November 28, 2005
Know Thine Enemy
How can we tell the difference between foreign terrorists, militant Sunnis, and Shiite insurgents? My initial answer to that question is, “who cares?” If they are attacking us, they are our enemies. It doesn’t matter what name they call themselves.
However, our top military spokesman, commenting on the last week’s Iraq Reconciliation conference, tells us that we should understand the difference between these groups in order to know how to fight each type.
"We understand the capabilities, the vulnerabilities and the intentions of each group of the insurgency - the foreign fighters, the Iraqi rejectionists and the Saddamists," said Major-General Rick Lynch....
"The group in the middle, the Iraqi rejectionists - (which) includes the Shia rejectionists and the Sunni rejectionists - we believe that deliberate outreach will allow them to participate in the political process and allow them to become part of the solution and not part of the problem," he said.
In other words, we must separate the various types of Iraqi and foreign fighters and treat them differently. But treat them differently how, and why should we? What is the difference between a Sunni Iraqi setting an IED ambush of an American military convoy and Musab Zarqawi ordering a car-bombing of a Shiite marketplace?
In the Iraqi Reconciliation Conference in Cairo, which brought together Iraqis who support democracy and the new government and the rejectionists who still fight against it, the participants concluded that resistance against occupation is legitimate, but that terrorism is never acceptable:
Although resistance is a legitimate right for all people, terrorism does not represent legitimate resistance. Accordingly, we condemn terrorism and acts of violence, killing and kidnapping that target Iraqi citizens, civilian, humanitarian, governmental institutions, national wealth, places of worship and we call for confronting terrorism immediately. [Emphasis added]
Asked about this language, which clearly implies that violent resistance against Coalition troops is not terrorism, U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack seemed reluctant to deal with the issue:
"Although resistance is a legitimate right for all people, terrorism does not represent legitimate resistance...I think that, you know, inasmuch as this statement talks about the right -- the legitimate right to peaceful protest, peaceful expression of differences -- absolutely, the United States has no quarrel with that idea.
Mr. McCormack is dancing around the point: the statement does not say that only peaceful resistance is acceptable; it draws a distinction between resistance and terrorism.
So let me answer the question that McCormack ducked: resisting a foreign military occupation force is not an act of terrorism; it is an act of war. The small number of former Saddam supporters and other anti-American Iraqi militants still left are actually attempting, however ham-fistedly, to build a native "insurgency."
Since we are occupying for a good purpose and with the consent of the most legitimate government Iraq has had in recent memory, one can argue that these Saddamites are misguided. We still have every right to fight back against the resistance to protect our own interest (and our own men and women). But the Reconciliation statement is correct: this kind of resistance against an armed and deadly military force is not the same thing as blowing up innocent civilians. The merely misguided can be persuaded to resist peacefully, via the ballot box and in parliament (see Sadr On the Rise, As the Times Sinks to a New Low). The terrorists can only be killed or driven into the desert.
It's clear how native Iraqis resisting the Coalition troops have the support of many other Iraqis who hide them and scrounge food and ammunition. But what about the bloodthirsty foreign terrorists, led by Zarqawi -- the ones who specialize in murdering ordinary Iraqis? How can they be tolerated?
In order for foreign terrorists like al-Qaeda to operate in Iraq, they need local support. No matter what the MSM says, local Sunnis must be actively providing logistic and military support to al-Qaeda. Disrupting this relationship would deal a tremendous blow to the foreign terrorists' operation.
At first, Iraqis must have thought the foreign fighters were there to support the ex-Baathists, under the command of Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri, vice-president of Iraq and deputy chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council, the highest ranking Baathist still on the loose after Saddam Hussein was captured (al-Duri is reported to have died of leukemia on November 11th, 2005; but this has not yet been publicly confirmed by the Pentagon).
But as the tide of battle flowed, the Baathists withdrew from the field (to Syria, the other Baathist state, most likely), leaving the terrorists -- primarily Zarqawi's group al-Qaeda in Iraq -- in the driver's seat of the resistance. It seems very clear that as "resistance" more and more began to be synonymous with blowing up Iraqi Shia and occasionally Sunnis, rather than attacking Coalition forces, ordinary Iraqis began to be repelled by the vicious and indiscriminate butchery of their fellow citizens by the foreign terrorist organizations, led by Jordanian Zarqawi.
Thanks to the very successful attacks on al-Qaeda safe houses along the Syrian border and in Baghdad by Coalition and Iraqi forces, local support for the terrorists is waning; Arab culture does not encourage support for losers. Many of the recent attacks on terrorist safehouses were possible only because of tips received from local Sunni citizens, who clearly no longer support the foreign terrorists. Some Sunni tribes went so far as to actively fight against Zarqawi’s men.
This trend is so significant, even an America-hater like Juan Cole had to admit it:
[M]any Iraqi guerrillas are deeply dismayed at the al-Zarqawi group's tactic of targeting civilians and Shiites, and that significant numbers have deserted him to join the Iraqi group, The Islamic Army. Al-Zarqawi's "Qaeda in Mesopotamia" is angry about the desertions and refers to such Iraqis as "apostates." Nevertheless, The Islamic Army provides security to those who have left Zarqawi.
Iraqi insurgents have seen al-Qaeda being utterly defeated whenever they engage American or Iraqi government units. Everyone around the world now knows that the terrorists can do nothing aside from blowing up innocent civilians. The purely Iraqi insurgents, Saddamites and Shia, must have realized by now that they have no hope of winning militarily against the Americans; and the moment is rapidly approaching (if it hasn't already passed) where they have no hope even of defeating the Iraqi Army alone, even if we were to pull a John Murtha and "redeploy" out of Iraq immediately.
If we can convince the Sunni and Shiite insurgents (not the foreign terrorists) that the only way for them to have any kind of power at all is to join the political process, al-Qaeda will be further isolated in Iraq. Without the local support, they cannot possibly survive. They will be forced to flee Iraq as they fled Afghanistan when the Taliban fell, and as they fled Sudan before that.
So it seems we should care whom we are fighting against!
Hatched by Sachi on this day, November 28, 2005, at the time of 2:14 AM
TrackBack URL for this hissing: http://biglizards.net/mt3.36/earendiltrack.cgi/262
The following hissed in response by: matoko kusanagi
Sachi, i think Juan Cole's translation is not good. Dan Darling has a better one of what the Iraqis were saying.
... al-Hayat notes the fact that the Shiite delegation refused the initial draft which made a distinction between resistance and terrorism (as Bashar Asad has maintained in all his recent interviews, whether on CNN or in As-Safir). The initial draft would've declared "a distinction between terrorism and resistance, and the consideration of resistance as a legal right for people under occupation." Jawad al-Malki, the Shiite representative, threatened the withdrawal of the Shiites from the talks if this wasn't changed. He's quoted as having said: "acknowledging the resistance means dealing a blow to the legitimacy of the government which had asked the foreign troops to extend their mission in Iraq. How can we ask them to stay in the country and at the same time sanction their targeting?" This line has been echoed by Talabani and others in various recent statements. The final compromise formula said that while "resistance is a legal right for all peoples, however terrorism does not constitute legitimate resistance. As such, we condemn terrorism and the acts of violence and killing and kidnapping that target Iraqis and humane and civil institutions and the government and the national resources and religious places, and request they be fought immediately."
In context, targetting coalition forces requested by the legitimate Iraqi government is the same as targetting the government.
Arabic is even harder for me than japanese (smile).
Being an oral tradition languge the translations can be tricky--for example, gender is dependent on context AND inflection.
Altho Cole purports to speak arabic, he often gets it wrong. And he has bias. We don't get good translations from the media. They have bias, and they are not skilled.
I like the old italian word, translator/tradittore. Another meaning of tradittore is traiter, given that the best or only translators in the old days were defectors or captives that had turned.
The following hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist
i think that the mutual fear that the Sunni and Shia in Iraq have for each other is about to solve the problem during the December 15 elections. MSM has flooded Planet Earth with the negative aspects of failure, especially whilst they has been busy with such. The Arab, Muslim, and Islamic world had believed what Saddam and Osama were saying, after the disaster in Mog/Som (Blackhawk Down):
"America will never be able to place it's ground Troops on Foreign soil again."
The Arab, Muslim, and Islamic world now know that Saddam and Osama were both wrong...simple as that, and i don't care what American leftists think at that point. Yes, it has not been easy on our Ground Troops (Our "Boots"), especially after what they have gone thru, and continue to go thru from America's left. Our Allies in Japan, Australia, etc. now think that China could whip America in a War between the two. Claiming that our Ground Troops depend too much upon "Technology". Yeah, right...like some reporter with a camera, claiming that American "Boots" shoot wounded enemy. China has its own problems, like over 3/4ths are ready to revolt at any time, and many of them have weapons!!! "Shock and Awe" was not a joke, and the Chinese know it...all of them. Sure, if our Ground Troops faced 5,000,000 charging Chinese, they would probably lose, and yes...Bill Clinton sold a lot of our "Technology" to the Chinese, and got away with it; however, the Chinese face a revolt frpm their own population at any time. It would be an interesting War, considering that America has its own Communists, Socialists, and Muslims.
TV networks have programs about the destruction of America in 'Da Works, for 2006. America needs to be prunned, so Wars are needed...
The above hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist at November 28, 2005 5:16 PM
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