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Iraqi Insurgents: Domestic vs. Foreign

by Brendan Lalor

The Bush Administration is quick to oversimplify insurgent elements in Iraq through demonizing its opposition with slogans such as “anti-democratic extremists,” “enemy insurgents,” and “terrorist killers.” These propagandistic tendencies of the Bush Administration make it all the more important for the American public to guard against such unsubtle and premature characterizations. The Asia Times has reported an apparently extensive network composed of mostly native Iraqis opposed to the occupation. These forces claim that they aim to expel the U.S. and set up a secular democracy. If correct, it would be a complete mischaracterization to lump such a group in with fundamentalist al Qaeda forces. Indeed, the Washington Post (26 June) reports

Key Iraqi opponents of the U.S. occupation expressed unease Friday over the wave of insurgent attacks that killed more than 100 Iraqis a day earlier, and rejected efforts by foreign guerrillas to take the lead in the insurgency and mate it with the international jihad advocated by Osama bin Laden.

The objections — from anti-U.S. Shiite and Sunni Muslim leaders, including rebellious cleric Moqtada Sadr, and even from militia fighters in the embattled city of Fallujah — arose in part from revulsion at the fact that victims of the car bombings and guerrilla assaults in six cities and towns Thursday were overwhelmingly Iraqis. But they also betrayed Iraqi nationalist concerns that the fight against U.S. occupation forces risked being hijacked by Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian whom U.S. officials describe as a paladin in bin Laden’s al Qaeda network.

If — note the ‘if’ — there is an indigenous movement for democracy in Iraq which opposes the U.S.’s continued influence — for instance, its opposition to democratic elections and its illegal ad harmful privatization of Iraq’s economy — then the Bush Administration would certainly not want to acknowledge the fact. Instead, it would wish to conveniently lump it together with other opposition and characterize the bunch of them as barbarous, freedom-hating terrorists. While the U.S. State and Defense Departments now admit an insurgency of “thousands of hidden fighters … more organized than previously thought,” they continue to

believe that the insurgency is made up of a small minority of extremists and former members of Saddam Hussein’s government who are bent on disrupting the drive for democracy in Iraq. (Washington Post 25 June 2004)

The Administration wouldn’t recognize pro-democracy forces attempting to expel an anti-democratic occupier if it came across them. Or … perhaps it would.

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