[Marxism] The resistance(s): Battles in Baghdad, defending Christians in Mosul
ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Tue Dec 7 13:35:26 MST 2004
December 7, 2004
Insurgents as Street Police
Running Battles in Baghdad
By PATRICK COCKBURN
American forces and Iraqi insurgents fought running battles in the heart
of Baghdad yesterday as the latest American losses brought the number of
US soldiers killed in combat in Iraq since the invasion last year close
The battles erupted in the Haifa Street district only three blocks from
the Green Zone, where the US administration and the interim government
have their headquarters. Shooting began when insurgents appeared on the
streets looking for Iraqis who co-operate with US forces. The gunmen
killed one man as a collaborator and then exchanged fire with US troops
in armoured vehicles.
Security in Baghdad is now so bad that when Robert Hill, the Australian
Defence Minister, landed at Baghdad airport last week it was deemed too
dangerous for him to travel along the airport road to Baghdad. He was
unable to visit the Australian embassy.
The number of US soldiers killed in action in Iraq since the invasion on
19 March last year had reached 998 early yesterday morning, according to
the Defence Department in Washington. A further 5,049 soldiers have been
seriously wounded and 4,503 slightly wounded in fighting; another 272
have died in "non-hostile" incidents.
The US losses have risen inexorably despite supposed turning points such
as the capture of Saddam Hussein last December and the transfer of
sovereignty to an interim government this June. There is no reason to
suppose that the election on 30 January will lead to reduced violence.
The main Shia parties, and some smaller Kurdish, Turkoman and Sunni
groups, agreed yesterday to be called the United Iraq Alliance to
contest the election.
The hopes of US generals that capturing Fallujah, the main rebel
stronghold, last month would break the back of the insurgency have been
dissipated by heavy fighting in other parts of central and northern
Iraq. Eleven US soldiers have been killed in combat since last Friday.
In apparent recognition of how dangerous it is for American soldiers on
the roads of Iraq, the US military inflicted only minor punishments
yesterday on 18 soldiers who disobeyed orders on 13 October to drive
unarmoured fuel tankers from Nasariyah in southern Iraq to Taji, north
Iraqis aiding the occupation in any way are being targeted. Seven men
machine-gunned a bus carrying Iraqi employees of a US base on Sunday,
killing 17. The Ansar al-Sunnah Army claimed responsibility for the
attack on its website. "We tell all of those who work with the
crusaders: 'This is your fate sooner or later. We're setting up ambushes
for you. Repent to save your lives'," it said.
Insurgents have made repeated attacks in the past two weeks in Baghdad
and in towns along the Tigris. The uprising has intensified in Mosul, a
city of 1.2 million people in northern Iraq, where guerrillas launched
an offensive last month in which they took over most of the city for a
week. A 5,000-strong police force there disintegrated.
The insurgents say they are trying to avoid mistakes made by fighters in
Fallujah who fought back despite massive US superiority. By contrast, in
Mosul, the guerrillas printed flyers telling their men: "Hide your
weapons and disperse."
The resistance is led by a group called the Higher Committee of the
Mujahedin, formed from six other groups including the al-Qa'ida Group of
Jihad in the Country of the Two Rivers, though its connection with
al-Qa'ida is unclear. The fighters are either former Baathists or
Earlier this year, US intelligence officers in Mosul predicted serious
trouble if Iraqis fighting the occupation joined forces with those who
were against Saddam Hussein. This now seems to have happened.
To avoid alienating locals, especially Christians who are numerous in
Mosul, resistance leaders have not forced alcohol shops to close. In
Fallujah, CD, musical-instrument shops, hair-dressers and coffee shops
had all been forced to close.
The resistance has also reportedly launched a campaign against
criminals, releasing a video showing the beheading of three men who had
kidnapped a Christian shopkeeper. A ransom was repaid.
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