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#106153 --- 01/17/05 03:10 PM ‘The Battle for Iraq May Never Be Won’
Howlin Wolf Offline
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Published on Sunday, January 16, 2005 by The Sunday Herald (Scotland)

Coalition Admits on Eve of Election: ‘The Battle for Iraq May Never Be Won’
Run-up to vote sees mounting violence as US commanders finally concede they underestimated the resistance

by Trevor Royle

For Iyad Allawi, Iraq's interim prime minister it was a deeply ironic moment. Last week he cranked up his election campaign in Baghdad on behalf of his 233 member party known as the Iraqi List with a call to arms.

Speaking to reporters about the need to defeat the men of violence and to push ahead with the polls, come what may, his podium was decorated with an Iraqi flag and the defiant slogan: "Security and safety come first."

Outside in the streets of the increasingly troubled country the maxim had a hollow ring. For all that Iraqi politicians and senior commanders in the US-led coalition insist that the elections will not be derailed by violence, the assassinations and bombings continue unabated.

Not a day passes without Iraqi security personnel being routinely murdered or kidnapped. Yesterday, a policeman was killed and four others seriously wounded when gunmen opened fire on a checkpoint near Kirkuk. A US marine was also killed in action south of Baghdad, bringing the number of US soldiers killed to 1360 since March 2003 and there have been fresh attempts to foment civil unrest between rival Sunni and Shi'ite groups.

Last Wednesday, Sunni assassins gunned down Sheikh Mahmoud Finjan, a leading aide of the Shi'ite leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani as he returned from evening prayers in his home town of Salman Pak near Baghdad. Coming on top of other recent religiously motivated killings Finjan's murder was widely seen as an attempt to dissuade Shi'ites from supporting the election.

Following the attack, the perpetrators, Ansar al-Sunnah, posted a defiant message on their website: "We call on all brother citizens not to participate in the elections because we are going to attack voting centers."

The threat is being taken seriously by coalition commanders who have been given the thankless task of guarding polling centers. and ensuring the safety of voters. That is one reason for the deployment to Basra of the 1st Royal Highland Fusiliers to reinforce the British garrison. Difficult though their task will be, it is relatively straightforward compared with the problems facing the US forces in the Sunni triangle further north.

After months of arguing that they had the situation under control, senior US commanders have finally conceded that they are not facing a bunch of "dead-enders" and fanatics but a highly trained and motivated resistance movement of around a quarter of a million fighters who are capable of mounting "spectacular" attacks ahead in the fortnight before the election.

One high-ranking army officer was even moved to admit that the coalition is losing the fight and told the Sunday Herald that the battle might never be won.

"The truth is that we are containing the problem but we are in no condition to crack it," he said. "It's bound to be an imperfect exercise for the simple reason that in many parts of the country we have failed to impose our authority and failed to win the trust of the local people. Instead, they have turned to the insurgents as their best bet."

Following the transfer of power to the interim administration last June, hopes were high that the move would lance the boil of violence and that the insurgents would lose the will to continue. Instead, the opposite has happened. Not only has the violence continued but it has grown in intensity without much being done to damp it down. At the end of 2004 the town of Fallujah was attacked and razed to the ground but the only result was the dispersal of its 350,000 inhabitants, unknown numbers of whom were killed, without any appreciable gains in the war against the insurgents.

Frustrated by the lack of tangible success, the US has discussed the possibility of creating specialist "death-squads" to hunt down insurgents in what would be a dirty war similar to the one waged in Salvador. The idea met a cool reception but the Pentagon still insists that it remains an option.

In a more conventional request, commanders would like to increase the US garrison by 50,000 soldiers, but that is unlikely to happen in the short term. The army is stretched to breaking point and recruiting has taken a nosedive as a result of the high casualties - in addition to the dead an estimated 10,000 soldiers have been badly wounded or mutilated in combat.

Demonstrating an optimism which is not born out by what has been happening in Iraq, supporters of the elections insist that they will go ahead and that they will be decisive for the country's long-term future. Prime Minister Tony Blair claims that the battle now is not about ideologies but about the struggle between "democracy and terror" and US President George Bush steadfastly maintains that the elections are "an incredibly hopeful experience" and that any postponement would be suicidal.

Asked about their soldiers' ability to contain the violence, US commanders stick to the line that the elections will go ahead as planned and that they are confident of ensuring that they are "free and fair", but ranks are already being broken.

For all that Allawi remains confident, he admitted last week that not everyone would be able to vote and that despite the presence of coalition forces there will be parts of the country where intimidation and violence will prevent a fair vote. At least four of Iraq's 18 provinces are considered to be "no-go" areas: Nineveh, Anbar, Salahadin and Baghdad. Together they make up 25% of Iraq's population.

Inevitably the result of the elections will impinge on Bush's second term in office, which begins this week. A major part of his campaign was predicated on making sure that they took place and were seen to be democratic but he will also have to deal with the aftermath.

With many Sunnis promising to boycott the elections and with Shi'ites under threat of intimidation, the result can hardly reflect Iraqi popular opinion but Bush will have to live with the result. It is also clear the US will have to continue supporting those politicians who are elected and that will mean only one thing. Unless the resistance is defeated the coalition troops will be in Iraq for many years to come.
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#106154 --- 01/17/05 03:59 PM Re: ‘The Battle for Iraq May Never Be Won’
TRD_Tacoma Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 09/19/02
Posts: 12952
Loc: Rochester
We're going to be in Iraq for many many years. My guess is many of us that are in out 30's and 40's will not live to see the U.S. pull out of Iraq completely. The Middle East has always been a hot bed of religous radicals who feel that their way is the only way. Unless this belief changes, which it won't, the struggle between the different groups will continue and we will need to be there to attempt to keep peace...something I feel we are failing at miserably.
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#106155 --- 01/17/05 04:13 PM Re: ‘The Battle for Iraq May Never Be Won’
Howlin Wolf Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 04/12/00
Posts: 11527
Loc: World's Lgst. Potemkin Villag...
Quote:

We're going to be in Iraq for many many years. My guess is many of us that are in out 30's and 40's will not live to see the U.S. pull out of Iraq completely.







Quote:

Since it apparently only takes a small touching-point to make a valid analogy, here are some parallels between Iraq / A'stan and Viet Nam. Personally I think they're superficial similarities, but since that's the name of the game these days, here we go...
    Americans are doing most of the fighting and dying.
    Most other allies are setting end-dates for involvement.
    The rest of the world sees us as on a unilateral, adventurist mission for motives which are other than those we claim.
    A high proportion of the public is against the war. They are being ignored, ridiculed, berated, and worse.
    Many in Congress, the upper echelons of the military command, and in the Pentagon are at best skeptical about the win-ability of the war. They too are being ignored, ridiculed, berated, and worse.
    We have a President who feels he has a point to prove and is therefore going to stick to it.
    It costs literally millions of dollars to mount a single operation against a squad or platoon's worth of lightly-armed peasants. If they're still where we think they are, and we hit them.
    The enemy has no centralized command and control.
    If we remove their top men, they will not surrender.
    We have no plan for the peace - assuming it comes.
    The population we are there to save appears to dislike us as much as those we are there to save them from.
    The moment we withdraw, things will be exactly where they would have been immediately after the prior-existing government had been removed.


HW
"GOP Senator says Iraq worse"
Great Debate Forum
12/09/04 01:55 PM


_________________________
Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow

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#106156 --- 01/17/05 04:29 PM Re: ‘The Battle for Iraq May Never Be Won’
TRD_Tacoma Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 09/19/02
Posts: 12952
Loc: Rochester
[quoteThe moment we withdraw, things will be exactly where they would have been immediately after the prior-existing government had been removed




Exactly. All the more reason why we should never have gone into Iraq in the first place.

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#106157 --- 01/20/05 01:08 AM Re: ‘The Battle for Iraq May Never Be Won’
South County Offline
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Registered: 10/08/00
Posts: 12000
Loc: .
If I could pick anyone for president, I would pick Senator Joe Biden of Delaware. He recently visited Iraq. And today, he told Connie Rice, "For Gods sake, whatever you do don't listen to Rumsfeld. He has no clue on what is going on".

Here is a man who knows what is going on and is not afraid to tell it like it is!
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#106158 --- 01/20/05 11:25 PM Re: ‘The Battle for Iraq May Never Be Won’
Howlin Wolf Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 04/12/00
Posts: 11527
Loc: World's Lgst. Potemkin Villag...
Quote:

Biden... told Connie Rice, "For Gods sake, whatever you do don't listen to Rumsfeld. He has no clue on what is going on".






_________________________
Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow

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