Tag Archives: salafists

Salafists Take a Ba’athi?

Unmasking the Insurgents,” by Rod Nordland, Tom Masland and Christopher Dickey, Newsweek, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6885867/site/newsweek/, 7 February 2005 (from Winds of Change and many others).

Newsweek seconds my idea that Zarqawi’s contribution is a will to violence

Interviews with guerrilla veterans of the Iraqi war, tribal leaders and Baathists, as well as American, Coalition and Iraqi officials, make it clear this is not one insurgency, but many. What Zarqawi and al-Kurdi have brought to the fight is not numbers but a particular talent for horror, for videotaped beheadings and for delivering suicide bombs.

The article posits tge same Salafist-Ba’ath connection that I described. My words:

[The Salafists and Ba’athis] have common enemies, and they have long tried to use each other, but they are not friends. I remember seeing pictures of the Ba’athi general and his son who were burned alive in Fallujah. And we have to destroy them both.

which will dissolve in blood:

The Ba’athi strategy is clear:
Remove Sunnis from the transitional government, get multinational forces out of Iraq, kill off the Shia leadership, kill off the Salafist leadership, and seize the country.

The Salafist strategy is clear:
Remove Sunnis from the transitional government, get multinational forces out of Iraq, kill of the Shia leadership, kill off the Ba’athi leadership, and seize the country

Newsweek‘s take:

Barham Salih’s theory: “The Baathists regrouped and in the last six or seven months reorganized. Plus they had significant amounts of money, in Iraq and in Syria.” Those contacts and networks that Saddam’s key cronies began developing months before the invasion now paid off. An understanding was found with the Islamic fanatics, and the well-funded Baathists appear to have made Syria a protected base of operations.

If there’s any disagreement, it’s with Winds of Change’s Dan Darling. He believes that the top free Ba’athi has honestly converted to Wahabism, alienating some fellow Ba’athis.

My view? I stand by the Ba’athi-Salafist marriage of convenience, which will be bloody if they win. I do believe Dan is wrong. The Salafists and the Ba’athis would turn on each other very quickly and if al-Duri is not fully on board with the winners, he would be up against the wall as well.

May free Iraq triumpth, and the Salafists-Ba’athis never have a chance to prove me wrong.

Peacefully Rising

Archbishop Freed in Iraq, but 8 Chinese Are Captives,” by Jeffry Gettleman and Edward Wong, New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/19/international/middleeast/19iraq.html, 19 January 2005.

Given that

1. Most Middle East Oil goes to the Far East, including China
2. China needs more and more oil every year
3. China is stronger every year
4. China has a long and proud history of killing Muslims

One might think that Muslims might take special care to avoid making waves with the Chinese.

You’d be wrong

BAGHDAD, Jan. 18 – Insurgents on Tuesday released a Syrian Catholic archbishop they had snatched from the streets of Mosul the day before, but a few hours later a new hostage drama opened when eight Chinese construction workers were shown forlornly staring at a video camera with masked men pointing guns at their heads.

The eight Chinese workers are still missing, and the only clue to their whereabouts is a hazy video shot in front of a brick wall and broadcast Tuesday on several Arab television channels. The insurgents said in a statement that the Chinese men were working for the American military and demanded that the Chinese government, which has stayed relatively quiet on the issue of Iraq, declare its opinion of the occupation.

The Ba’athi strategy is clear:
Remove Sunnis from the transitional government, get multinational forces out of Iraq, kill off the Shia leadership, kill off the Salafist leadership, and seize the country.

The Salafist strategy is clear:
Remove Sunnis from the transitional government, get multinational forces out of Iraq, kill of the Shia leadership, kill off the Ba’athi leadership, and seize the country

Both groups have been pretty successful at the first step, and are trying their luck at the second.

The luck that the terrorists in Iraq have had in removing Turkish, Jordanian, and Filipino nationals have been disturbing. But China is made of stronger stuff. China did not flinch when neoTaliban captured their nationals in Afghanistan.

Reality determines our policies. To win and spread freedom and peace, the civilized world must stand united against the terrorists. The Chinese are with us.

Anti-Arab Violence

Major Fighting in Ramadi, Mosul, Kut: Son of Sistani Aide Killed, al-Khafaji Targeted,” by Juan Cole, Informed Consent,

Al-Abbudi: Sistani Endorses the United Iraqi Alliance,” by Juan Cole, Informed Consent, http://www.juancole.com/2005/01/al-abbudi-sistani-endorses-united.html, 17 January 2005.

Archbishop abducted in Iraq,” BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4182629.stm, 17 January 2005.

The actions of our enemies over the last few weeks have been brutal, calculating, and instructive

They killed the son of an aid to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani

Ali al-Khatib, son of Sheikh Habib al-Khatib (the representative of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani in Wasit) was shot down in an internet cafe in Naaman on Sunday. His father had survived an assassination attempt two months ago.

They attacked an associate of Muqtada al-Sadr

Al-Zaman reports that the nephew of Ayatollah Hussein al-Sadr of Kadhimayn was wounded and one of his chiefs of security–Jasim Muhammad al-Saadi– was killed on Saturday. Ayatollah Hussein al-Sadr is the uncle of Muqtada al-Sadr but is pro-American and relatively liberal, unlike the populist, radical Muqtada. Hussein al-Sadr is supporting the list of interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, and his bodyguards and nephew were out putting up posters for his “Iraqiyyah” slate (Allawi’s party was the Iraqi National Accord, but not all the Iraqiyyah candidates are INA). Then they were attacked.

They abducted a Syrian Catholic Archbishop

A Catholic archbishop in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul has been kidnapped by insurgents, the Vatican says.

Archbishop Basile Georges Casmoussa, 66, was abducted from outside his church in the east of the city.

Our enemies of not honorable. They are neither soldiers nor warriors. The Salafists-Ba’athists are using the clan structures of the Sunni Arab minority to fight a tribal war. The civil war in Iraq is a terrorist tribal war.

Why have we disarmed ourselves?

They attack male relatives of Iraqi leaders. They abduct peaceful religious leaders. Why do we not respond in kind? Why do we not immediately arrest for the duration of the tribal unrest all male relatives of every known or suspected Sunni Arab insurgent? Why do we allow friendly religious leaders to be kidnapped, but suffer enemy mosques to exist? Why not give every Sunni mosque seized to Shia leaders, for them to oversee as they wish?

The Tipping Point

Mass Resignations Before Iraq Vote,” Associated Press, http://www.sierratimes.com/05/01/16/mass_resignations.htm, 17 January 2005 (from Democratic Underground).

In the past year, the enemy has achieved a tipping point. They have managed to shift the insurgency into a general anti-Americanism into the tribal anti-Iraqi war. The Salafists and the Ba’athists have coopted the tribal structure and removed a functioning government from substantial parts of the country.

In Iraqi’s third cities the process has been helped by the violent reKurdization of the city

(AP) U.S. and Iraqi officials are scrambling to recruit new police and election workers in Mosul after thousands of them resigned in the face of rebel intimidation. A new police chief was appointed a week ago to command a force of barely 1,000 police. Last November the city had 5,000 police.

Not that the Salafists-Ba’athists need the help

Similar mass resignations are believed to have occurred in other Sunni Muslim areas of northern, central and western Iraq.

An uberhawk Pentagon official describes the violence as “extraordinary”

U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz acknowledged that the security threat to the Jan. 30 election was worse than in last October’s nationwide balloting in Afghanistan and that it was impossible to guarantee “absolute security” against the “extraordinary intimidation that the enemy is undertaking.”

The Salafists-Ba’athists are worse than the Taliban

“I would underscore that there was intimidation in Afghanistan — the Taliban threatened all kinds of violence against people who registered or people who voted,” Wolfowitz told reporters Sunday in Jakarta, Indonesia. “But I don’t believe they ever got around to shooting election workers in the street or kidnapping the children of political candidates.”

How Secretary of State designate Condoleeza Rice “dual-track” military-political policy effected this will be left to history. Did not storming Fallujah in April cement the Salafist-Ba’athist tribal links, or safely limit the insurgency only to Arab Sunnis? Maybe both?

What will happen to the Sunni Arab lands? Will they become Iraq’s “West Bank,” ignored and suppressed for decades while the rest of the state progresses? Will it it become a haven for Salafist attackes on Saudi Arabia and Syria (not necessarily a bad thing) or a new Talibanistan for international terrorists (a very bad thing)? Will American-Kurdish-Shia death squads liquidate the insurgency, or will the Salafist-Ba’athists liquidate the free Iraqi government?

The end of a functioning police force in Iraq is an insurgent victory. The election will be an insurgent defeat. What next?

Salafists take a Ba’ath

I only have one question then,” by Thomas Freridge, tdaxp, http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/01/13/a_genius_speaks.html, 14 January 2005.

I only have one question then……why the previous animosity between the baathist party and al-quaida?

There are clear ideological differences. The Ba’ath want a multireligious centralized Arab state. I do not believe it is slanderous that they admired the Nazi Party for nearly achieving this among “Europeans.” While National-Socialists could be Catholic, Protestant, Nordic Pagan, Mystic, etc, all were subordinated in a ethnic-based totalitarian state.

The Islamists (Wahabis, Salafists, al-Qaeda, “al-Qaeda in Iraq” (the old “Jihad and Polytheism”)) want a monoreligious centralized multinational state. al-Qaeda has recruited French, blacks, hispanics, Chinese, Arabs, Philipinos, etc.

I think the struggle in Iraq was so vicious because they were recruiting among the same group — the heavily westernized, mobile, and education Sunni Arab Muslim minority. As the sanctions and the Saddam tyrannt destroyed Iraq, each began to coopt the other’s rhetoric. But they have different utopias — each sees its own “future worth creating.”

Strafor hsa sad that anywhere from a half to two-thirds of insurgent violence in Iraq is Ba’athi. Most of the rest is al-Qaeda and copycats.

If I am reading Zen Pundit correctly, his argument is this: The Ba’ath are functioning in a terror-cell system devised before the war. The terror-cell system is reinforced on tribal and clan lines, which makes it more motivated but less resistant to counterattack. The plan of the terror-cell is to destroy the leadership and technocrats of any government or party that opposes them. They will attempt to do the same thing to our army (the have attempted assassinating U.S. civilian and military officials). They will do the same to any other army in Iraq (say if we leave and Iran, Saudi, Syria, etc tries to invade). If they are current more violent that the rest of the insurgency combined, then I assume that the Salafists will be the next to go after the drive out “foreigners.” And the numbers seem to be on their side.

Al-Qaeda has faith in God. If they win in Iraq, it is due to the glory of God. If they lose, it is part of God’s larger plan. If they die in Iraq, they shall be rewarded as martyrs.

They have common enemies, and they have long tried to use each other, but they are not friends. I remember seeing pictures of the Ba’athi general and his son who were burned alive in Fallujah. And we have to destroy them both.

A Genius Speaks

The Third Baath Coup?”, by Juan Cole, Informed Consent, http://www.juancole.com/2005/01/third-baath-coup-if-as-i-have-argued.html, 13 January 2004.

Neo-Baathism in Iraq,” by “mark,” Zen Pundit, http://zenpundit.blogspot.com/2005/01/neo-baathism-in-iraq-juan-cole-had.html, 13 January 2004.

Zen Pundit is a genius. The first time I went to his site, I scrolled through and chalked him off as a Tom Barnett knock-off. No more. He read the same article I did and came up with a much, much deeper understanding of the situation. Making it doubly embarrasing is that I agree with his assessment. So why didn’t I think of it?

First, Juan Cole’s analysis (with emphasis for what I thought was important)

If, as I have argued, the Baathists along with some Salafi (Sunni fundamentalist) allies are behind the guerrilla war, what do they want? They want to drive the Americans out of Iraq and make a third Baath coup, putting the Shiite genie back in its bottle and restoring Sunni Arab primacy.

A third Baath coup is no more inherently implausible than the first two. The Baathists probably have access to some 250,000 tons of munitions which are still missing. They know how to use them, and have been the managerial class, and many are Iran-Iraq War and Gulf War veterans with substantial military experience.

And this is my problem with the idea of just having the US suddenly withdraw its military from Iraq. What is to stop the neo-Baath from just killing Grand Ayatollah Sistani, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, Ibrahim Jaafari, Iyad Allawi (who is rumored not to sleep in the same bed twice), etc., all the members of the provincial councils and the new parliament, and then making a military coup that brings the party and its Sunni patronage networks back to power?

I think this coup would look more like the failed 1963 effort than like 1968, and has the potential to roil the country and the region for decades. The tanks and helicopter gunships and chemical weapons that the Sunni Arab minority regime used to put down the other groups are gone, and it is not clear that car bombs, Kalashnikovs and sniping could substitute for them. They can probably take the Green Zone and the television stations if the US abruptly withdraws, but could they really put down the South effectively again?

And now… the genius

A Neo-Baathist Iraq – which really means an Iraqi version of Sierra Leone or Somalia is not in American interests. Or in the interests of any of Iraq’s neighbors except perhaps Syria who would gain influence in the Sunni heartland.

Cole has correctly identified, in my view, some key truths about the situation in Iraq. That most our enemies there are driven by the idea of Sunni-Baathist resurgence. That they recruit along lines of family-clan-tribe clientage networks. That the brain of the insurgency are the surviving elements of Saddam’s SSO, Mukhabarat, MI, Special Republican Guard and Fedayeen who are following the old Soviet unconventional warfare doctrine of Spetsnaz forces ( hardly unexpected since Baathist Iraq had a Soviet model military establishment grafted on to a ME society with a decades long relationship with the USSR and Russia ). Soviet Spetsnaz doctrine called for “ Deep Operations”:

Soviet Spetsnz unit personnel however, like the Zarqawri Jihadis, were atomized individuals. The neo-Baathist Iraqi insurgents are not, as Cole pointed out with his reference to clientage networks. You catch and identify one individual chances are extremely high that other adult males linked to the captive by family and marriage ties are also involved. This is the insurgencies Achilles heel. This is also why aggressive Counterinsurgency tactics will put a dent in the insurgency, the culprits are naturally more identifiable unlike with Marxist guerilla movements.

The political bullet to bite is that we have to accept that a fairly significant portion of Iraqi Sunnis are really ” the enemy” now in the same sense that the Germans and Japanese were during WWII and act accordingly. Some of this is our fault for mishandling the occupation but mostly its a vicious group of political gangsters determined to shoot their way back to power and dominance over the Kurds and Shiites. Let’s stop sugarcoating things and face reality – the Sunnis by and large want a new dictatorship that will secure their priviliges once again.

Any prospects for broad-based democracyin Iraq will fail- or even maintaining Iraq’s territorial integrity – unless we can isolate the more politically backward Sunni dominated areas from the rest of Iraq and put the insurgency on the defensive.

Sistani and the Kurds need to face that fact as well.

I agree.

Freedom and Fear

“Iraqi Insurgents Using Bigger Bombs,” by Nick Wadhams, Sioux Falls Argus Leader, Page 1A (from Associated Press).

U.S. claims of the antidemocracy supported by the insurgents

“‘It’s fair to say that they are afraid of the elections, they are afraid of what the outcome will be, and they want to do everything they can to derail that process, because that’s just one more step toward their demise,” U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. James Hutton said.

Seem to be supported by the Sunni Ba’athi-Salafists themselves

In a suggestion that the insurgents were looking for new ways to intimate voters, a militant group posted threats in at least two towns warning it would deploy “highly trained” snpiers to target voters around Iraq during the elections.

While the Shia are desperate for democracy

The leader of Iraq’s largest Shiite Muslim political group said in an interview broadcast Monday that “if elections were postponted, this will lead to a serious legal problem because Iraq will be without a legitimate authority.”

“No legimate authority has the right to postpone the elections because this will lead to more problems,” said Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, head of Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.

Which side supports freedom, and which terror? Which side should we defend, and which should we destroy?