Saturday, September 02, 2006

The Battle of Baghdad

I'm borrowing the title of a column written by Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad in the Wall Street Journal. It has been well known that the party which takes control of Baghdad would rule Iraq. For that whenever there was a coup, the target of the implementers was Baghdad. There are many examples of failure of those who tried to seize power by setting out their work far from Baghdad. One is a coup attempt by Col. Shaw'waf in March 1959 against Gen. Qassim government. He declared disobedience in Mosul (about 400 Km north to Baghdad). That declaration in a remote city from Baghdad made it easy for Gen. Qassim to crush the attempt.

Another example is the uprising of March 1991 in the aftermath of the Gulf War. Saddam crushed it within two weeks because it had not targeted Baghdad, though the rebels had managed to take control of the southern part of Iraq. Nowadays the former regime leaders, working underground, consider Baghdad as the most vital prize. One of them, Mohammed Younis Al-Ahmed (settler in Syria), gave orders to his followers to intensify their operations in Baghdad. He said that a year ago or more.

It is true what Ambassador Khalilzad wrote:
"Iraq faces an urgent crisis in securing its capital, Baghdad."
But shouldn't it be something expected according to many calls said by terrorists and Saddamists. Sometimes I feel puzzled about the way of work and decisions made by the Americans.

Saddam realized that Baghdad should appear in the most polished image to give unreal impression of stability. He worked hard on that; especially in the last 13 years under the UN sanctions against Iraq. So, one could not feel power shortage or insecure environment in Baghdad. Municipality services seemed good; markets were opened till midnight. Generally, he held Baghdad with a firm grip. Saddam was a man of propaganda and media represented a very essential means for him to reflect a fake image to the Iraqis & the world.

It was expected that the Saddamists would concentrate there effort on Baghdad by causing as much chaos as possible to show unreal image of what's going on in Iraq. Ambassador Khalilzad indicates:
"Baghdad is also Iraq's financial and media center, the latter of which is especially important given that the declared strategy of the terrorists and violent sectarian groups in Iraq revolves around creating a perception of growing chaos in an effort to persuade Americans that the effort in Iraq has failed. Therefore, violence in Baghdad has a disproportionate psychological and strategic effect."
The result would be as Amir Taheri says:

"It would be hard indeed for the average interested citizen to find out on his own just how grossly this image distorts the realities of present-day Iraq."
It is Baghdad which creates the perception for people around the world since most of the media agencies are located in it. And by inciting violence, a distorted image would be conveyed:
"…by reporters, cocooned in hotels in Baghdad, explaining the “carnage” and “chaos” in the streets as signs of the country’s “impending” or “undeclared” civil war."
Mr. Khalilzad says:
"It is understandable that when the American people hear of new U.S. casualties and witness the images of bloodshed from the streets of Baghdad, they conclude that our plans for stemming sectarian violence in Iraq have failed."
I expect the insurgents will increase their operations against US troops in the coming days trying to increase the casualties. It is essential for the Saddamists to turn the public opinion in the US against the Republicans in the coming elections. Though it is not necessary that the Democrats would make a radical change in the US policy toward Iraq, still the reactionary parties in Iraq believe that they consider it one step to victory. A victory which would make the US administration changes its priorities in Iraq by putting a 'stable Iraq' instead of a 'democratic Iraq' as the first priority.

The Saddamists are eager to regain power. But it should be according to their conditions. So, if they manage to retrograde the US goals in Iraq to 'maintain stability', then they might step forward and say we are here to help.

I have not been to the 'green zone' in Baghdad, but I hear a lot about the security measures on entering it. Every car or pedestrian is to be checked carefully using very sophisticated equipment. I wonder why not extending such measures to the districts neighboring the green zone according to some kind of step-by-step schedule. Many other technical devices, like surveillance cameras & balloons, could be used to watch the streets. The Iraqis can not understand what makes the super power unable to tackle the security situation. According to Khalilzad:
"In July, a poll by the International Republican Institute, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to democracy promotion, found that 94% of Iraqis said they support a "unity" government representing all sects and ethnic communities"
Which gives an indication that these who endeavor to undermine 'new Iraq' represent a minority; still they have the determination to frustrate the Americans. Frustration can be provoked through television footage showing the charred remains of vehicles used in suicide attacks, surrounded by wailing women in black and grim-looking men carrying coffins. As Taheri says:
"To make matters worse, many of the newsmen, pundits, and commentators on whom American viewers and readers rely to describe the situation have been contaminated by the increasing bitterness of American politics. Clearly there are those in the media and the think tanks who wish the Iraq enterprise to end in tragedy, as a just comeuppance for George W. Bush."


Anonymous Tatyana said...

Hi, Ibn-Alrafidian,
I find your blog very interesting, with deep analisis of what is going on in Irag and in the Middle East. It's interesting how though we live in different countries our views and opinions on the situation is almost the same. I can't trust any media at all after reading yours and some other iragies bloggers. Me and my family are so greatful to people like you, who informe us objectivily and truthfuly. Do not stop your absolutly great blogging, because people around the world need to know how people in Irag feel and what is there opinion about the situation.

Be safe and God bless you and your Country.

4:49 PM  
Anonymous Tatyana said...

I wonder how many iragies think like you, and how many think of USA troops as ocuppuers and want them to leave? I would appreciate you answering that question.

Thank you


5:04 PM  
Blogger Ibn_Alrafidain said...

Hi Tatyana
I can not give exact numbers of Iraqis who believe in certain point of view or another. But, I would say that there is a wide spectrum of views ranging between the total rejection of any kind of foreign existence to the full collaboration with the US & allies. However, all the parties believe that they are in a deadlock situation. Setting aside the MNF, the most powerful body in Iraq is the former regime institution which has one of the most advanced skills and capacity in the fields of intelligence, insurgency, funding…etc. If the US cut & run there is a great opportunity for the former regime to seize power again.

Thanks for commenting.

6:55 PM  
Anonymous Tatyana said...

Hi Ibn-Alrafidain,
Thanks for your responce. I did think that situation is like you discribe it. But I guess I just wanted to find out aproximate procentage of iragies who understand that with US army leaving Irag all kinds of possibilities of new dictatorships or teocratic regimes are coming into a picture. Also would you please tell me your view on a subject of "the civil war in Irag". Some say:"There is a possibility of a civil war...", the others say: "It's alredy going on in Irag".What do you make of it?

Thank you

6:45 AM  

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