Experts: Insurgency in Iraq lacks popular support, staying power

Sunday, November 23, 2003< /FONT>

The Sunni insurgency in Iraq cannot be sustained for long becaues they garner little popular support and Iraqi and U.S. troops are becoming more effective in security measures, U.S. analysts say.

"The relatively small number of extremists conducting murder and sabotage in the Sunni Triangle have no chance of winning militarily," Karl Zinmeister, a researcher at the American Enterprise Institute, said. "My reading of Iraqi events and Iraqi temperament is that the insurgents also have little chance of winning by non-military means. There is no evidence that they represent a popular movement, or that they enjoy any widespread support. They have no platform, no winning message, no identifiable leaders."

Zinmeister was one a panel of experts who assessed the viability of the Sunni insurgency in testimony to the House Armed Services Committee on Oct. 29. He said U.S. military operations have hurt Sunni insurgents, who have had to increase by five-fold the price bounties on U.S. soldiers and has not succeeded in destabilizing the country.

On Saturday at least 18 Iraqis were killed and more than 30 people injured in two separate suicide bombings in Baghdad, Middle East Newsline reported. Five Iraqi police officers are still reported missing.

Later a civilian cargo plane en route to Bahrain was downed by a missile. The aircraft landed safely at Baghdad Airport but shortly afterwards Jordan's Royal Wings suspended the only commercial flights to Baghdad.

Al Qaida has little future in Iraq, Zinmeister said. The researcher also ruled out an Iranian-style theocracy in the Shi'ite majority community.

"The one factor that could derail Iraq’s gradual rise would be American panic," Zinmeister said. "The Baghdad bombers are not so much trying to influence Iraqis, as to cow the U.S. public and stampede our leaders. If we will be long-sighted and steely, we will realize that there is no reason for alarm."

Michael O'Hanlon, a researcher at the Brookings Institution, agreed. O'Hanlon said October was a difficult month for U.S. troops, but overall trends in American casualties have not worsened.

"Jihadists, including members of Ansar Al Islam and possibly Al Qaida, are a serious problem, and perhaps the greatest reason for long-term worry," O'Hanlon said. "But there are means to deal with them. First, we can improve border security to force the jihadists to enter Iraq in smaller numbers, a policy already being put into effect. Second, we can train Iraqi border guards to help."

In London, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.S. President George Bush said that coalition troops would remain in Iraq even after the June 2004 deadline although Pentagon officials said the U.S. force will be reduced from its present level of 130,000 to 105,000 by May 2004.

Print this Article Print this Article Email this article Email this article Subscribe to this Feature Free Headline Alerts
Search Worldwide Web Search Search WorldTrib Archives

See current edition of

Return to World Front Cover