Iraq: January 15, 2005


Much more is known about the anti-government movements than gets reported in the media. Every day, members of these groups are captured and interrogated, or their dead bodies identified. Every day, documents are captured as well. While the Baath Party and Saddam era security officers running the operations know how to keep secrets, many of their subordinates do not. Moreover, many Sunni Arabs who believed that the Baath Party could make a comeback, and are now having second thoughts. The Western media, in their quest for bad news headlines (which sell much better than good news headlines), report only the damage to American and government forces. This gives a very distorted view of the situation. For example, the after-effects of the November battle of Fallujah have generally gone unnoted. Since the anti-government forces in the city were smashed (3,000 fighters killed or captured in a two week campaign, losing over 30 men for each American or Iraqi soldier killed), anti-government activity in the area around Fallujah went down by more than half. The media switched its attention to the next most active area for the anti-government; Mosul. But the government had also moved its police and army units to Mosul, and along with American troops, the anti-government forces are getting hammered again. But you'd never know that by depending on the mass media for information. 

With more and more Sunni Arabs deciding that bringing back the old days is not going to work, attention is turning to the movement of money, weapons and fighters across the Syrian and Iranian border. An example of this is a recent public confession by Moayad Yassin Aziz al Nasiri, a commander of anti-government forces who was captured several months ago. Al Nasiri was betrayed by a Syrian intelligence official who defected to Iraq. Al Nasiri himself finally saw the light and agreed to talk openly about the cash and equipment being supplied by Syria and Iran to the anti-government forces. As a result of this confession, and the eveidence seized daily at border crossings, security at the borders has been increased. More troops are at the border crossings, and more thorough checks of trucks and people crossing. The government has warned truckers that these measures will stay in place at least until the January 30 elections are over. But at the moment, hundreds of trucks are backed up at the Syrian border.  The Iraqi and American governments have made strong protests to Syria and Iran about the illegal support crossing the border. But both governments, off the record, plead an inability to stop rogue elements from providing support to the Baath Party violence. Syria has a long history of senior government officials being allowed to have business dealings on the side, in return for loyalty to the Assad family. These days, good business opportunities are to be had from Baath Party big shots. In Iran, Islamic conservative groups are willing to hold their noses and supports Saddams thugs, because they believe America, and sectarian democracy, are a bigger danger than a bunch of Saddam wannabes. While Saddam may be gone, Iraqs long history of bad relations with its neighbors appears to continue.


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