10 October 2006

Iraq: The Insurgency

We have been reminded on numerous occasions about OPSEC (operational security) issues. In a nutshell, we have to be careful what we post on our blogs or websites because there are certain things we don't want "the bad guys" to find out. Sometimes its frustrating but I think everyone here (and at home) understands the reasons why we can't talk about something or why we are vague on certain details.

Every once in a while I come across some material which is officially approved for public release (i.e., on an official military website) which helps to explain what's going on over here. When I do find these, I will republish them knowing its safe to do so because it's already been vetted by the appropriate sources. To be sure, the website even includes the following disclaimer: " All content on MNF-Iraq.com is public domain and may be used freely."

Here is the first part of the series, a description of the insurgency in Iraq from the official website of the Multi-National Force - Iraq:

The insurgency in Iraq consists of myriad anti-Iraqi Forces and their supporters who are engaged in guerilla warfare against Coalition and Iraqi security forces and use terrorism to strike fear in the Iraqi populace. Their tactics include, but are not limited to, suicide bombings, improvised explosive device attacks, kidnapping, rudimentary sniper techniques, mortar attack, rocket attacks, and murder.

Insurgent activity is centered in the Sunni-dominated parts of Iraq, primarily the areas to the northwest of Baghdad and between the cities of Tikrit, Ramadi, Samarra and Fallujah. Sunni Arabs, including Ba’athist and former elements of Saddam Hussein’s regime, Saddamists, sometimes collaborate with international Sunni Arab terrorist networks, providing funds and guidance across family, tribal, religious and peer group lines. The foreigners include jihadists led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s terrorist network, al-Qaida in Iraq, AQI. Together, these groups work to perpetuate a reign of terror designed to breed havoc in Iraq.

Some of these anti-government elements are clearly groups drawn from the former regime, the Ba’th Party, the paramilitary Fedayeen, and the Republican Guard. Some are anti-Saddam nationalist groups with no desire to see Saddam restored but resentful of U.S. and Western presence; others are Islamist groups, some members of which have been trained overseas or are foreign nationals, the latter including Syrians, Saudis, Yemenis, and Sudanese. Some activities have been the work of criminals or criminal organizations, large numbers of criminals being released at the end of the war and some certainly hiring themselves out for attacks on Coalition forces.

Other Iraqi jihadists groups are active, notably Ansar al-Sunnah, which operates primarily in Kurdish-dominated northern Iraq. The foreign jihadists enter Iraq from Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan, and Iran.

Most of the victims of jihadists suicide bombings have been civilians, innocent bystanders. This has been especially true since Coalition and Iraqi security forces developed tactics and deployed better equipment to protect themselves from the attacks. Among the Sunnis, a variety of groups have been identified. They are united only in the sense of having what have been called “negative” goals in opposition to U.S. presence; in seeking some return to the former status quo in which the Sunni minority have exercised power since the Ottoman period.

There are also armed militias attached to the two main Shiite political parties, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq and al-Dawa, and there is clearly potential for Shiite participation in violence. The pattern of Iraqi activity thus far looks remarkably similar to that in Palestine with roadside bombs, which have also been used by Hezbollah in Lebanon, and other so-called improvised explosive devices; ambushes of soft-skinned vehicles; opportunistic rocket-propelled grenade and shooting attacks on military personnel; attacks on civilian members of the Coalition authorities and foreign personnel working in some way for the Coalition; attacks on Iraqi “collaborators,” most recently police and army recruits’ and attacks on economic targets such as power stations, oil installations, and pipelines. There has also been an increase in the number of attacks upon “soft” targets, principally civilian gatherings.
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