[Marxism] Anbar: no man's land for USA
lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Nov 28 07:39:39 MST 2006
Anbar Picture Grows Clearer, and Bleaker
By Dafna Linzer and Thomas E. Ricks
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, November 28, 2006; A01
The U.S. military is no longer able to defeat a bloody insurgency in
western Iraq or counter al-Qaeda's rising popularity there, according to
newly disclosed details from a classified Marine Corps intelligence report
that set off debate in recent months about the military's mission in Anbar
The Marines recently filed an updated version of that assessment that stood
by its conclusions and stated that, as of mid-November, the problems in
troubled Anbar province have not improved, a senior U.S. intelligence
official said yesterday. "The fundamental questions of lack of control,
growth of the insurgency and criminality" remain the same, the official said.
The Marines' August memo, a copy of which was shared with The Washington
Post, is far bleaker than some officials suggested when they described it
in late summer. The report describes Iraq's Sunni minority as "embroiled in
a daily fight for survival," fearful of "pogroms" by the Shiite majority
and increasingly dependent on al-Qaeda in Iraq as its only hope against
growing Iranian dominance across the capital.
True or not, the memo says, "from the Sunni perspective, their greatest
fears have been realized: Iran controls Baghdad and Anbaris have been
marginalized." Moreover, most Sunnis now believe it would be unwise to
count on or help U.S. forces because they are seen as likely to leave the
country before imposing stability.
Between al-Qaeda's violence, Iran's influence and an expected U.S.
drawdown, "the social and political situation has deteriorated to a point"
that U.S. and Iraqi troops "are no longer capable of militarily defeating
the insurgency in al-Anbar," the assessment found. In Anbar province alone,
at least 90 U.S. troops have died since Sept. 1.
The Post first reported on the memo's existence in September, as it was
being circulated among military and national security officials. Several
officials who read the report described its conclusions as grim.
But the contents have not previously been made public. Read as a complete
assessment, it paints a stark portrait of a failed province and of the
country's Sunnis -- once dominant under Saddam Hussein -- now desperate,
fearful and impoverished. They have been increasingly abandoned by
religious and political leaders who have fled to neighboring countries, and
other leaders have been assassinated. And unlike Iraq's Shiite majority, or
Kurdish groups in the north, the Sunnis are without oil and other natural
resources. The report notes that illicit oil trading is providing millions
of dollars to al-Qaeda while "official profits appear to feed Shiite
cronyism in Baghdad."
As a result, "the potential for economic revival appears to be nonexistent"
in Anbar, the report says. The Iraqi government, dominated by
Iranian-backed Shiites, has not paid salaries for Anbar officials and Iraqi
forces stationed there. Anbar's resources and its ability to impose order
are depicted as limited at best.
"Despite the success of the December elections, nearly all government
institutions from the village to provincial levels have disintegrated or
have been thoroughly corrupted and infiltrated by Al Qaeda in Iraq," or a
smattering of other insurgent groups, the report says.
The five-page report -- written by Col. Peter Devlin, a senior and seasoned
military intelligence officer with the Marine Expeditionary Force -- is
marked secret, for dissemination to U.S. and allied troops in Iraq only. It
does not appear to have been made available to Iraqi national forces
fighting alongside Americans.
The report, "State of the Insurgency in Al-Anbar," focuses on conditions in
the province that is home to 1.25 million Iraqis, most of whom live in
violence-ridden towns such as Fallujah, Haditha, Hit, Qaim and Ramadi.
Devlin wrote that attacks on civilians rose 57 percent between February and
August of this year. "Although it is likely that attack levels have peaked,
the steady rise in attacks from mid-2003 to 2006 indicates a clear failure
to defeat the insurgency in al-Anbar."
Devlin suggested that without the deployment of an additional U.S. military
division -- 15,000 to 20,000 troops -- plus billions of dollars in aid to
the province, "there is nothing" U.S. troops "can do to influence" the
He described al-Qaeda in Iraq as the "dominate organization of influence in
al-Anbar," surpassing all other groups, the Iraqi government and U.S.
troops "in its ability to control the day-to-day life of the average Sunni."
Al-Qaeda itself, now an "integral part of the social fabric of western
Iraq," has become so entrenched, autonomous and financially independent
that U.S. forces no longer have the option "for a decapitating strike that
would cripple the organization," the report says. That is why, it says, the
death of al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in June "had so
little impact on the structure and capabilities of al-Qaeda," especially in
The senior intelligence official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity
because of the sensitivity of his work, said yesterday that he largely
agrees with Devlin's assessment, except that he thinks it overstates the
role of al-Qaeda in the province. "We argue that it is a major element in
Anbar, but it is not the largest or most dominant group," he said.
In a final section of the report, titled "Way Ahead," Devlin outlined
several possibilities for bringing stability to the area, including
establishing a Sunni state in Anbar, creating a local paramilitary force to
protect Sunnis and to offset Iranian influence, shifting local budget
controls, and strengthening a committed Iraqi police force that has "proven
remarkably resilient in most areas."
Devlin ended the assessment by saying that while violence has surged, the
presence of U.S. troops in Anbar has had "a real suppressive effect on the
insurgency." He said the suffering of "Anbar's citizens undoubtedly would
be far worse now if it was not for the very effective efforts" of U.S. forces.
The Marine Corps headquarters had no comment on the August report or the
updated assessment, Lt. Col. Scott J. Fazekas, a spokesman, said yesterday.
Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.
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