resistance spreads through Iraq
By Syed Saleem Shahzad
SULAIMANIYA, northern Iraq - As attacks against US targets in central Iraq
increase, many factors in the north and south are combining to add to the woes
of the US occupiers, the US-appointed administration, and their supporters.
Intelligence sources in the northern city of Sulaimaniya say that those
resisting the US presence are on a steep learning curve and that their attacks
will become more organized and ruthless.
According to the local sources, a terror network in northern cities, including
Kirkuk and Mosul, is set to begin operations against US troops and those Iraqis
who support them. News of the northern network emerged during meetings earlier
this week between local intelligence officials of Iraqi Kurdistan and US
At the same time, the sources say that several members of the Pakistan-based
Ansarul Islam militant group have been arrested in Sulaimaniya and Irbil, where
they were been holed up along with foreign comrades. Most of the group's
members have now moved to Mosul and Kirkuk.
There has been a dramatic increase in attacks against US forces, and
casualties, in the past few days. Intelligence officials believe that the
failure of US troops to apprehend the attackers is due to the lack of a local
intelligence network. Work has now commenced on setting up a nation-wide
infrastructure to counter the attacks. Initially, Peshmergas (Kurdish militia)
will patrol the Kurdish region, while the pace of recruitment for the Iraqi
army has been intensified in the cities of Mosul, Basra and others. According
to a US official, the idea is to raise a force of 12,000 which would serve as a
paramilitary force under the US military and help the foreign coalition forces
hunt down members of the resistance movement.
In the south of Iraq, meanwhile, the growing number of anti-US demonstrations
is seen as a possible spark for violence. A US official says: "The Islamic
groups in Karbala and other southern cities have been advised to keep their
demonsrations peaceful and restricted. If these demonstrations continue to be
violent and to be held every day, US forces would consider them as a threat for
them and would be justified in taking action."
According to US authorities the emerging personality of firebrand Moqtada Sadr,
a Shi'ite imam, is widely seen as a new threat in southern Iraq. The new
administration is skeptical about his real designs as he does not seem to be
interested in politics but to be motivated by extreme religious obsessions. His
followers consider him a mehdi (a promised messiah before the arrival of
Christ, according to Islamic faith) and he seems to encourage these trends.
There are suspicions that he is stirring up anti-US sentiment with his vehement
speeches to further his religious ends.
Since US President George W Bush declared the end of the war, anti-US
resistance has taken on new faces. Trained Republican Guards and fedayeen have
regrouped, and Sunni Islamic groups have formed circles of resistance. So far,
the Shi'ites have been watching and waiting. The belief had been that if they
were given adequate representation in a new administration, they would be
unlikely to go against US interests. However, the emegence of a figure like
Moqtada Sadr reveals that there are many ambitious men in the southern region
who have big obsessions and designs and they are growing in appeal in the
Once an anti-US trend takes root in southern Iraq, the security of US troops
will be seriously in question. This is the most haunting question now
confronting the US forces in Iraq.
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