Jewish World Review Oct. 31, 2003 / 5 Mar-Cheshvan, 5764

Jack Kelly

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The attacks indicate that we are succeeding | Largely overlooked by a news media which has honed its ability to miss the significant is that only one of last week's attacks in Iraq was directed at an American target.

The rocket attack on the al Rashid hotel drew big headlines chiefly because it occurred when Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was staying there. Far bloodier were the suicide bombings of the Baghdad headquarters of the International Red Cross (which, like the UN before it, refused protection from American troops) and four police stations. These resulted in 42 deaths and hundreds of wounded, nearly all Iraqis.

In a separate incident, Faris Abdul al Assam, the deputy mayor of Baghdad, was assassinated.

It is likely the attacks were carried out by different groups. The rocket attack on the al Rashid bore the hallmarks of Saddam's Baathist remnant. But suicide bombings are more al Qaeda's thing. A Yemeni with a Syrian passport was captured after a foiled attack on a fifth police station.

Izzat Ibrahim al Douri, number 6 on Centcom's most wanted list, is thought by U.S. intelligence to be running the Baathist resistance. Al Douri is also, according to two captured members of Ansar al Islam, coordinating the attacks of that al Qaeda affiliate.

Cooperation between Saddam and al Qaeda began earlier, according to a report Oct. 27 in the Baghdad newspaper al Yawm al Akhir. The paper quoted "a high ranking Iraqi officer" who said that 10 days before Operation Iraqi Freedom began, al Qaeda representatives had worked out a plan to coordinate combat operations with Saddam's forces.

It is possible the Iraqis were targeted chiefly because they are easier to get at than the Americans, which does not speak well of the capabilities of the terrorists, no matter how many journalists soil their undergarments whenever a bomb goes off.

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But it is more likely the attacks were made on the Iraqi police and civil administration because of successes in building a democratic Iraqi state.

There are now more than 60,000 Iraqi policemen on duty, up from zero the day Saddam's statue fell. Electric power generation is higher than it ever was under Saddam, and oil production is approaching its prewar peak.

What is developing in Iraq is less a struggle against an occupying force than a civil war. While journalists search in vain for "another Vietnam," another Lebanon may be opening up before up before their unseeing eyes. Between 1975 and 1990, civil strife between Lebanese Christians and Muslims backed by Syria and Iran destroyed the only democracy that has ever existed in the Arab world.

James Dunnigan, who runs the website StrategyPage, thinks civil war in Iraq will be more vicious than was the civil war in Lebanon( in which suicide bombers made their first appearance). Sunni Arabs - less than 20 percent of the Iraqi population - will struggle to maintain the supremacy they enjoyed under Saddam Hussein, he predicts.

"The Americans will be withdrawing as soon as there has been a democratic election," Dunnigan said. "This will establish a government run by Shia Arabs and Kurds. Many Sunni Arabs are willing to fight to the death to prevent this from happening. And their foe in this war is not foreigners, but the Shia and Kurd policemen who are restoring order in the country."

But whereas terrorists in Lebanon had lots of popular support, the terrorists in Iraq don't have much even among the Sunnis. Baghdadis interviewed by the Lebanon Daily Star condemned the Ramadan attacks and blamed them on foreigners.

"They are criminals. Syrians, Palestinians and Jordanians from the Arab world," Yassen Saeed told the Star. "Iraqis wouldn't do this."

Iraqis don't support the terrorists, and aren't intimidated by them, said Kevin, a 22-year-old American soldier who has started a web log.

"The Iraqi police were hit the hardest. You would think that many would put down their badges after all the death and chaos. Yet they are still there doing their job. These guys are the fire fighters of 9/11."

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JWR contributor Jack Kelly, a former Marine and Green Beret, was a deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force in the Reagan administration. Comment by clicking here.

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