US Military Arming Insurgents....er...."Freedom Fighters"


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Thin Black Line
June 12, 2007, 08:44 AM
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/06/12/niraq612.xml

America arms Sunnis against al-Qa'eda

By Damien McElroy in Baghdad

Last Updated: 8:37am BST 12/06/2007

American military commanders are providing arms to Sunni Muslim insurgents in Baghdad to encourage them to fight al-Qa’eda-linked groups.

Despite fears that militants will use temporary allegiances with American forces to re-arm and gain tactical advantages over rivals, US leaders have approved a series of deals in parts of the capital.

The policy comes as it emerged that American forces were conducting joint patrols with groups of insurgents – who have been re-designated as “freedom fighters” by the Americans – in the Amariyah district of the capital.

Impromptu alliances have emerged after community leaders vowed to expel foreign fighters loyal to al-Qa’eda in at least two districts of the capital.

While the pacts are untested, US officers claim an increase in the number of arrests of al-Qa’eda loyalists and seizures of arms caches.

Maj Gen Rick Lynch said contacts with the Sunnis offered the coalition the prospect of winning over the bulk of the fighters waging a vicious insurgency against the Baghdad government.

“What’s the long term effect of arming members of the Sunni population?” Major Gen Lynch said. “What I’ve seen over time is the Sunni population saying 'enough, we’ve had enough of these attacks’. As a result you see them wanting to arm themselves so they can protect the population mostly against al-Qa’eda. So we’ve got to reach out to them.”

[TBL: We American Citizens will also keep that in mind when future American
politicians speak of disarming us while they allow violent criminals to run
free across our country.]

Al-Qa’eda’s harsh tactics – including punishment shootings and extortion – appear to have alienated Sunni communities who had previously tolerated terrorists.

American commanders have even conceded they may be embracing men with the blood of US soldiers on their hands to see more pressure put on al-Qa’eda.

In Amariyah, troops from the 1st Cavalry Division conducted a patrols with a local group calling itself the “Baghdad Patriots” last week. The patrols appeared to yield immediate results with the arrest of five alleged al-Qa’eda members and the seizure of weapons caches.

The Washington Post reported that American military commanders had granted the gunmen powers of arrest, allowed the Iraqi army to supply them with ammunition, and fought alongside them in street battles. One senior military commander was quoted as saying that American forces “have made a deal with the devil”.

The US said it will use fingerprinting, retinal scans and other tests to establish whether insurgents had been involved in fighting against American troops.

Elsewhere, eleven people died over the weekend in clashes between insurgent groups in Am. Imams in the district gave their backing to co-operation with US forces after a series of unprovoked killings by al-Qa’eda cells determined to impose a strict Islamic code.

In an apparent effort to stop the revolt, the Islamic Army in Iraq – a leading al-Qa’eda aligned insurgent group – last week declared a ceasefire against other insurgent groups.


I did a deployment in Iraq with part of that time in Baghdad. I fail to see how
a retinal scan would determine if someone had pushed the button on an IED
or launched a mortar in the past....

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El Tejon
June 12, 2007, 09:05 AM
When I read stories like this, I always remember the scene from the Lord of War when Nick Cage in the interview room is explaining the facts of life to Ethan Hawke.:D

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXLEhVAyspU

I always get a warm fuzzy feeling watching that part.:)

Thin Black Line
June 12, 2007, 09:08 AM
I never saw LoW and I think I was in Iraq when it came out.

In any case, there's a certain amount of irony here when the US gov't will
trust "former" Iraqi insurgents with automatic weapons, but not a new
generation of Americans.....

El Tejon
June 12, 2007, 09:12 AM
The American government needs to control us so they can tax us to pay for the Welfare State that keeps the government in control.

Titan6
June 12, 2007, 12:01 PM
TBL- I said the same thing in another thread. This is not actually new though and has been going on for some years. Depending upon where you were the militia has played a role since very early on in the war sometimes fighting side by side with us sometimes against us. Sometimes just ignoring us.

I am sure you are aware that this has little to do with the people on the ground. It took a long time but we seem to have come to the stunning realization that the people do what the local chieftan or mullah tells them to do most parts of the country and that is about it. I don't know why we knew this Afganistan and could not in Iraq, but when you consider how poor some of the intel was it is not that surprising.

I never saw LoW either.

MrRezister
June 12, 2007, 12:04 PM
Am I just naieve and/or ignorant in believing that this is exactly the sort of strategy that has come back to bite us in the past?

"Let's help out the marginally-less bad guys until they can kill off or control the really bad guys."? That's it? That's our plan for ensuring stability in Iraq?

I'm just a stupid, cake-eating civilian, but that plan doesn't even pass the common-sense test. The enemy of my enemy isn't necessarily my friend.

Marshall
June 12, 2007, 12:09 PM
You sure we're not just talking them into killing each other?

jselvy
June 12, 2007, 12:16 PM
Who do I have to kill for the Federal Forces to give me a weapon?

Jefferson

MD_Willington
June 12, 2007, 01:28 PM
http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=29c_1181548597

May be arming them, but that doesn't mean they can shoot...

Lone_Gunman
June 12, 2007, 01:52 PM
Our leaders havent done anything right in Iraq since Saddam was captured.

Zoogster
June 12, 2007, 02:53 PM
This is because they are likely to be pulled out after the next election. They no longer have visions of peace there or accomplishing that goal before they leave. The best they can hope for now is the elimination of who they see as the worst people to leave around to grab power when they pull out. Who better to hunt down al-Qa’eda forces than the very Sunni that share the same branch of Islam and therefore deal directly with them?

Will some of the help end up in al-Qa’eda's hands? You bet. Will some of these people used to kill off al-Qa’eda look around for thier new enemy later which could be Americans or most definately Shiite backed government's like the one in Iraq? Yes.

Remember that al-Qa’eda itself has its roots in just this type of power play. People armed and trained through American and Pakistani (as the middlemen for America) intelligence to be the best terrorists possible in order to fight the Soviets invading Afghanistan. Bin Laden was but a wealthy son at that time who traveled to help other Muslims fight Jihad against the soviets.

It was during that time that he became sophisticated. It was at that time that formal and organized training for terrorism began. When entire camps dedicated to teaching people how to operate in cells, or on thier own, to build weapons on location from common supplies etc began. Where these actions and Islam were entertwined and reinforced through teaching creating a fighting force that never loses morale (something already being done by Arab writers since the creation of Israel, so sources for such propoganda was widely available to modify and distribute for the purpose at hand).

Had we not created this Islamic weapon then we might not be facing them now. However the Soviet Union may not have gone broke fighting it either, and we may have actualy had World War 3 like both sides had been preparing for and come close to for decades. So a greater threat fell. Of course after the soviets fell they would look for a new enemy. Bin Laden offered his forces to Saudi Arabia to fight Saddam instead of having Americans come in at the time of the first Gulf War. They not only refused, but they permanently exiled him from the country as a threat. His path towards targeting America began then.

No doubt similar people and organizations will form from current policy. However they are also able to document who is being used to fight al-Qa’eda. They will know who the people inclined to be fighters are from this tactic. Currently unknown insurgents will become documented fighters who can be hunted down more easily later if the need arises. They are working with very limited time and the best they can hope for is the elimination of the biggest organized threats before leaving the country ripe for civil war and power grabs without those threats present when they pull out.

This will give a better chance for what emerges to succeed. This is not what people want to hear so they are not going to be told it. But the military brass no doubt knows that after the next election the operations in Iraq will be forced to cease. Only small clandestine operations and intelligence personal will be able to dictate things on the ground after the American forces are withdrawn. So they are creating a better environment for that now. They cannot work with al-Qa’eda, so they must be killed off before support is withdrawn along with other organized threats. However simply killing them off would not stop them from coming right back after we left. Making them enemies of the people that will still be there and they depend on for support however will be more decisive.

However one of the interesting things about the term al-Qa’eda is that you can say anyone has links to al-Qa’eda because what is a link? Technicaly America has links to al-Qa’eda, and anyone in the business of world politics or warfare has links to al-Qa’eda just like they have links to eachother.

However that term allows groups at will to be lumped in with those who attacked Americans and therefore basicly allows unopposed unrestricted actions to be taken against them and thier assets if they are deemed a problem.

Of course telling the American troops or public what they are fighting for now is not a wonderful Iraq, but the lesser of many evils before withdrawing would be a serious blow to the morale of the fighting force so they could never do that. Instead they keep up the pretense of a great Iraq while doing all they can to identify the key leaders in the future power play and mapping out thier organizations so the Intelligence people have something to work with later on. This means they must pit them against eachother and work side by side with some of them to gain more knowledge. It also means they must get rid of the elements not fighting for Iraqi reasons such as al-Qa’eda types so that only people with clear logical motives centered in Iraq are present in force during the upcoming civil war. That way whoever wins, they will control Iraq for the benefit of some in Iraq, not as a tool in some global ongoing war that will then need to branch out.

You cannot get rid of deeply embeded insurgents as an outsider. You must embrace people that have fought you and killed your own troops who are actualy capable of doing it at a much faster pace because they are closer to them than you are. Al-Qa’eda is Sunni. If we can divide al-Qa’eda from the Sunni population in Iraq prior to withdrawing from Iraq then we are more likely to be able to work with the forces that come to control Iraq after we withdraw. Unfortunately they are working on a very limited timeline and this is the best strategy available. The perfect Utopia and "free Iraq" is not going to emerge before we withdraw. So it is time to start stacking the deck in the favor of US interests prior to withdrawing. That means dividing true Iraqi patriots (both our friends and enemies) from foriegn fighters, and mapping out the organizations and personel in control so agencies like the CIA know what they are dealing with when we no longer have forces on the ground.

Art Eatman
June 12, 2007, 03:13 PM
The way I read it, even the Sunnis are fed up with outsiders from Syria and Iran coming in and both fomenting locals to go to shooting, plus being shooters, themselves.

It has long been the case in the Arab world that "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." That holds as long as the enemy is mutual. The friendship ends with the end of the enmity with a mutual enemy. That's what we did not learn from the USSR/Afghan issue.

Stipulate for the moment that this Sunni effort does indeed help end the Al Qaida problem in Iraq. We pull back from any perceived sort of "occupation" duty, and the Sunnis then revert to enmity with the Shiites--and the Shiites are more numerous. If the end of active shootings then permits an inflow of serious oil money, any reasonable amount of prosperity can make for a quieter Iraq.

IOW, it's a "wait and see" deal, coupled with, "Let us pray."

Art

Titan6
June 12, 2007, 03:35 PM
You have the right idea Art. But everyone knows the next president will be elected on the basis of ending the war, therefore the clock is ticking. My upcoming tour will likely be my last and hopefully now that we are getting pointed in the right direction most effective.

The president is right. If we pull out now the country will fall into anarchy from the power vacuum. This will create all kinds of chaos in the region. So hope and prayer are certainly in the plan.

slewfoot
June 12, 2007, 03:38 PM
We should have been arming the Sunni tribes from the beginning.

cbsbyte
June 12, 2007, 03:45 PM
I say arm all sides, then pull our forces out and let them kill each other off.

wjustinen
June 12, 2007, 04:19 PM
it is always the .gov forces, the insurrgent forces, the warlords, the rebels, the militias that are armed. Never the average joe. In any situation of this type the factions causing the problems are always a small part of the population and their support from the "civilian" population is at best tenuous.

That support is often passive, fueled by fear of the "rebels" or hatred of the .gov forces. Solution: arm the "civilian" population, remind them that it is their country - not the .gov or rebel - and let them work it out.

Unfortunately, that flies in the face of the desire to "support" a government that will be on "our side." Government should only represent their citizens, not someone elses interests.

2A is simply a statement of a right that belongs to everyone, everywhere; the reason given for not allowing infringement applies to every nation struggling with vicious .gov vs rebel violence in which the civilian population suffers untold harm.

Caimlas
June 12, 2007, 08:27 PM
"Let's help out the marginally-less bad guys until they can kill off or control the really bad guys."? That's it? That's our plan for ensuring stability in Iraq?

I'm just a stupid, cake-eating civilian, but that plan doesn't even pass the common-sense test. The enemy of my enemy isn't necessarily my friend.


Some would say that the point of being there is either to establish and hold a beachhead for an eventual attack into Iran and Syria, and/or to destabilize the region to drive up the price of oil of those who have oil in other parts of the world - Venezuela, the US, Northern Europe, and Russia, as far as I know. Considering that certain US officials has been kinda buddy-buddy with VZ lately, and that the others are "the usual suspects" in terms of establishment control, well... it at least sounds plausible from this layman's perspective.

jselvy
June 12, 2007, 08:48 PM
Why don't we just airdrop Liberators all over the place and let 'em get on with it?


Jefferson

Prince Yamato
June 12, 2007, 08:58 PM
You know, all along, I've wondered, "why don't we just let the SOBs kill each other"...

Thin Black Line
June 13, 2007, 12:41 AM
Am I just naieve and/or ignorant in believing that this is exactly the sort of strategy that has come back to bite us in the past?


I believe this is called "blowback" and yes it has.

May be arming them, but that doesn't mean they can shoot...

This was fairly typical given the couple of times I saw training done by both
Army and PCs of IA in different locations. Not surprising given that they
collectively threw down their arms under Saddam when we invaded. However,
it seems every Iraqi household was allowed to have firearms, even full auto
AKs, under Saddam.

When will a freedom-loving American president undo 1986?

nemoaz
June 13, 2007, 04:08 AM
Sunnis and Shias are going to kill. Sometimes themselves, sometimes each other. Our policy should be to get out of the way... and assist them in killing each other as much as possible.

And the down side is........

LAK
June 13, 2007, 12:31 PM
Wasn't Saddam Hussein keeping these people under control to begin with?

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ilcylic
June 13, 2007, 12:41 PM
Oh, hey, I've got a great idea! I heard there's this guy that wants to fight our enemies too! Let's give him guns. He had a really wierd name though. Usa... osaa... Osama. That was it. Osama Bin Laden. He helped before, maybe he can help again!

What could possibly go wrong!

davec
June 13, 2007, 08:26 PM
Who blew up that mosq today?

ServiceSoon
June 13, 2007, 09:37 PM
Sunnis and Shias are going to kill. Sometimes themselves, sometimes each other. Our policy should be to get out of the way... and assist them in killing each other as much as possible.

And the down side is........

We would save billions and billions and billions of dollars that could be given back to the people who this money was taken from, cure cancer, build a giant wall on the US/Mexican border, finally build flying cars, solve world hunger..... :p

shooter503
June 13, 2007, 10:37 PM
The new tactic can work in Afghanistan but not in Iraq. If a country is divided into small factions you can divide and conquer but this is not the case in Iraq, there are only the two major power blocks. The Kurds need not get involved, they only need to wait for a weakened and bloody victor from the Sunni/Shiite fight and then declare independence.

The Shiites will hate the new US tactic because they see it will increase their problems with the Sunnis in the future. This tactic will eventually unite the Shiites against the US and increase the prestige of AlSadr. Of course, even if Al Quaida is crippled, the Sunnie/Shiite clash is inevitable - and the Sunnis will be fighting with arms provided by the US. If the US tries to enforce a truce between the two sides they will both turn on the US in the belief that the US is giving more support to the other side. This new policy is a short ride to nowhere.

Despite the declared reasons(s), the underlying motive for the US entering Iraq was to secure oil and to establish large permanent land bases in the region. In the background you will see the US is still trying to complete this basic plan regardless of the Iraqi security situation. Access to the oil and land bases was possible if the Neocon pipe dream of welcoming Iraqis had been successful. Unfortunately we are now not only blowing billions of dollars on day to day combat we are also spending billions of dollars on an embassy and ground bases that will never be used.

Number 6
June 13, 2007, 11:00 PM
Arming locals is one strategy for fighting an insurgency that has been used before to great effect. When the US was helping the Guatemalans during their civil war, one tactic was to arm the indigenous tribes in the countryside. We gave them a bunch of M1 Carbines and told them that anyone that does not "belong" they could kill. This tactic essentially pacified a large area with relatively little cost. Yes, there were human rights abuses by those we armed. Yes, they did go off with the weapons we gave them and settled some personal scores. But, those are the costs of fighting an insurgency. Fighting insurgencies is a dirty business, and dealing with unsavory characters is just one of the costs.

shooter503
June 13, 2007, 11:10 PM
That's the point Number 6. You can divide and conquer if you have a large number of small groups who dislike each other, control their own ground and who are not strong enough to emerge as the single most powerful group at the end of the conflict.

Unfortunately, in Iraq there is going to be a clear winner after the conflict ends - and both the Shiites and the Sunnis want to be that winner. They will fight anyone who blocks that ambition.

nemoaz
June 13, 2007, 11:13 PM
Who blew up that mosq today?

Who cares?

Number 6
June 14, 2007, 07:01 AM
That's the point Number 6. You can divide and conquer if you have a large number of small groups who dislike each other, control their own ground and who are not strong enough to emerge as the single most powerful group at the end of the conflict.

Unfortunately, in Iraq there is going to be a clear winner after the conflict ends - and both the Shiites and the Sunnis want to be that winner. They will fight anyone who blocks that ambition.


Well that is the $25,000 question; can this work in Iraq? I think it has a possibility, if those running the show can restrain those that they arm. Its a big if, but I still place that in the realm of possibility.

Remember, this strategy has had a lot of success in Al Anbar, but that region is pretty homogenous. Baghdad is a different story, however.

Titan6
June 14, 2007, 09:35 AM
Well, the current train of thought is that while it may not work it can hardly make things worse.

If the Shia were serious about stopping the fighting they would have taken Al Queda and foreign infiltrators to task long ago. By making overtures to the other side we are putting them in the position of either keeping their word or facing a tougher internal enemy after we leave.

There is another reason as well. It as largely believed by some troops on the ground (and perhaps others) that a genocide may take place after departure. Will it is unlikely to do much good this may help mitigate that possibility.

Prince Yamato
June 14, 2007, 01:19 PM
You know, the sad thing is, if these people were even remotely civilized, they could have taken the near trillion dollars we gave them and built their country into a shining example of modern middle eastern democracy. Instead they pissed away every chance they had to settle scores in what is effectively a turf war over who gets to control a particular sandlot. I say, give the Sunnis the guns tell 'em to defend themselves, then dump all remaining funding into Kurdistan. Of course, then the Kurds will probably use the money we give them to fight it out with the Turks...

LAK
June 15, 2007, 06:52 AM
Those dominating the country were very civilized. More so per capita than most of the rest of the middle east.

We destroyed their infrastructure, took actual control of a very limited fraction of the country, and dithered around with a grossly undermanned and equipped occupation force with nothing to replace that which had previously kept the uncivilized in check throughout the whole country.

It is argueably a good idea to kill a rattlesnake in the yard; but you don't go around decapitating gopher snakes - unless you really like rats, mice and other vermin.

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