Sunday, December 04, 2005

Who Is The Enemy? What Are They Fighting For?

US Army admits Iraqis outnumber foreign fighters as its main enemy

Iraqis, rather than foreign fighters, now form the vast majority of the insurgents who are waging a ferocious guerrilla war against United States forces in Sunni western Iraq, American commanders have revealed.

Their conclusion, disclosed to the Sunday Telegraph in interviews over 10 days in battle-torn Anbar province, contradicts the White House message that outsiders are the principal enemy in Iraq.

Of 1,300 suspected insurgents arrested over the past five months in and around Ramadi, none has been a foreigner. Col John Gronski, senior officer in the town, Anbar's provincial capital, said that almost all insurgent fighting there was by Iraqis. Foreigners provided only money and logistical support...

...The insurgents have the support of most locals. "They have the ability to move freely around the city," said Capt Twain Hickman, the commander of India Company of the 3/7 US Marines battalion. "That means they can attack at a time of their choosing."

Col Gronski said the local nature of the insurgency meant that even the few civic leaders prepared to work with the Americans view the fighters as legitimate. "They see them as resistance. They don't view these local guys placing IEDs [improvised explosive devices] and firing mortars at us as insurgents."

...Some Iraqis in Ramadi now adhere to Zarqawi's radical Islamist philosophy, but for most the insurgency is about removing the occupiers, Col Herbert said. "Their family and tribal honour has been impugned if we're on their ground. They're almost duty bound to fight."

Unemployment, which is over 50 per cent, and widespread intimidation are also fuelling the insurgency. "It's economic," said Lt Col Robert Roggeman, who commands the 2/69 US Army battalion. "Two hundred bucks to shoot at an American, 50 bucks to lay down an IED."