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William Kulin: Command of Iraqi Guerrillas

Command and Control of Iraqi Guerrilla War


By William Kulin

The Iraqi resistance will continue on its present course of limited engagements with US forces in as many different places as possible. Command and control of a guerrilla war was mapped out well before the invasion of the country last year. By February 2003, about 35,000 Fedayeen (the paramilitary "men of sacrifice" of Saddam Hussein) had been trained for urban warfare. And Saddam also restored ties with Salafi-based Islamic seminaries in Fallujah, Islamic Sufi groups in Tamim, and coordinated a strategy under which these groups agreed to coordinate with Ba'ath Party security committees.

A key element of the resistance was that officially trained Iraqi militias and Ba'ath Party members would not themselves commit to full battle. They recruited civilians, who were given training and equipped with arms and ammunition. These latter forces, mostly religiously motivated zealots, were the cannon fodder. This was amply illustrated in Fallujah, where the leaders and "professional" soldiers had left long before the US assault on the city began.

The fleeing guerrillas took refuge in other parts of al-Anbar province in which Fallujah is located, while their colleagues in al-Tamim, Baquba and Mosul carried out organized attacks. In Mosul, the Iraqi resistance took control of the city for a time and then melted away. The strategy is aimed at spreading US forces and demoralizing the Iraqi troops which fight with them - there have been widespread desertions.

A number of important Ba'ath Party members were assigned to Iraqi intelligence missions abroad during Saddam's time. After the US occupation of Iraq these Ba'athists mostly took refuge in Syria, where they at present form a strong political movement. Similar groups are believed to exist in Egypt, Sudan, Russia, China, France and Libya. Their aim is to organize themselves into some form of a "government in exile".

ENDS

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