Washington’s
success in convincing (or more accurately as in the case of Poland at least,
bribing) the leaders of other nations to join the occupation pits the people of
Iraq not just against the US invaders, but now against a broad array of
"international peacekeepers." Secretary of State Powell is working on crafting a
new United Nations Security Council resolution that will pave the way for
Russia, France, Germany and the India to bring in their troops. This effort to
establish a new United Nations consensus supporting the US occupation of Iraq will
continue the established record of the UN betraying of the sovereign rights of
the Iraqi people. As in the 12 years of the United Nations sanctions, the
whole world once again lines up against the people of Iraq. Who will stand up to
challenge the rape of Iraq when all of the "civilized" nations of the world
are now complicit in the crime?

A long, hot, bloody summer in Iraq

A July 31 Reuters article provides some insights into the thinking of
Pentagon occupation strategists. They quote "foreign policy and security expert"
Andrew Denison who predicts the US public is willing to accept a steady stream of
US casualties. He says, "A long, hot, bloody summer may be acceptable."
Banking on a lack of opposition within the US he calculates, "You could have a rule
of thumb of six months a thousand deaths. I think there is a reservoir of
patience, a willingness to see this through." The Washington Post quotes senior US
Central Command official promising victory is at hand if they can just
continue the offensive. "I think we're at the hump... I think we could be over the
hump fairly quickly"" -- possibly within a few months, he added." Of course
this gory think-tank calculus is only a projection of US military losses. Here
again, the cost paid by the Iraqi people, those on the receiving end of US
firepower, does not even merit consideration.

In the same vein the Washington Post article reports combat operations in
Iraq over the past six weeks conducted primarily by the US Army's 4th Infantry
Division resulted in 39 US soldiers killed and US military officials claiming to
have killed "more than 300 Iraqi fighters." The article typifies US press
coverage of the war by neglecting to mention the number of non-combatant Iraqis
killed in the US military operations.

Two final points from the July 29, Senate Foreign Relations hearings

The US is to fund ethnic relocation program in northern Iraq. Responding to
Senator Biden's questions about the cost of the occupation Assistant Secretary
of Defense Wolfowitz talked about the need for special funding in Iraq. He
makes a point of motivating funds for the "de-Arabization" of northern Iraq.

"...up north, one of the big issues. the so-called de-Arabization. A lot of
Kurds and some Turks were moved out of their homes in a kind of slow motion
ethnic cleansing and Arabs were moved in. The Arabs would be happy to leave but
it's going to take some money and some legal effort to do that. We'd like to
get that started more quickly than was originally planned."

And to give you a flavor of the proceedings, listen to a leading Democrat of
the US Senate, Delaware's Joseph Biden’s concluding remarks to Pentagon and
administration officials.

"We can do this. We can win this. We can win the peace. But you better start
to tell the American people now, or their not going to be around. They're not
going to be around. They are going to be asking to bring the boys and girls
home, which would be a tragic mistake. So level with them. Billions of dollars,
tens of thousands of troops, I'll vote for it, I'll support it, I'll stay with

Bob Allen
Philadelphia Pa

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