Thursday | July 24, 2003
The war moves north
By Steve Gilliard
Despite the killing of the Hussein brothers, the guerrilla war has quietly expanded beyond the "Sunni belt" of Baghdad, Fallujah and Tikrit. In the last few days five soldiers have been killed and eight wounded in Mosul.
It is pretty unlikely that this combat is related to the fate of the Husseins, since the first killings happened at the same time as the attacks on them. What it does indicate is something far more important.
US-Arab relations in Mosul have been tense since the early days of the occupation, after several people were shot during a protest. But the increase pace of the attacks in the region could mean something more onimous and driven by more than "Baathists" remnants.
It is clear that the Sunni tribal leaders of central Iraq have declared war on the US. The Jubbur tribe are opposing the anti-partisan sweeps they have been subjected to and protecting the foreign volunteers who have come to fight the Americans. Saddam's money may have gotten them started, but the professionalism and planning involved mitigates against the use of idealistic volunteers in large, distinct groups like the Taliban.
What the attacks in Mosul mean is that those tribal groups have decided to oppose American occupation and shield guerrillas. Maybe it's Saddam's money, but if that were the case, why have the Kurds remained silent. Pro-Saddam activity of any sort, especially in Mosul, should raise their hackles. Especially after months of forcing Arab relocation from land seized by Saddam. Wouldn't Arab guerrillas have a lot of scores to settle with the Kurds as well? Becoming a Kurdish security problem.
But like with the Shia, they sit on their hands. They offer limited cooperation to the US, more than the Shia, obviously, but not full cooperation. The Kurds clearly worry about being betrayed by the US and having divisions of Turks flood across their borders. If the US is fighting an insurgency, they will need Kurdish help in the region.
It may well be in their interest to express indifference as anti-US Sunni guerrillas move north and attack the US.
The Syrians and Turks could also have reasons to secretly fund and ignore a Sunni resistance in the region. The Syrians want to keep the US off balance, the Turks want conditions to deteriorate to the point that they will request help.
While the simpleminded US media will continue to make links between the attacks and the death of the Hussein bros, politics makes is clear that many groups have plenty of non-Saddam reasons to see Americans trapped in combat in northern Iraq.Posted July 24, 2003 10:04 AM