and "reconciliation" were the patois
of Downing Street and the White House yesterday.
But all those hopes of a collapse of resistance
are doomed. Saddam was neither the spiritual nor
the political guide to the insurgency that is
now claiming so many lives in Iraq - far more
Iraqi than Western lives, one might add - and,
however happy Messrs Bush and Blair may be at
the capture of Saddam, the war goes on.
Fallujah, in Ramadi, in other centres of Sunni
power in Iraq, the anti-occupation rising will
continue. The system of attacks and the frighteningly
fast-growing sophistication of the insurgents
is bound up with the Committee of the Faith, a
group of Wahabi-based Sunni Muslims who now plan
their attacks on American occupation troops between
Mosul and the city of Hilla, 50 miles south of
Baghdad. Even before the overthrow of the Baathist
regime, these groups, permitted by Saddam in the
hope that they could drain off Sunni Islamic militancy,
were planning the mukawama - the resistance against
slaughter of 17 more Iraqis yesterday in a bomb
attack on a police station - hours after the capture
of Saddam, though the bombers could not have known
that - is going to remain Iraq's bloody agenda.
The Anglo-American narrative will then be more
difficult to sustain. Saddam "remnants"
or Saddam "loyalists" are far more difficult
to sustain as enemies when they can no longer
be loyal to Saddam. Their Iraqi identity will
become more obvious and the need to blame "foreign"
al-Qa'ida members all the greater.
the repeated assertions of US infantry commanders,
especially those based around Mosul and Tikrit,
that most of their attackers are Iraqi rather
than foreign, show that the American military
command in Iraq - at least at the divisional level
- knows the truth. The 82nd Airborne captain in
Fallujah who told me that his men were attacked
by "Syrian-backed terrorists and Iraqi freedom-fighters"
was probably closer to the truth than Major Ricardo
Sanchez, the US commander in Iraq, would like
to believe. The war is not about Saddam but about
professional soldiers have been pointing this
out for a long time. Yesterday, for example, a
sergeant in the 1st Armoured Division on checkpoint
duty in Baghdad explained the situation to The
Independent in remarkably blunt words. "We're
not going to go home any sooner because of Saddam's
getting caught," he said. "We all came
to search for weapons of mass destruction and
attention has now been diverted from that. The
arrest of Saddam is meaningless. We still don't
know why we came here."
are groups aplenty with enthusiasm to attack the
Americans but who never had any love for Saddam.
One example is the Unification Front for the Liberation
of Iraq, which was anti-Saddam but has now called
on its supporters to fight the American occupation.
In all, The Independent has identified 12 separate
guerrilla groups, all loosely in touch with each
other through tribal connections, but only one
could be identified as comprising Saddam loyalists
the first roadside bomb exploded in the centre
of a motorway median at Khan Dari in the summer,
killing one soldier, it was followed by identically
manufactured mines - three mortars wired together
- in both Kirkuk and Mosul. Within a week, another
copy-cat mine exploded near US troops outside
Nasiriyah. Clearly, groups of insurgents were
touring the country with explosive ordnance capabilities,
organised, possibly, on a national level.
many areas, men identifying themselves as resistors
have openly boasted that they are joining the
new American-paid police forces in order to earn
money, gain experience with weapons and gather
intelligence on their American military "allies".
Exactly the same fate that befell the Israelis
in Lebanon, where their proxy Lebanese South Lebanon
Army militia started collaborating with their
Hizbollah enemies, is now likely to encompass
same men who are going to carry on attacking the
Americans will, of course, be making a secret
holiday in their heart over the capture of Saddam.
Why, they will argue, should they not rejoice
at the end of their greatest oppressor while planning
the humiliation of the occupying army which seized
Posted: December 15, 2003