Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Quickened Industry

A classified United States government report has concluded that the insurgency in Iraq is now self-sustaining financially. The report, obtained by The New York Times, estimates that groups responsible for many insurgent and terrorist attacks are raising $70 million to $200 million a year from illegal activities. As much as $36 million a year comes from ransoms paid for hundreds of kidnap victims, the report says.

Kidnapping is a flourishing industry nowadays in Iraq. It includes different classes of Iraqis. Head of Iraq's Olympic Committee & other sport officials were kidnapped on 15th July, and till now nothing has leaked about the case. Last May, 15 members of Iraq's taekwondo team were kidnapped between Falluja and Ramadi, west of Baghdad. The kidnappers have demanded $100,000 for their release. The under secretary of health ministry was kidnapped few weeks ago.

As one may notice, it is a good way to make living under the cover of 'resistance' or 'jihad'. All these incidents might be classified as a struggle between an old regime and a new one. Still, there are these kidnaps taking place on backstage. Ordinary citizens are dragged to perturbing circumstances and used as some kind of commodity for gangs of different kinds. One could not be continuously alerted about what he is doing or where he is going.

A college instructor or a school teacher could be targeted for many reasons. A word he/she might say; a low degree to some lazy student; being of a different sect; somebody who wants to replace him/her; not complying with the students' demands; a briefcase in his/her hand…etc.

An example is one of my acquaintances. He is an architect supervising several construction sites in the countryside surrounding Baghdad. The buildings are medical centers. For some problem, nobody aware of, between two militias he has been kidnapped. Resorting to police is completely of no use. So, one has to look for a tribal sheik, a turbaned cleric, or a gangster to be a mediator. The kidnapped has been dealt with as a person of certain sect; a matter which he does not pay much attention to.

Nowadays I hear many bizarre stories about incidents which I had never dreamt of being acquainted with in my life. One of the kidnapped architect's relatives was a high rank officer in the dissolved army. He managed to make some contacts with former colleagues who joined the new Iraqi army. He said that these colleagues had told him so much information about the area where the architect had been kidnapped. They told him which false checkpoint stopped the kidnapped and when. What kind of cars the kidnappers had used and their colors. But he could not understand why the security forces are not ready to make any move.

Baathists are working hard on hampering the immerging crippled democracy. One of their sinister ways is to make sectarian difference contrasts sharply. There are other different parties who find a sectarian conflict is the most suitable bazaar to merchandise their extreme ideologies.

As an observer, I can say that reining in the Shiite militants could be implemented, but the Sunni's is not that easy. It is not because of ordinary people, but leaders adopting a baathi-islamic-tribal perspective won't be able to make benefit out of a democratic system.

The Iraqi society is a tribal oriented one. Tribes are spreading all over Iraq and most of them consist of a mixture of Shiites and Sunnis. Even inside families & among relatives one might find a Sunni and a Shiite. There are no facial features that distinguish one from the other.

Saddam changed the political life in Iraq into desolation. No outstanding political leader or ideology was active inside Iraq before Saddam's downfall. The expected result of getting rid of him was the people resort to tribal & religious institutions. Saddam was aware of it, so he issued an order to the members of his secret agencies, few months before the invasion, to establish their own political & religious parties and to join the other ones. Some secret service men and well known baathists changed to sanctimonious Muslim clerics. These very people are inciting sectarianism. It is important for them and for the neighboring countries that the new Iraqi political process to be eroded by continuous chaos.

The NYT says:
"Mr. Hussein’s erstwhile loyalists, realizing that “it is increasingly obvious that a Baathist regime will not regain power in Iraq,”have turned increasingly to spending the money on their own living expenses. The trail to these assets “has grown cold,” the report adds."
Putting more pressure on Saddam's followers will make them jump off the boat. Most of them are profiteers. By setting an abroad judicial campaign to pursuit them, they would try to keep the money for their own interests and to distance themselves to somewhere away from the Middle East.

The most dangerous funding party is 'sympathetic donors':
"One section of the report is dedicated to the role played by “sympathetic donors,” including Islamic charities and nongovernmental organizations."
There is lot of funding comes from Islamic and Arab world. The main motive for 'sympathetic donors' is fighting the US. It is enough to tell many people that the money he/she donating is going to militants who fight against the US. The US attitude toward the Israeli-Arab conflict (though it is another issue) plays a great role in charging hatred against the US.

The US misapprehension of the real nature of insurgency makes more people change their view of the invulnerable super power. It raises many questions about the real capabilities of the US intelligence service.
"Several security and intelligence consultants said…that the vagueness of the estimates reflected how little American intelligence agencies knew about the opaque and complex world of Iraq’s militant groups."
On ground the tangible result is:
"Several American security consultants, all former members of government intelligence agencies that deal with terrorism, said in interviews that the ineffectiveness of efforts to impede the revenues to the insurgents was reflected in the continuing, if not growing, strength of Iraq’s militants."

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