View Full Version : They’re Beginning to Fight Back

03-26-05, 08:16 AM

From the Editor:

They’re Beginning to Fight Back

By Ed Offley

While most of our colleagues in the mainstream news media attempt to construct analogies between Iraq and Vietnam (this week’s entry: a senior DoD civilian official leaves the Pentagon to head up the World Bank), I am pleased to present a stark contrast.

The Iraqi people – from the uniformed soldiers in the new national Army to ordinary Iraqi shopkeepers and residents – are beginning to fight back against the Saddam Hussein loyalists and their al Qaeda terrorist supporters.

One of the dreariest memories from Vietnam – still clear in mind because it happened over and over and over again, from the Battle of Ap Bac in 1963 until PAVN tanks stormed the presidential palace in Saigon 13 years later – was the image of the little ARVN soldiers running away. We bought them uniforms, helmets and guns, provided food and shelter, supervised their training, advised their commanders. and watched again and again as they panicked and melted away at the first sign of the enemy.

For a time, it seemed that a similar version of this might be happening in Iraq. Newly-minted Iraqi troops and security guards seemed unready for the tough urban battle to create and safeguard their new nation. On any given day, half of the personnel roster would be UA, and those who bothered to show up for a pre-op briefing would more likely than not run for home at the first exchange of gunfire.

But thanks to the unpublicized diligence of American military trainers and their Iraqi counterparts, months of hard work with the various new Iraqi military and security forces are now paying off. The Iraqi units are demonstrating competence and resolve in their missions against the Zarqawi gang and holdout Saddamites.

At the same time, there is a growing awareness throughout Iraq that their new government offers a chance for all Iraqis – Shiites, Kurds and even Sunnis – for a future based on freedom, the rule of law and economic opportunity, rather than the hand-me-down subsistence and blanket oppression from Saddam’s Stalinist regime. Consider some events in the past two weeks:

* On Wednesday, Iraqi commandos, backed up by U.S. military aircraft and ground forces, killed 85 suspected foreign fighters during a massive raid on a guerrilla training camp near Lake Tharthar in central Iraq. The attack caused what officials describe as the single biggest one-day death toll for militants in months. The operation came just two days after terrorists attempting to mount a large-scale attack on a U.S. Army National Guard unit suffered 26 killed.

Obscured in the news accounts of this battle was the fact that the U.S. and Iraqi forces were tipped off to the location of the camp by local residents who cast a vote in favor of the new government by their call.

* When three cars of masked gunmen appeared in the southern Baghdad suburb of Doura on Tuesday, a small number of residents ran to their homes – not to hide – but to get their guns. In a short but fierce firefight, they killed three of the extremists and drove the rest away before they could attack and murder. As The New York Times reported in an interview with one resident named “Dhia” (he declined to give his full name):

“As the gunmen emerged from their cars, Dhia and his young relatives shouldered their Kalashnikov rifles and opened fire, the police and witnesses said. In the fierce gun battle that followed, three of the insurgents were killed, and the rest fled just after the police arrived. Two of Dhia’s nephews and a bystander were wounded, the police said. ‘We attacked them before they attacked us,’ said Dhia, 35, his face still contorted with rage and excitement, as he stood barefoot outside his home a few hours after the battle, a 9-millimeter pistol in his hand. … ‘We killed three of those who call themselves the mujahedeen,’ he said. ‘I am waiting for the rest of them to come, and we will show them.’

* After Sunni terrorists assassinated more than 80 Iraqi police officers and soldiers at four different locations earlier this month, the incidents prompted worldwide headlines. However, a fifth incident went largely unreported until this week.

In Ramadi, a city west of Baghdad that has been a center of terrorist activity since the invasion in March 2003, officials on March 12 found the bodies of seven men in a house on the western outskirts of the city, witnesses later told The Washington Post. Each of the victims had been shot in the head or torso.

It turns out that all seven were foreign Arab fighters who had infiltrated Iraq to commit murder on behalf of al-Zarqawi’s terror network. A former Iraqi army officer stepped forward to say that his family clan had gone after the terrorists in retaliation for the murder of one of their own, as the Post reported:

“ ‘My cousins are the ones who killed them,’ said Jabbar Khalaf Marawi, 42, a former army officer and Communist Party member in Ramadi. Marawi said the slayings were carried out by members of his Dulaimi clan in retaliation for the killing of a clan leader – Lt. Col. Sulaiman Ahmed Dulaimi, the Iraqi National Guard commander for Ramadi and Fallujah – by Zarqawi’s group last Oct. 2.”

Zarqawi, who embraces psychological propaganda tactics as well as execution-style slayings in his attempt to take over Iraq by terror, later posted a note at the local mosque accusing those who killed his followers “followers of the occupiers.” But the Dulami clan had its own response: “[F]or we Arabs, the matter of revenge is like honor. Both are the same for us,” Khalaf Marawi told a reporter. ‘We got our revenge, and we have our precautions. Let them do as they like.’ ”

* Political aftershocks continue to rumble in the wake of the Feb. 28 suicide attack by a Sunni extremist in the city of Hillah that killed 125 Shiite civilians. When news reports appeared that the family of a Jordanian man suspected of carrying out the bombing had publicly celebrated his “martyrdom,” several thousand angry Iraqis circled the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad and the Iraqi government briefly ordered the Jordanian ambassador to leave the country.

The demonstrations forced the Jordanian government to issue a public statement condemning the “hideous massacre” at Hillah and reaffirming its intent to crack down on the terrorists led by Jordanian native al-Zarqawi.

More and more, the Iraqi people are madder than hell about the assaults and murders of the Sunni terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his thugs, and they are not taking it anymore.

For the American soldiers, Marines and other military personnel serving in Iraq, these growing signs of Iraqi self-interest offer concrete evidence that the tide has begun to turn against the Stalinist holdovers and terrorists in Iraq.

Ed Offley is Editor of DefenseWatch. He can be reached at dweditor@yahoo.com. Please send Feedback responses to dwfeedback@yahoo.com. © 2005 Ed Offley.