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Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Friday | March 21, 2003

Pockets of resistance unfolding

I watched CNN for a while last night. They had a reporter with a satellite camera beaming live pictures of 7th Cavalry zooming north in the desert.

For the beginning it was obvious that there was a significant delay as the picture was beamed from Iraq. And it would be logical for CNN to have a delay built in as well. Why? If that convoy was ambushed, and that CNN camera captured a tank going up in flames, I just couldn't imagine it being aired.

Last night, I was just speculating to myself. Today, Reuters confirms my suspicions.

By combining public optimism, a dearth of operational detail and carefully controlled news images of rapidly advancing troops, the allies aim to intimidate and befuddle the Iraqis.

But while the world watches American armored columns race deep into the country, other, messier operations are likely to be unfolding out of the public eye.

So while AP and CNN and Fox all run headlines about "light resistance", check out what Reuters has to say:
But there have been pockets of resistance already in the south, where Saddam's most ill-prepared troops are ranged with defenses pulverized by months of U.S. and British attacks in the no-fly zone.

While the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division advanced from Kuwait at least 150 km (90 miles) into Iraq on Friday and British commandos took the Faw peninsula on Iraq's southern tip, U.S. Marines met tougher resistance at the port of Umm Qasr.

Reuters correspondent Adrian Croft said the Marine unit to which he is attached was pinned down for two hours just inside Iraq by anti-tank missiles and small arms fire, and only advanced again after calling in British artillery support.

"They have experienced more resistance in the south than they expected," John Rothrock, a retired U.S. airforce colonel who fought in Vietnam, told ARD television's Washington studio. "It has not run as easily as expected."

While US Marines have taken the port area of Umm Qasr, defenders are still resisting. And in an act of sheer stupidity, Marines replaced an Iraqi flag flying over the port with an American one. Finally someone realized the mistake, but not before Reuters captured the image and beamed it around the world. Should play really well in the Arab "street"...

Meanwhile, Reuters reports stiff Iraqi resistance in one of the crossing points over the Euphrates river, a town called Nassiriya. No word yet whether the Iraqis have blown the bridges.

This is terrible news. If Saddam's worst-trained, most ill-equipped troops are putting up a fight, it indicates that his best troops -- those holed up in Baghdad, are more likely to fight.

Just remember, this war won't really start until US and UK troops meet the Iraqi front-line defenses. Anything before that is merely a preview.

Meanwhile, things are getting dicier in Northern Iraq, as the US and Turkey continue to argue about Turkey's role in the conflict. The US doesn't want Turkish forces to enter Iraqi Kurdistan, while Turkey is giving the US the middle finger. As a bonus, US planes still cannot overfly Turkish territory.

Posted March 21, 2003 07:57 AM | Comments (171)


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