The United States was said to have committed a major
error when it dismissed thousands of soldiers and officers who had served in
The Senate Foreign Relations heard testimony from a leading government
analyst that the dismissal of officers and soldiers in May 2003 caused
many of them to join the Sunni insurgency against the U.S.-led coalition, Middle East Newsline reported.
They said this revived Saddam loyalists and made their attacks more lethal.
"It is important to realize that initially most of the insurgents were
truly Former Saddam Loyalists [FRLs]," Ahmed Hashim, a professor of
studies at the U.S. Naval War College, said.
"By fall disgruntled military
personnel with no profound sympathy for the defunct regime but outraged over
the loss of status, privilege, and jobs as a result of the disbanding of the
armed forces in May 2003 had increasingly joined the ranks of the
Coalition Provisional Authority administrator Paul Bremer
has announced an easing of the ban on Saddam loyalists that would allow
thousands of former regime operatives to return to the military. Bremer said
military officers who were not accused of atrocities would be allowed to
enter the army and government.
Hashim, who stressed in his April 21 testimony that he was not speaking
for the naval college, said the capture of Saddam in November 2003 hurt
loyalists. But this allowed the rise to prominence of Islamic nationalists
within an insurgency that had been comprised mostly of former military
"These Islamo-nationalist insurgents showed greater motivation and
dedication than the FRLs or the free-lance insurgents of the early months of
the insurgency," Hashim said. "More ominously the new insurgents showed a
dramatic improvement in small-unit fighting skills during the bloody
outbreak of fighting in the Sunni areas in April 2004. They have shown an
ability to stand and fight, rather than merely to shoot and scoot or pray
and spray as in the past, to conduct coordinated small unit ambushes and
attacks against U.S. forces as in Ramadi in early April, and to press
attacks on supply convoys."
Hashim said the Islamic insurgents have been joined by young men from
Sunni Arab tribes. He said the influx of foreign Islamic insurgents
constituted a force multiplier in that they were willing to carry out
Iraq was approaching the start of a national insurgency, Hashim said.
He said the rise of Shi'ite cleric Moqtada Sadr stemmed from his popularity
young unemployed Shi'ites, particularly in the suburbs of Baghdad and Kut,
where unemployment hovers around 70 percent. But Hashim said the Mahdi Army
still remains the weakest of the major Shi'ite militias.
"If political power grows out of the barrel of the gun, Moqtada has the
least number of barrels in Iraq," Hashim said. "His militia is the weakest
in the country; and it does not even begin to compare with the formidable
militias of the Supreme Assembly of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq ø the
Iranian-trained and commanded Badr Organization ø the DaÔwa Party, and
Hashim warned that the United States would be unable to remain in Iraq
Shi'ites revolt throughout the country. He urged the Bush administration
to develop what he termed a "clear and coherent political goal" that is
believed by Iraqis.
Among Hashim's recommendations for short-term stability include the
increase of coalition troop levels, the sealing of Iraq's borders,
militias, the reconstitution of the Iraqi security forces, including the
recall of thousands of members of Saddam's security forces.
"Creating effective Iraqi security forces is a long hard and painstaking
task," Hashim said. "Moreover, as we proceed in this task the focus of our
efforts should be on the police and the internal security forces, rather
than the New Iraqi Army. Internal security and the re-establishment of law
and order is what the Iraqis need."