Iraqi insurgency

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The Iraq resistance movement is the armed and peaceful resistance by diverse groups to the coalition occupation of Iraq. These groups may also resist the newly created Iraqi government. The fighting appears both as a resistance to occupation, as well as a civil war in Iraq among the diverse groups. Asymmetric warfare is being waged by these rebels, with assistance from non-governmental organizations. The Iraqi insurgency has led to numerous human rights violations.[1]

The insurgency began shortly after the 2003 coalition Invasion of Iraq and before the establishment of a new sovereign Iraqi government. In the early stages of the Coalition Occupation, insurgents primarily targeted coalition forces and the interim government (eg., the Coalition Provisional Authority) formed under the occupation. As the security situation within Iraq evolved, insurgent forces gradually shifted their focus to targeting rival sectarian and political factions. Many militant attacks have been directed at the police and Military forces of the new Iraqi government. They have continued during the transitional reconstruction of Iraq as the new Iraqi government has developed under the auspices of the United Nations. As is the case with most guerillia wars, civilians on all sides bear the brunt of the violence.

According to a February-March 2007 poll, 51% of the Iraqi population approve of the attacks on Coalition forces[2]. When broken down along sectarian lines, over 90% of the Sunni minority, which used to hold power during the Saddam Hussein regime, approve of the attacks. Iraq's deep sectarian divides have been a major dynamic in the insurgency, with the insurgency finding much weaker support from some segments of the population than others.

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Battles & operations – Bombings and terrorist attacks


[edit] Composition

The Iraqi insurgency is composed of at least a dozen major guerrilla organizations and perhaps as many as 40 distinct groups. These groups are subdivided into countless smaller cells. Due to its clandestine nature, the exact composition of the Iraqi insurgency is difficult to determine. Because most of these insurgents are civilians fighting against an organized domestic army and a foreign occupying army, many consider them to be guerrillas. :

  • Ba'athists, the armed supporters of Saddam Hussein's former nomenclature, e.g. army or intelligence officers;
  • Nationalists, mostly Sunni Muslims, who fight for Iraqi self-determination;
  • anti-Shi'a Sunni Muslims who fight to regain the prestige they held under the previous regime (these three categories are often indistinguishable in practice);
  • Sunni Islamists, the indigenous armed followers of the Salafi movement, as well as any remnants of the Kurdish Ansar al-Islam;
  • Foreign Islamist volunteers, including those often linked to al Qaeda and largely driven by the Sunni Wahabi doctrine (the two preceding categories are often lumped as "Jihadists");
  • Patriotic Communists (who have split from the official Iraqi Communist Party[citation needed]) and other leftists;
  • Criminal insurgents who are fighting simply for money; and
  • Nonviolent resistance groups and political parties (not technically part of the insurgency).

[edit] Ba'athists

The Ba'athists include former Ba’ath Party officials, the Fedayeen Saddam, and some former agents of the Iraqi intelligence elements and security services, such as the Mukhabarat and the Special Security Organization. Their goal, at least before the capture of Saddam Hussein, was the restoration of the former Ba'athist regime to power. The pre-war organization of the Ba'ath Party and its militias as a cellular structure aided the continued pro-Saddam insurgency after the fall of Baghdad, and Iraqi intelligence operatives may have developed a plan for guerrilla war following the toppling of Saddam Hussein from power. Following Saddam's capture, the rhetoric of the Ba'athist insurgents gradually shifted to become either nationalist or Islamist, with the goal of restoring the Ba'ath Party to power as it once was seemingly out of reach. Many former Ba'athists have adopted an Islamist façade in order to attract more credibility within the country, and perhaps support from outside Iraq. Others, especially following the January 2005 elections, became more interested in politics.

Fedayeen Saddam, irregular soldiers loyal to the former Iraqi Ba'athist regime.
Fedayeen Saddam, irregular soldiers loyal to the former Iraqi Ba'athist regime.

The fall of Baghdad effectively ended the existence of the Fedayeen Saddam as an organized paramilitary. Several of its members died during the war. A large number survived, however, and were willing to carry on the fight even after the fall of Saddam Hussein from power. Many former members joined guerilla organizations, collectively known as the Iraqi insurgency that began to form to resist the U.S-led occupation. By June, an insurgency was clearly underway in the central and northern Iraq, especially in an area known as the Sunni Triangle. Some units of the Fedayeen also continued to operate independently of other insurgent organizations in the Sunni areas of Iraq. On November 30, 2003, a U.S. convoy traveling through the town of Samarra in the Sunni Triangle was ambushed by over 100 Iraqi guerillas, reportedly wearing trademark Fedayeen Saddam uniforms.

Following the execution of former President of Iraq and leader of the Iraqi Baath Party Saddam Hussein, Deputy Leader of the Iraqi Baath Party and former Vice President of Iraq Izzat Ibrahim ad-Douri was a leading candidate to succeed him as Leader of the Iraqi Baath Party, he had taken over the running of the Iraqi Baath Party following Saddam Hussein's capture in 2003 and had been endorsed by a previously unknown group calling itself Baghdad Citizens Gathering[3][4], on 3 January 2007 the website of the banned Iraqi Baath Party confirmed that he is now the new leader of the Baath Party[5][6] Increasing Syrian influence in the Iraqi Baath Party may well have a major effect on result in a fragmentation of Baathist parts of the insurgency.[7]

[edit] Nationalists

Jama'at al-Tawhid wa'l Jihad members with Kim Sun-il giving Korea 24 hours to withdraw Korean troops out of Iraq .
Jama'at al-Tawhid wa'l Jihad members with Kim Sun-il giving Korea 24 hours to withdraw Korean troops out of Iraq .

Nationalists from the Sunni Arab regions are drawn from former members of the Iraqi military as well as other Sunnis. Their reasons for opposing the coalition vary between a rejection of the foreign presence as a matter of principle to the failure of the multinational forces to fully restore public services and to quickly restore complete sovereignty. Some Iraqis who have had relatives killed by coalition soldiers may also be involved in the insurgency. Most likely, the majority of the low-level members of the indigenous Sunni insurgency (such as foot soldiers) fall under this broad category. A smaller number of Shi'a nationalist fighters also exist, who are usually recruited from left-wing backgrounds. Sunni nationalists are mainly left-wing or, more commonly, ex-regime adherents.

Some of these insurgents pursue the restoration of the power previously held by the Sunni minority in Iraq, who controlled all previous Iraqi regimes since the departure of the British in the 1950s. One former minister in the interim government, Ayham al-Samarai, "launched a new political movement, saying he aimed to give a voice to figures from the legitimate Iraqi resistance. 'The birth of this political bloc is to silence the skeptics who say there is no legitimate Iraqi resistance and that they cannot reveal their political face,' he told a news conference." [8] There are some groups of Sunni Islamists who have taken a more explicitly anti-Shi'a role and frequently engage in revenge killings; these are mainly vigilante groups of local significance (as are most of their Shi'a counterparts).

One notable leader of the insurgency among Nationalist Sunni is former aide to Saddam Hussein and a former Regional Baath Party Organiser Mohammed Younis al-Ahmed al-Muwali who has been crossing the border between Iraq and Syria disbursing funds, smuggling weaponry and organising much of the fighting in the central area of Iraq[9][10]

[edit] Shia militia

The southern, Iran-linked Badr Organization is seeking to establish an Islamic Republic of Iraq.

Smaller Shia militias that have split off from the Mahdi Army have also been active; the most notorious is the one led by Abu Deraa. After the naming of Sadr-linked Ali al-Shameri as health minister[citation needed], Shia militias have infiltrated the Iraqi health care system[citation needed].

The Shia militias have presented Mr. Nouri al-Maliki with perhaps the greatest conundrum of his administration given the capture of Amarah [3]. American officials have pressed him hard to disarm the militias and rid the state security forces of their influence. Yet Mr. Maliki has hesitated to move against them, particularly the Mahdi Army and Badr Organization, for fear of alienating fundamentalist Shia leaders inside his fractious coalition.[11]

[edit] Muqtada al-Sadr

Supporters of the young Shi'a Islamist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr are largely impoverished men from the Shi'a urban areas and slums in Baghdad and the southern Shi'a cities.[12] The Mahdi Army area of operation stretches from Basra in the south to the Sadr City section of Baghdad in central Iraq (some scattered Shi'a militia activity has also been reported in Baquba and Kirkuk, where Shi'a minorities exist).

Sadr was suspected by U.S. and Iraqi authorities of ordering the assassination of a returning moderate Shia cleric, Imam Abdul Majid al-Khoei, in Najaf on April 12 2003. On April 5 2004, a warrant was issued for Sadr's arrest in connection with this killing; this, in addition to the closing of his newspaper al-Hawza on March 29, the arrest of one of his aides and other actions to suppress his movement, led to an armed attack by the Mahdi Army in April 2004. This initial attack in southern Iraq was suppressed by June. A second attack by his militia, centered in a mosque in Najaf, began in August; this was resolved in an agreement brokered by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. Since that point, Sadr's opposition to the multinational occupation has been mainly in the realm of politics. Since the handover of sovereignty, the Mahdi Army has been maintained as an organized force. Sadr supporters also continue to engage in peaceful resistance such as the large protests in Baghdad on April 9 2005.

Supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr are driven by a variety of beliefs and grievances which combine both the nationalist and ultra-conservative religious tendencies of the movement. They believe that the U.S. and UK are foreign occupiers and oppressors, that they have failed to live up to their promises, and that Islamic law must eventually be established in Iraq. Al-Sadr's movement also opposes any breakup of Iraq along ethnic, religious, or other lines.

During his group's active militant phase, Al-Sadr enjoyed wide support from the Iraqi people. A poll by the Iraq Center for Research and Studies found that 32% of Iraqis "strongly supported" him and another 36% "somewhat supported" him, making him the second most popular man in Iraq, behind only Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. The Mahdi Army is believed by some sources to number between 3,000 and 10,000 guerrillas.

After the December 2005 elections in Iraq, al-Sadr's party captured 32 seats giving him substantial political power in the divided Iraqi Parliament. In January 2006, he used these seats to swing the vote for prime minister to Ibrahim al-Jaafari, giving al-Sadr a legitimate stake in the new Iraqi government and allying al-Jaafari with the controversial cleric.

On November 27, 2006, a senior American intelligence official told reporters that the Iranian-backed group Hezbollah had been training members of the Mahdi Army. The official said that 1,000 to 2,000 fighters from the Mahdi Army and other Shia militias had been trained by Hezbollah in Lebanon, and a small number of Hezbollah operatives have also visited Iraq to help with training. Iran has facilitated the link between Hezbollah and the Shia militias in Iraq, the official said. "There seems to have been a strategic decision taken sometime over late winter or early spring by Damascus, Tehran, along with their partners in Lebanese Hezbollah, to provide more support to Sadr to increase pressure on the U.S.," the American intelligence official said.[13]

[edit] Sunni Islamists

Islamic Army in Iraq Logo
Islamic Army in Iraq Logo
Islamic Resistance Movement and the 20th Revolution Brigades Logo
Islamic Resistance Movement and the 20th Revolution Brigades Logo

The Sunni Islamists are composed of Iraqis belonging to the Ikhwan movement and/or the Salafi branch of Sunni Islam, who advocate a return to the pure Islam of the time of the Prophet Mohammed and oppose any foreign non-Muslim influence. The beliefs of Salafi Islam are roughly similar to the Wahabi sect of nearby Saudi Arabia (of which Osama bin Laden is a member). One difference is that Salafis in Iraq do not usually condone intolerance towards the Shi'a. Hard-line clerics and remaining underground cells of the Muslim Brotherhood in Iraq have helped provide support for the indigenous militant Islamist movement.
Emerging as the most public face supportive of the insurgency, is the founder of the ultra-conservative Association of Muslim Scholars, Sheikh Hareth al-Dhari.

[edit] Foreign insurgents

When Saddam Hussein was captured in December 2003, several documents were found in his possession. One particular document, which was apparently written after he lost power, appeared to be a directive to his Ba'athist loyalists warning them to be wary of Islamist mujahideen and other foreign Arabs entering the country to join the insurgency. The directive supposedly shows Saddam having concerns that foreign fighters would not share the same objectives as Ba'ath loyalists (i.e. the eventual return of Saddam to power and the restoration of his regime). A US official commenting on the document stressed that while Saddam urged his followers to be cautious in their dealings with other Arab fighters, he did not order them to avoid contact or rule out co-operation. Bruce Hoffman, a Washington counter-terrorism expert stated that the existence of the document underscores the fact that "this is an insurgency cut of many different cloths...[and] everybody's jockeying for their position of power in the future Iraq." Many experts believe that fighters from other countries who have flocked to Iraq to join the insurgency are motivated by animosity toward the United States and the desire to install an Islamic state in place of the Ba'ath Party's secular regime.[14]

Foreign insurgents consist mostly of Arab fighters from neighboring countries, who have entered Iraq, primarily through the porous desert borders of Syria and Saudi Arabia, to assist the Iraqi insurgency. Many of these fighters are Wahhabi fundamentalists who see Iraq as the new "field of jihad" in the battle against U.S. forces. It is generally believed that most are freelance fighters, but a few members of Al-Qaeda and the related group Ansar al-Islam are suspected of infiltrating into the Sunni areas of Iraq through the mountainous northeastern border with Iran. The U.S. and its allies point to Jordanian-born Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as the key player in this group. Zarqawi was considered the head of an insurgent group called Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad ("Monotheism and Holy War") until his death on June 7, 2006, which according to U.S. estimates numbers in the low hundreds.

Usage of the term "foreign fighters" has received criticism as being Western-centric because, taken literally, the term would encompass all non-Iraqi forces, including coalition forces.[15][16][17] Zarqawi himself has taken to taunting the American occupiers about the irony of the term: "Who is the foreigner, O cross worshippers? You are the ones who came to the land of the Muslims from your distant corrupt land." (Communiqué of 10 May 2005[18]). Zarqawi's group has since announced the formation of the Ansar platoon, a squad of Iraqi suicide bombers, which an AP writer called "an apparent bid to deflect criticism that most suicide bombers in Iraq are foreigners." [19]

While it is not known how many of those resisting the U.S. occupation in Iraq are from outside the country, it is generally agreed that foreign fighters make up a very small percentage of the insurgency. Major General Joseph Taluto, head of the 42nd Infantry Division, said that "99.9 per cent" of captured insurgents are Iraqi.[20] The estimate has been confirmed by the Pentagon's own figures; in one analysis of over 1000 insurgents captured in Fallujah, only 15 were non-Iraqi.[4] According to the Daily Telegraph, information from military commanders engaging in battles around Ramadi exposed the fact that out of 1300 suspected insurgents arrested in five months of 2005, none were non-Iraqi, although Colonel John Gronski stated that foreigners provided money and logistical support: "The foreign fighters are staying north of the [Euphrates] river, training and advising, like the Soviets were doing in Vietnam"[5] In September 2006, the Christian Science Monitor reported, "It's true that foreign fighters are in Iraq, such as the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. But they are a small minority of the insurgent force, say administration critics. Most Iraqi mujahideen are Sunnis who fear their interests will be ignored under Iraq's Shia-dominated government. They are fighting for concrete, local political goals - not the destruction of America." The paper quoted University of Michigan history professor Juan Cole: "If the Iraqi Sunni nationalists could take over their own territory, they would not put up with the few hundred foreign volunteers blowing things up, and would send them away or slit their throats."[21]

Despite the low numbers of foreign fighters their presence has been confirmed in several ways and coalition forces believe the majority of suicide bombings are believed to be carried out by non-Iraqi foreigners. Kenneth Katzman, a Middle East expert with the Congressional Research Service, stated in June 2005: "I still think 80 percent of the insurgency, the day to day activity, is Iraqi - the roadside bombings, mortars, direct weapons fire, rifle fire, automatic weapons fire...[but] the foreign fighters attract the headlines with the suicide bombings, no question."[6][7]

On September 7 2005, an Iraqi Army Captain claimed that Iraqi forces arrested 150 non-Iraqi Arabs in Tal Afar.[8] But other accounts of the same battle do not mention these arrests[9], and U.S. Army commander Colonel H. R. McMasters said the "vast majority" of insurgents captured there were "Iraqis and not foreigners."[10] Iraqi journalist Nasir Ali claimed that there were "very few foreign combatants" in Tal Afar and charged "Every time the US army and the Iraqi government want to destroy a specific city, they claim it hosts Arab fighters and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi."[11]

There are allegations that the U.S. government has attempted to inflate the number of foreign fighters in order to advance the theory that the insurgency is not a local movement. U.S. Army Specialist Tony Lagouranis spoke about his job identifying many of the bodies after the assault on Fallujah:

We had women and children, old men, young boys. . . [U.S. commanders] were trying to prove that there were a lot of foreign fighters in Falujah, so that was mainly what we were going for. Very few of them had foreign IDs. . . In an effort to, sort of, "cook the books", you know, they would find a Qu'ran on the guy and the Qu'ran was printed in Algeria and they'd mark him down as an Algerian, or guys would come in with a black shirt and khaki pants, and they'd say, well, this is the Hezbollah uniform, and so they'd mark him down as a Lebanese. Which was ridiculous. . . I did say something to the Staff Sergeant, and, you know, I just got yelled down.[22]

[edit] Foreign fighter nationality distribution

According to a U.S. military press briefing on October 20, 2005, 312 foreign nationals from 27 different countries had been captured in Iraq from April to October of 2005.[23] This represents a component of the Iraqi resistance movement, which also includes a nationalist movement encompassing over 30 Shia and Sunni militias.

Foreign insurgents captured in Iraq in the 7-month period April–October 2005:

Sorted by number of fighters captured
Nationality No.
Flag of Egypt Egypt 78
Flag of Syria Syria 66
Flag of Sudan Sudan 41
Flag of Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia 32
Flag of Jordan Jordan 17
Flag of Iran Iran 13
Flag of Palestinian territories Palestine 12
Flag of Tunisia Tunisia 10
Flag of Algeria Algeria 8
Flag of Libya Libya 7
Flag of Turkey Turkey 6
Flag of Lebanon Lebanon 3
Flag of India India 2
Flag of Qatar Qatar 2
Flag of United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates 2
Flag of United Kingdom United Kingdom 2
Flag of Denmark Denmark 1
Flag of France France 1
Flag of Indonesia Indonesia 1
Flag of Republic of Ireland Ireland 1
Flag of Israel Israel 1
Flag of Kuwait Kuwait 1
Flag of Republic of Macedonia Republic of Macedonia 1
Flag of Morocco Morocco 1
Flag of Somalia Somalia 1
Flag of United States United States 1
Flag of Yemen Yemen 1
Total 312
Sorted alphabetically by nationality
Nationality No.
Flag of Algeria Algeria 8
Flag of Denmark Denmark 1
Flag of Egypt Egypt 78
Flag of France France 1
Flag of India India 2
Flag of Indonesia Indonesia 1
Flag of Iran Iran 13
Flag of Republic of Ireland Ireland 1
Flag of Israel Israel 1
Flag of Jordan Jordan 17
Flag of Kuwait Kuwait 1
Flag of Lebanon Lebanon 3
Flag of Libya Libya 7
Flag of Republic of Macedonia Republic of Macedonia 1
Flag of Morocco Morocco 1
Flag of Palestinian territories Palestine 12
Flag of Qatar Qatar 2
Flag of Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia 32
Flag of Somalia Somalia 1
Flag of Sudan Sudan 41
Flag of Syria Syria 66
Flag of Tunisia Tunisia 10
Flag of Turkey Turkey 6
Flag of United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates 2
Flag of United Kingdom United Kingdom 2
Flag of United States United States 1
Flag of Yemen Yemen 1
Total 312

[edit] Abu Musab al-Zarqawi

Further information: Al-Qaeda in Iraq
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi video screenshot.
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi video screenshot.

The U.S. Government described Zarqawi as the single most dangerous and capable insurgent operative to work against the U.S.-led coalition and its Iraqi allies, responsible for a large number of major attacks. There are signs that an increasing rift is developing between supporters of al-Zarqawi, including both foreign guerrillas and some Iraqis who have adopted a hard-line Wahhabi philosophy, and the nationalists and more moderate religious elements of the insurgency. The main source of the divide is over the suicide bombings that have inflicted heavy Iraqi civilian casualties, along with disagreements about whether to cooperate with the Shi'a and their insurgency. However, the publicity given to Zarqawi has ensured that he has become an iconic figure to various Sunni Islamist groups, regardless of the actual scope of his influence, by much the same process that has made Osama bin Laden a symbol of the causes of various Islamist groups following the events of September 11 2001.

The extent of Zarqawi's influence is a source of much controversy. Zarqawi was reported killed in action in March 2004 in "a statement signed by a dozen alleged insurgent groups" (CBS/AP). His Jordanian family then held a funeral service on his behalf, although no body has been recovered and positively identified. Iraqi leaders have denied the presence of Zarqawi in Fallujah prior to the U.S. attack on that city in November 2004. Zarqawi's existence has even been questioned, for example by Pepe Escobar, an antiwar op-ed writer for the Asia Times. [12] There exists considerable biographic information on Zarqawi suggesting that he is best described as a former street thug of limited education; it is improbable that he actively fulfils the often-claimed role of "terrorist mastermind" and in fact could be better described as a "terrorist celebrity". Actual involvement of Zarqawi in significant terrorist incidents is not usually proven, although his group often claims it perpetrated bombings. As al-Qaeda is an "opt-in" group (meaning that everyone who agrees to some basic Wahabi moral tenets and the fundamental goals may consider himself a member), it is most likely that "Al-Qaeda in Iraq" is a loose association of largely independent cells united by a common strategy and vision, rather than a unified organization with a firm internal structure.

On June 8, 2006, Iraqi officials confirmed that Zarqawi was killed by two 500lb laser guided bombs dropped from an F-16 the previous evening. Abu Ayyub al-Masri, an Egyptian who was trained in Al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan has taken his place.

A document found in Zarqawi's safe house indicates that the terrorist group was trying to provoke the U.S. to attack Iran in order to reinvigorate the insurgency in Iraq and to weaken American forces in Iraq.[13] "The question remains, how to draw the Americans into fighting a war against Iran? It is not known whether American is serious in its animosity towards Iraq, because of the big support Iran is offering to America in its war in Afghanistan and in Iraq. Hence, it is necessary first to exaggerate the Iranian danger and to convince America and the west in general, of the real danger coming from Iran...". The document then outlines 6 ways to incite war between the two nations. Iraqi national security adviser Mouwafak al-Rubaie said the document, shows al-Qaeda in Iraq is in "pretty bad shape." He added that "we believe that this is the beginning of the end of al-Qaeda in Iraq."

On August 21, 2006, Jill Carroll, a journalist for the Christian Science Monitor, published part 6 of her story detailing her capitivity in Iraq. In it, she describes how one of her captors, who identified himself as Abdullah Rashid and leader of the Mujahideen Shura Council in Iraq, conveyed to her that "The Americans were constantly saying that the mujahideen in Iraq were led by foreigners...So, the Iraqi insurgents went to Zarqawi and insisted that an Iraqi be put in charge." She continued by stating: "But as I saw in coming weeks, Zarqawi remained the insurgents' hero, and the most influential member of their council, whatever Nour/Rashid's position...At various times, I heard my captors discussing changes in their plans because of directives from the council and Zarqawi."[14]

[edit] Schism between foreign insurgents and Iraqi insurgents

Large-scale terrorist attacks against civilians carried out by foreign fighters, as well as the interpretation of Islam that they attempt to impose on the local population in areas under their control, have increasingly turned Iraqis against them, in some cases breaking out into open fighting between different groups in the insurgency [15] [16] [17]. There are signs that local Islamist insurgent groups have also increasingly caused the population to turn against them [18] [19] [20] [21]

Opinions differ on how broad this schism is - terrorism expert Jessica Stern warned that "in the run-up to the war, most Iraqis viewed the foreign volunteers who were rushing in to fight against America as troublemakers, and Saddam Hussein's forces reportedly killed many of them." This opinion contradicts Iraqi scholar Mustapha Alani, who says that these foreigners are increasingly welcomed by the public, especially in the former Ba'athist strongholds north of Baghdad.[22]

While some have noted an alliance of convenience that existed between the foreign fighters and the native Sunni insurgents, there are signs that the foreign militants, especially those who follow Zarqawi, are increasingly unpopular among the native insurgents. In the run-up to the December 2005 elections, Sunni insurgents were warning al Qaeda members and foreign fighters not to attack polling stations. One former Ba'athist told Reuters, "Sunnis should vote to make political gains. We have sent leaflets telling al Qaeda that they will face us if they attack voters." And a Sunni insurgency leader specifically commented on Zarqawi: "Zarqawi is an American, Israeli and Iranian agent who is trying to keep our country unstable so that the Sunnis will keep facing occupation."[23]

By early 2006, the split between the Sunni insurgents and the Zarqawi-led foreign fighters had grown dramatically, and Sunni insurgents began targeting al Qaeda forces for assassination. One senior intelligence official told the Telegraph that Zarqawi had fled to Iran as a result of the attacks.[24] In response to al Qaeda killings in Iraq, Sunni insurgents in al-Anbar province led by former Ba'athist intelligence officer Ahmed Ftaikhan formed an anti-al-Qaeda militia called the Anbar Revolutionaries. All of the militia's core members have relatives who have been killed by al-Qaeda in Iraq, and they have sought to prevent foreign jihadis from entering the country. The group "claims to have killed 20 foreign fighters and 33 Iraqi sympathizers."[25]. The schism became all the more apparent in when a tape claiming to be from the Mujahedeen Shura Council urged Osama Bin Laden to replace Al Qaida in Iraq's current head with an Iraqi national. The Mujahedeen Shura Council, however, issued a statement shortly afterwards denying the authenticity of this tape.

[edit] Non-violent groups

Apart from the armed insurgency, there are important non-violent groups that resist the foreign occupation through other means. The National Foundation Congress set up by Sheikh Jawad al-Khalisi includes a broad range of religious, ethnic, and political currents united by their opposition to the occupation. Although it does not reject armed insurgency, which it regards as any nation's right, it favors non-violent politics and criticizes the formation of militias. It opposes institutions designed to implement American plans, such as the former Iyad Allawi government and the U.S.-organized national conference designed as the antecedent to a parliament. [24] Although the CPA enforced a 1987 law banning unions in public enterprises, trade unions such as the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU) and Iraq's Union of the Unemployed have also mounted effective anti-occupation opposition. [25]

Trades unions, however, have themselves been subject to attacks from the insurgency. Hadi Saleh of the IFTU was assassinated under circumstances that pointed to a Ba'athist insurgency group on 3 January 2005. No trades unions support the armed insurgency.[26]

Another union federation, the General Union of Oil Employees (GUOE) opposes the occupation and calls for immediate withdrawal but was neutral on participation in the election. Whereas the GUOE wants all foreign troops out immediately, both the IFTU and the Workers Councils call for replacement of U.S. and British forces with neutral forces from the UN, the Arab League and other nations as a transition. [27] Many unions see the war as having two dimensions: military and economic. The GUOE has won strikes against both the Governing Council for pay raises and against Halliburton over the use of foreign workers.[citation needed]

[edit] Insurgency tactics

Insurgent tactics vary widely, as well as the targets. Jihadist elements of the insurgency favor the use of car bombs, kidnappings, hostage-taking, shootings and other types of attacks to target Iraqi collaborators and U.S. forces with little regard for civilian casualties. Other groups claim to target their attacks on U.S. forces and avoid the targeting of civilians.

For most attacks, the Iraqi guerrillas operate in small teams of five to ten men in order to maintain mobility and escape detection. Larger attacks involving as many as 150 men have appeared on occasion since April 2004 (although large units had also appeared in a few instances beforehand, such as a battle near the Syrian border town of Rawa on June 13, 2003 and a large ambush of a U.S. convoy in the town of Samarra on November 30, 2003).

All of the following methods of attack are designed to allow insurgent teams to strike quickly and escape detection afterwards.

[edit] Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs)

Many Iraqi guerrilla attacks against coalition targets have taken the form of attacks on convoys and patrols using improvised explosive devices, or IEDs. These explosive devices, made from former Iraqi military munitions and explosive materials, are concealed or camouflaged along main roads and detonated when a convoy or patrol passes. In the chaos after the war, massive looting of the infrastructure, and most catastrophically, munitions, occurred. According to the Pentagon, 250,000 tons (of 650,000 tons total) of ordnance was looted, providing an almost endless source of ammunition for the insurgents.[26]

Even kinetic energy tank rounds are used as improvised projectiles against US vehicles
Even kinetic energy tank rounds are used as improvised projectiles against US vehicles
The improvised fired tank shell hitting a US Humvee
The improvised fired tank shell hitting a US Humvee

The method of detonation has varied as the U.S. has adapted to insurgent tactics; originally using simple wires, U.S. forces later became skilled at observing such devices, and cell-phones and garage-door openers were used as detonator transmitters. These devices were remote-wired up to 100 meters from the IED detonator to avoid jamming by counter-offensive devices and, most recently, infrared lasers have been used as the initiators. 155 mm artillery shells rigged with blasting caps and improvised shrapnel material (concrete, ball bearings, etc.) have been the most commonly used, but the makeshift devices have also gradually become larger as multinational forces add more armor to their vehicles, with evidence from insurgent propaganda videos of aviation bombs of 500 lb being used as IEDs.

They have also become more advanced, with more effective triggering devices and the introduction of Explosively Formed Penetrator (EFP) warheads.

The improvised explosives are often hidden behind roadside rails, on telephone poles, buried in the ground or in piles of garbage, disguised as rocks or bricks, and even placed inside dead animals or under road. This has emerged as the most lethal and favored method the insurgents have developed to attack coalition forces, and the number of these attacks have steadily increased. IEDs are generally used in ambushes against coalition forces, sometimes detonated serially, in order to catch in the open the quick reaction forces gathering after the first explosion.

[edit] Ambushes

In addition, Iraqi guerrillas have frequently launched ambushes of military convoys and patrols, using AK-47 assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades. Soft-skinned humvees have been the most commonly targeted. The congested and constricted terrain of the urban areas, and in the rural areas, palm groves and other crops, offer cover and concealment for insurgents launching ambushes.

These attacks are usually broken off before support can be called in, in traditional guerrilla fashion. Direct ambushes of U.S. forces have declined, however, to avoid insurgent casualties as U.S. defenses improve (armored Humvees and tanks are unaffected by insurgent AK-47 fire). The percentage of multinational forces casualties from mines or improvised explosives has risen to 70%.

Ambushes against the poorly protected Iraqi police and security forces, however, have proven very lethal. There have been isolated cases of larger ambushes, such as an attack on a coalition convoy in Samarra on November 30, 2003 that involved 100 fighters and a massive ambush of a coalition convoy in Sadr City on April 4, 2004 by Mahdi Army militiamen numbering over 1000 men.

[edit] Sniper Tactics

The Iraqi guerrillas also use sniper tactics against private contractors, Iraqi and U.S soldiers.

As of December 23, 2006, 43 U.S soldiers and three British Soldiers have been killed by sniper fire in Iraq since the beginning of the invasion. Private security contractors have also been targeted; on March 22, 2004 two Finnish businessmen were shot and killed by snipers in Baghdad. Two private security contractors, one British and one American (the last working for Blackwater USA, have also been killed by sniper insurgents. Soldiers tell of a supposed member of the insurgency who is alleged to be a very accurate sniper. Nicknamed Juba, he is said to have killed and wounded up to a hundred United States soldiers. The insurgents are not above shooting at coalition, Iraqi government or rival sectarian medical personal and ambulances are not assured safety from snipers as seen during 2005 in a now famous video of an attempted kill on a US army medic[27].

[edit] Mortar and rocket strikes

An Iraqi insurgent loads a 120 mm heavy mortar with a round during an attack on an unidentified target during June 2005.
An Iraqi insurgent loads a 120 mm heavy mortar with a round during an attack on an unidentified target during June 2005.

Another common form of attack involves hit-and-run mortar or rocket strikes on coalition bases or locations associated with the Iraqi government or a foreign presence. Insurgents fire a few mortar rounds or rockets and quickly escape before their position can be identified and effective counter-fire directed. Insurgents use urban areas heavily populated by civilians as firing positions to discourage counter-fire, and in the countryside, palm groves and orchards are used for concealment. Insurgents commonly mount mortar tubes in the rear cargo area of civilian trucks allowing them to drive away from the launch position before counter-fire or coalition troops can reach them.

This method is very inaccurate and rarely hits the intended target, since the guerrillas do not have time to aim properly, but casualties are still periodically inflicted by incoming mortar rounds and rockets. Improvised multiple-rocket launchers have also been used to target specific buildings in urban areas.

Mortars were used in an attack during October 2006 on Camp Falcon, a forward base which included an ammunition dump. The ammunition dump was destroyed by the attack.

[edit] Attacks on aircraft

Since the beginning of November 2003 military helicopters have also been increasingly targeted. The insurgents, often concealed in palm groves, lie in wait for the helicopters and then attack the helicopter, usually from the rear. The weapons used include rocket-propelled grenades and heat-seeking shoulder fired missiles such as the SA-7, SA-14, and in one case the SA-16. Countermeasures taken by helicopter pilots, such as flying very low at a high speed, have considerably reduced the number of helicopters shot down, by reducing the time of target acquisition. Recently, the tactic of flying low has increased the vulnerability of these vehicles to .50 caliber machine gunfire. Helicopters, including Apache gunships, have been severely damaged or destroyed when multiple machine gunners have engaged helicopters at close ranges of 50-400 meters. At this range, the kinetic energy of these bullets is sufficient to penetrate the helicopter's armor.

Another new tactic used by the insurgents to bring down helicopters is the so-called "aerial IED". Basically an explosive charge designed in a way to force the blast straight up into a flight path, this new type of IED may have been responsible for the downing of several helicopters.

[edit] Sabotage

Insurgent saboteurs have also repeatedly assaulted the Iraqi oil industry. Guerrillas, using either rocket-propelled grenades or explosives, regularly destroy portions of oil pipeline in northern Iraq, and had expanded to southern Iraq by April 2004. This sabotage hampers the activities of the Iraqi government and the foreign occupation forces by reducing oil revenues. Among the reasons the insurgency gives for sabotage is to prevent or limit American control of Iraq's hydrocarbon reserves. Efforts to bring oil production back to pre-war levels have been repeatedly frustrated by these attacks.

There have also been allegations of attacks on water pipelines and the electrical grid by the Iraqi insurgents, although there is controversy as to whether the incidents in question did indeed represent intended sabotage.

[edit] Suicide bombers

Main article: Suicide bombings in Iraq since 2003

Since August 2003, as the U.S-led coalition forces gradually strengthened their defenses, suicide car bombs have been increasingly used as weapons by guerrilla forces. The car bombs, known in the military as "vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices", have emerged as one of their most effective weapons, along with the roadside improvised explosive devices. They are often driven by suicide bombers and directed against targets such as Iraqi police stations, recruiting centers for the security services, and U.S. convoys. They have a number of benefits for the insurgency: they deliver a large amount of firepower and inflict large amounts of casualties at little cost to the attackers. However, large numbers of Iraqi civilians are usually killed in such attacks (see below). The suicide car bombings also have a psychological effect by lowering the morale of troops.

[edit] Non-military and civilian targets

There have also been many attacks on non-military and civilian targets, beginning in earnest in August 2003 and steadily increasing since then. These include the assassination of Iraqis cooperating with the Coalition Provisional Authority and the Governing Council, considered collaborators by the guerrillas, and suicide bombings targeting the United Nations headquarters, the Jordanian Embassy, Shi'a mosques and civilians, the International Red Cross, Kurdish political parties, the president of the Iraqi Governing Council, hotels, Christian churches, diplomats and restaurants. Armed and unarmed Iraqi police and security forces are also targeted, because they are also considered collaborators. Sometimes they are killed in ambushes and sometimes in execution-style killings. Militants have targeted private contractors working for the coalition as well as other non-coalition support personnel.

Civilian deaths attributable to insurgent or military action in Iraq, and also to increased criminal violence. For the period between January 1, 2003 and July 20, 2006 as recorded by the Iraq Body Count project. Many of these type of civilian deaths are not reported. Other methods of estimating civilian deaths come up with much higher numbers. See also: Casualties of the conflict in Iraq since 2003.
Civilian deaths attributable to insurgent or military action in Iraq, and also to increased criminal violence. For the period between January 1, 2003 and July 20, 2006 as recorded by the Iraq Body Count project. Many of these type of civilian deaths are not reported. Other methods of estimating civilian deaths come up with much higher numbers. See also: Casualties of the conflict in Iraq since 2003.

The origin of the large-scale bombings is considered by many observers to most likely be foreign fighters, former Iraqi secret service operatives, or a combination of the two. It is believed that most of the actual suicide attackers are from outside Iraq, although they most likely are facilitated by Iraqis. The network of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is frequently blamed by the U.S. and the Iraqi government for suicide attacks on non-military targets.

Coalition officials and some analysts suspect that the aim of these attacks is to sow chaos and sectarian discord. Coalition officials point to an intercepted letter suspected to be from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, in which he makes the case for attacking Shi'a in order to provoke an anti-Sunni backlash and thereby galvanize the Sunni population in support of the insurgents, as evidence. While hardcore Wahhabi mujahideen among the insurgency may indeed desire a sectarian civil war, other insurgents (both Sunni and Shia) charge that the coalition is attempting to instill a fear of civil war as part of a divide and conquer strategy.

Though attacks on civilians tend to kill much larger numbers of people in comparison to attacks on coalition forces, unverifiable figures from a November 2004 "left hook" blog article suggest that such attacks may comprised a very small proportion (4.1%) of insurgent activity from late 2003 to 2004. The same article asserts that the vast majority (75%) of attacks are directed at coalition forces.[28]

A 2005 Human Rights Watch report analyzes the insurgency in Iraq and highlights "the groups that are most responsible for the abuse, namely al-Qaeda in Iraq, Ansar al-Sunna and the Islamic Army in Iraq, which have all targeted civilians for abductions and executions. The first two groups have repeatedly boasted about massive car bombs and suicide bombs in mosques, markets, bus stations and other civilian areas. Such acts are war crimes and in some cases may constitute crimes against humanity, which are defined as serious crimes committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population."[28]

[edit] Assassinations, kidnappings and beheadings

Matt Maupin, a kidnapped US soldier is seen on this undated image made from a video broadcast by the Arab television station Al- Jazeera on Friday, April 16, 2004. AP/AlJazeera Photo.
Matt Maupin, a kidnapped US soldier is seen on this undated image made from a video broadcast by the Arab television station Al- Jazeera on Friday, April 16, 2004. AP/AlJazeera Photo.
Eugene Armstrong in orange, seated, before his decapitation by the five men standing over him.
Eugene Armstrong in orange, seated, before his decapitation by the five men standing over him.
Tawhid and Jihad members with Jack Hensley and with the banner in the background.
Tawhid and Jihad members with Jack Hensley and with the banner in the background.

See main article: Foreign hostages in Iraq

Assassination of local and government officials, translators for coalition forces, employees at coalition bases, informants, and other (so-called) collaborators has been a regular occurrence. Assassinations have taken place in a variety of ways, from close-range small arms fire and drive-by shootings to suicide car-bombers ramming convoys.

Kidnapping, and in some cases beheadings, have emerged as another insurgent tactic since April of 2004. Foreign civilians have borne the brunt of the kidnappings, although U.S. military personnel have also been targeted. After kidnapping the victim, the insurgents typically make some sort of demand of the government of the hostage's nation and give a time limit for the demand to be carried out, often 72 hours. Beheading is often threatened if the government fails to heed the wishes of the hostage takers. Several individuals, including an American civilian (Nicholas Berg) and a South Korean (Kim Sun-il), among others, have been beheaded. In many cases, tapes of the beheadings are distributed for propaganda purposes. However, 80% of hostages taken by insurgents have been peacefully released[citation needed]. Jill Carroll, a journalist for the Christian Science Monitor, was kidnapped in early 2006, and although later let go, her Iraqi translator was killed.

The goal of the kidnappings appears mainly to be to terrify foreign civilians into immobilization and to attract media attention and possibly inspire recruits. Almost all of the kidnappings have been conducted by radical Sunni groups on the fringe of the insurgency. The Mahdi Army, as well as the nationalist and more moderate religious elements of the Sunni insurgency, have rejected kidnapping as a legitimate tactic.

[edit] Attacks on security forces

Another insurgent tactic that has been increasingly used since April 2004 includes large-scale assaults and raids on the Iraqi police their police stations and compounds of Iraqi security forces, whom insurgents view as collaborators, involving platoon-sized elements or larger, often up to 150 men. Large-scale attacks have also been occasionally advanced against U.S. forces. They have been launched both by Sunni insurgents in cities such as Ramadi, Fallujah, and al-Qaim, and by Shia militiamen in cities such as Baghdad, Najaf, and Kufa during the twin uprisings of 2004. Some attacks may combine multiple weapons and tactics at once, such as rocket-propelled grenades, mortars, and car bombs. Although these attacks usually fail militarily, they are designed to convey an impression of strength on the part of the guerillas (part of the psychological warfare campaign) and to sow general chaos.

[edit] Propaganda

Iraqi insurgents have released propaganda videos such as [29]. These videos seem to mostly consist of footage of combat, training, executions or suicide attacks. These videos are posted online as recruiting tools, as last testaments of suicide bombers, to demonstrate attacks and to influence public opinion.

[edit] Analysis and polls

A series of several polls have been conducted to ascertain the position of the Iraqi public further on the insurgency and the coalition occupation. The polls consistently find the following:

  • Between 45% and 88% of Iraqi Sunni Arabs consider armed attacks on U.S. forces legitimate and justified resistance.[citation needed]
  • The greatest support for the insurgency is in al-Anbar province[citation needed]. There have been many insurgencies in the Diyala province.
  • Polls suggest the majority of Iraqis disapprove of the presence of coalition forces.[30]
  • A majority of both Sunnis and Shi'as want an end to the occupation as soon as possible, although Sunnis are opposed to the occupation by somewhat greater margins. [29]

Polls conducted in June 2005 suggest even more anti-occupation sentiment; most alarming to U.S. policymakers is rising support for the insurgency. According to the Boston Globe (10 June 2005): "a recent internal poll conducted for the U.S.-led coalition found that nearly 45 percent of the population supported the insurgent attacks, making accurate intelligence difficult to obtain. Only 15 percent of those polled said they strongly supported the U.S.-led coalition."[30] A later 2005 poll by British intelligence said that 45% of Iraqis support attacks against coalition forces, rising to 65% in some areas, and that 82% are "strongly opposed" to the presence of foreign troops.[31] Demands for U.S. withdrawal have also been signed on by one third of Iraq's Parliament.[32] These results are consistent with a January 2006 poll that found an overall 47% approval for attacks on US-led forces. That figure climbed to 88% among Sunnis. Attacks on Iraqi security forces and civilians, however, were approved of by only 7% and 1% of respondents respectively. 87% favored a U.S. withdrawal, but only 23% believe the U.S. would actually withdraw if asked. 80% believed the U.S. plans permanent bases in Iraq.[31]

A September 2006 poll of both Sunnis and Shias found that 71% of Iraqis wanted the U.S. to leave within a year, with 65% favoring an immediate pullout and 77% voicing suspicion that the U.S. wanted to keep permanent bases in Iraq.[32] 61% approved of attacks on U.S. forces.[33]

A great deal of attention has been focused on how much success the guerrillas have had in consolidating support among the Iraqi population. It appears the Iraqi insurgency retains a degree of popular support in the "Sunni triangle," especially in cities like Fallujah. The tribal culture of the area and its concepts of honor, the prestige many received from the former regime, and civilian casualties resulting from intense coalition "counter-insurgency" operations have resulted in the opposition of many Sunni Arabs to the occupation.

Polls indicate that the greatest support for the insurgency is in al-Anbar province, a vast area extending from the Syrian border to the western outskirts of Baghdad. This is attributed to a number of reasons, including a lack of opportunities for members of the old regime, lack of employment, tribal customs, suspicion of outsiders, and the religious conservatism of the area. Coalition "counter-insurgency" operations have suffered heavy casualties in the province.

Some observers, such as political scientist Wamidh Nadhmi, believe that the major division in Iraq is not along ethnic and religious divisions nor between the general population and violent groups, but between those who collaborate with the foreign occupation and those who resist it.

U.S. and British forces tend to suffer fewer casualties in the Shia and Kurdish areas outside the "Sunni triangle." Many, however, especially in the Shia community, although supportive of the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, are very unhappy with the occupation. Farther north in the Kurdish areas, there is some pro-U.S. sentiment and a strong opposition to the groups constituting the insurgency.

Support for the insurgency is less strong in the Shi'a areas of the country than in the Sunni areas since the Shi'as, like the Kurds, did not dominate the ruling factions of the old regime. Shi'as have also been influenced by a moderate clerical establishment under Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani that has advocated a political solution. However, Muqtada al-Sadr (a radical Shi'a cleric who has advocated militant insurgency) has drawn support from a portion of the Shi'a community, mainly young and unemployed men in urban areas. Sadr's support varies region by region; while likely not drawing considerable support in Najaf (a stronghold of the clerical establishment which was occupied by Sadr's militia and has been the scene of some of the heaviest fighting), some polls have indicated Sadr's support among the Shi'as of Baghdad may be as high as 50%. However, this support did not translate into direct electoral winnings for Sadr supporters during the January 2005 elections.

Spontaneous peaceful protests against the occupation have appeared in Shi'a areas. The Shi'a intellectuals and the upper classes, as well as the inhabitants of rural regions in the south and followers of more moderate clerics such as Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, tend to cooperate with the coalition and the Iraqi interim government and eschew militant protest. Sistani's political pressure is largely credited with enabling the elections of January 2005.

The Shi'a and Kurdish populations of Iraq have had long histories of strained relations with past Iraqi regimes, which have long been dominated by the Sunni. Their favored status in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion is also a factor attributed to the fewer instances of attacks against coalition forces in Shi'a and Kurdish regions of the country. This is in contrast to the more radical Muqtada al-Sadr, who draws his support from the lower classes and much of the Shia urban population. Both united, however, on the United Iraqi Alliance ticket that brought in the largest share of the votes in the January 2005 elections.

[edit] Scope and size of the insurgency

The most intense Sunni insurgent activity takes place in the cities and countryside along the Euphrates River from the Syrian border town of al-Qaim through Ramadi and Fallujah to Baghdad, as well as along the Tigris river from Baghdad north to Tikrit. Heavy guerilla activity also takes place around the cities of Mosul and Tal Afar in the north, as well as the "Triangle of Death" south of Baghdad, which includes the "-iya" cities of Iskandariya, Mahmudiya, Latifiya, and Yusufiya. Lesser activity takes place in several other areas of the country. The insurgency is believed to maintain a key supply line stretching from Syria through al-Qaim and along the Euphrates to Baghdad and central Iraq, the Iraqi equivalent of the Ho Chi Minh trail. A second "ratline" (the U.S. term) runs from the Syrian border through Tal Afar to Mosul.

Provincial control of Iraq as of January 2007      Coalition control      Sunni Insurgent control      Shiite militia influence      Contested provinces
Provincial control of Iraq as of January 2007      Coalition control      Sunni Insurgent control      Shiite militia influence      Contested provinces

Although estimates of the total number of Iraqi guerrillas varies by group and fluctuates under changing political climate, the latest assessments put the present number at between 12,000 and 20,000 hardcore fighters, along with numerous supporters and facilitators throughout the Sunni Arab community. At various points U.S. forces provided estimates on the number of fighters in specific regions. A few are provided here (although these numbers almost certainly have fluctuated):

  • Fallujah (mid-2004): 2000-5000 (in a November 2004 operation, the Fallujah insurgency has been destroyed or dispersed, but has been staging a comeback, albeit not to former strength, in the course of 2005)
  • Samarra (December 2003): 2000
  • Baquba (June 2004): 1000
  • Baghdad (December 2003): 1000 (this number may have increased by a significant amount)

Guerilla forces operate in many of the cities and towns of al-Anbar province, due to mostly ineffective Iraqi security forces in this area. There is extensive guerilla activity in Ramadi, the capital of the province, as well as al-Qaim, the first stop on an insurgent movement route between Iraq and Syria. as of 2006 Recent reports suggest that the Anbar capital Ramadi has largely fallen under insurgent control along with most of the Anbar region, as a result the US is sending an extra 3,500 marines to reestablish control of the region. [34] [35]

Baghdad is still one of the most contested regions of the country. Insurgents are waging intense guerilla warfare and some Sunni neighborhoods such as Adhamiya are largely under insurgent control. Suicide attacks and car bombs are near daily occurrences in Baghdad. The road from Baghdad to the city airport is the most dangerous in the country, if not the world. Iraqi security and police forces have also been significantly built up in the capital and, despite being constantly targeted, had enjoyed some successes such as the pacification of Haifa Street, Haifa street however has recently seen a massive surge of insurgent activity.[36]

Insurgents are also vigorously contesting control of the ethnically diverse northern city of Mosul, with much of the city, especially the western Arab half, slipping in and out of their control.

Recent intelligence suggests that the base of foreign terrorist operations has moved from Anbar to the religiously- and ethnically-mixed Diyala province. In response to a law allowing for the partitioning of Iraq into autonomous regions, members of the Mutayibeen Coalition, one of Iraq's largest Sunni insurgent groups, allegedly claimed the creation of an Islamic state encompassing parts of 6 of Iraq's 18 provinces on October 15[37]. Yet another show of defience came on October 18 when Sunni insurgents brazenly paraded in Ramadi. Similar parades were held two days later in several towns across western Iraq, two of which occurred within two miles of US military bases.

By October 2006, small radicalized militias had seemed to overshadow the larger and more organized Sunni groups which had composed the insurgency previously[38]. As disagreements emerged in pre-existing insurgent groups for reason ranging from the rift in the sunni insurgency between foreign and Iraqi insurgents, competition between Mahdi Army and Badr Brigade, and anger over various decisions such as Muqtada al Sadr's agreement to join the political process, dozens of insurgent groups sprung up across the country, though particularly in Baghdad where the US army has listed 23 active militias. Residents have described the capital as being a patchwork of militia run fiefs. As a result of the insurgencies splintering nature, many established leaders in the insurgency seemed to lose influence. This was particularly illustrated on October 19, when members of the Mahdi army briefly seized control of Amarah. The attack, while demonstrating the influence of the Madhi army, is believed to have originated as a result of contention between local units of the Madhi army and the allegedly Badr brigade run security forces, and the timing suggested that neither Al Sadr nor his top commanders had known known or orchestrated the offensive[39].

[edit] Rate of attacks and casualties

Main article: Casualties of the conflict in Iraq since 2003

Further information: List of Insurgents killed in Iraq
 Attacks against Iraqi National and Coalition forces as of July 2006 (Data from Government Accountability Office report product no. GAO-06-1094t)

In the July 4, 2005 issue of Newsweek, Fareed Zakaria reports that "insurgents launched 700 attacks against U.S. forces last month, the highest number since the invasion. They are getting more sophisticated, now using shaped charges, which concentrate the blast of a bomb, and infrared lasers, which cannot be easily jammed. They kill enough civilians every week that Iraq remains insecure, and electricity, water and oil are still supplied in starts and stops." [33]

As of January 29, 2007, 3080 U.S. soldiers, 130 British soldiers and 123 soldiers from other nations have died in Iraq. 22,834 U.S. soldiers had been wounded.[34] According to Pentagon records, over 8000 American soldiers have deserted since the beginning of the conflict in Iraq.[40]. While the Pentagon says that the rate of desertion is below normal peace-time levels, several servicemen have said that their desertion is connected with the war in Iraq.[citation needed]Pentagon spokesman have disagreed, stating very few have deserted because of the war but rather for the typical reasons of personal problems and difficulty adjusting to military life. They further state the figures show desertions have actually dropped since their height in pre-war 2001, trending down strongly ever since.[citation needed]

Since Coalition forces do not usually release public "body counts", it is very difficult to determine the exact number of Iraqi Insurgents killed by US. Forces, however several sources have given good estimates based on known intelligence and figures. A Washington Post Op-Ed article on November 22, 2005, estimated the number of insurgents killed in action in Iraq at between 45,000 and 50,000. However this figure is very unreliable as it is estimated there are between 20-30,000 insurgents recently and their numbers are increasing. Insurgents usually wear civilian attire (see the Lagouranis quote under "Foreign insurgents" above), wounded or killed fighters are regularly recovered by local citizens, and numbers of killed enemy fighters have sometimes been proven to be inflated for propagandistic reasons.

[edit] Iraqi coalition counter-insurgency operations

Main article: Iraqi coalition counter-insurgency operations

Toward the end of June 2004, the Coalition Provisional Authority transferred the "sovereignty" of Iraq to a caretaker government, whose first act was to begin the trial of Saddam Hussein. Fighting continued in the form of an insurgent rebellion against the occupying forces as well as the new Iraqi government, with a small fraction of the insurgency composed of non-Iraqi Muslim militant groups like Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda (see "Foreign insurgents" above). The new government began the process of moving towards open elections, though the insurgency and the lack of cohesion within the government itself, has lead to delays. Militia leader Muqtada al-Sadr took control of Najaf and Coalition forces attempted to dislodge him. Through July and August a series of skirmishes in and around Najaf culminated with the Imman Ali Mosque under siege, only to have a peace deal brokered by al-Sistani in late August. Al-Sadr then declared a national cease fire, and opened negotiations with the American and government forces on disbanding his militia and entering the political process.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ A group of Iraqi Baathists pledges allegiance to Saddam's fugitive deputy, naming him leader International Herald Tribune, 31 December 2006
  4. ^ Jordan Baathists pledge loyalty to Saddam deputy Jerusalem Post, 31 January 2006
  5. ^ Saddam aide is new Baath leader BBC News, 3 January 2007
  6. ^ Wanted: the iceman: the last of Saddam's inner circle still at liberty continues to taunt his would-be captors with frequent sightings and leads a ruthless band of Ba'athist insurgents., Access My Library, 01 December 2006
  7. ^ Battle for New Leader Likely The Guardian, 01 January 2007
  8. ^ Iraqis Unhappy with the Bush vow to stay on. News archives
  9. ^ Wanted: the iceman: the last of Saddam's inner circle still at liberty continues to taunt his would-be captors with frequent sightings and leads a ruthless band of Ba'athist insurgents., Access My Library, 01 December 2006
  10. ^ Battle for New Leader Likely The Guardian, 01 January 2007
  11. ^ "Attack on Iraqi City Shows Militia’s Power", 2006-10-20publisher=The New York Timesurl=
  12. ^ Fairweather, Jack. "Sadr City slum divided over firebrand cleric as calm returns",, Telegraph Group, 2004-04-14. Retrieved on 2006-10-06.
  13. ^ MICHAEL R. GORDON and DEXTER FILKINS. "Hezbollah Said to Help Shia Army in Iraq", New York Times, November 27, 2006.
  14. ^ Saddam warning on Islamist forces, The Age, January 16, 2004.
  15. ^ Yamin Zakaria, Iran & Iraq: Blunders of the Ayatollahs. February 06, 2005.
  16. ^ Charles Shaw, Unembedded, Independent. Newtopia Magazine.
  17. ^ "This is a Resistance Movement, Whether We Like It or Not" by Robert Fisk. Democracy Now, 30 October 2003.
  18. ^ Communication for Al-qaeda's Jihad committee in Mesopotamia
  19. ^ Iraq suicide bombers, Yahoo news, June 21, 2005.
  20. ^ Phil Sands, 'Good and honest' Iraqis fighting US forces September 6, 2005, 06:25 (UAE)
  21. ^ Peter Grier, "Is war in Iraq a shield against attacks at home?" Christian Science Monitor (18 September 2006) p. 3.
  22. ^ Interview with U.S. Army Specialist Tony Lagouranis on Democracy Now!
  23. ^ The National Origins of Foreign Fighters in Iraq, by Alan B. Krueger, Princeton University and NBER, 30 December 2006.
  24. ^ Jonathan Steele, The Iraqi Leader Seeking a Peaceful Path to Liberation: A New Party unites Shi’as, Sunnis, Kurds and Christians. Guardian/UK, July 16, 2004.
  25. ^ David Bacon, Iraq's Labor Upsurge Wins Support from U.S. Unions. FPIF Commentary. July 28, 2004.
  26. ^ David Bacon, Murdered Iraqi Trade Unionist Trapped Between U.S. and Insurgents. News Analysis, Pacific News Service, Jan 26, 2005.
  27. ^ USLAW Statement on the Iraqi Labor Solidarity Tour of U.S.
  28. ^
  29. ^ Survey Finds Deep Divisions in Iraq; Sunni Arabs Overwhelmingly Reject Sunday Elections; Majority of Sunnis, Shias Favor U.S. Withdrawal, New Abu Dhabi TV / Zogby Poll Reveals. Zogby International, January 28, 2005.
  30. ^ Bryan Bender, [1] Insurgency seen forcing change in Iraq strategy, New aim to bring Sunnis into fold. Globe Staff, June 10, 2005.
  31. ^ Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent, [2]
  32. ^ Abdel-Wahed Tohmeh, 83 MPs Ask al-Jaafari to Put a Timetable for the Withdrawal of Foreign Troops. June 22, 2005.
  33. ^ Fareed Zakaria, Don't Make Hollow Threats. August 22, 2005.
  34. ^ Pat Kneisler, Michael White, and Evan D., Iraq coalition casualties count. Operation Enduring Freedom Fatalities.

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