Street fighting?

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Sep 27 09:05:57 MDT 2002


NY Times Op-Ed, Sept. 27, 2002

Fighting Street to Street
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

BASRA, Iraq — To understand why an invasion of Iraq may not be the cakewalk 
that the White House expects, pay $20 (round trip) and board an Iraqi 
Airways flight that soars from Baghdad straight through the 
American-enforced "no-flight zone" to Basra on the southern tip of Iraq.

(clip)

Instead of protecting its borders, Iraq will hide its army within its 
cities, where air strikes are effective only at an unacceptable (for 
America) cost in civilian deaths. Saddam has a hiding place for himself 
that is better than Osama bin Laden's caves at Tora Bora: the teeming city 
of Baghdad, with five million inhabitants, where he already never spends 
two consecutive nights in the same place.

"The Americans are good at bombing," one Iraqi official mused. "But some 
day, they will have to come to the ground. And then we'll be waiting. Every 
Iraqi has a gun in his house, often a Kalashnikov. And every Iraqi has 
experience in fighting. So let's see how the Americans do when they're 
fighting in our streets."

That could be a nightmare. As the last gulf war showed, a bombing campaign 
can knock out bridges and barracks, but unless we're incredibly lucky, we 
won't kill Saddam, trigger a coup or wipe out his Republican Guard forces. 
We'll have to hunt out Saddam on the ground — which may be just as hard as 
finding Osama in Afghanistan, and much bloodier.

Our last experience with street-to-street fighting was confronting 
untrained thugs in Mogadishu, Somalia. This time we're taking on an army 
with possible bio- and chemical weapons, 400,000 regular army troops and 
supposedly seven million more in Al Quds militia.

Karar Hassan, a 22-year-old member of the militia in the city of Najaf, 
said he had just completed a training session in street fighting, including 
fighting house to house and even from trees. "I'll fight them till my last 
drop of blood," he added, in the kind of boast that is heard everywhere in 
Iraq.

"If someone tries to threaten us, we know how to respond," said a farmer 
named Hakim al-Khal in the bazaar of Karbala, and then he reached under his 
shirt and brandished a handgun.


Louis Proyect
www.marxmail.org



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