the Disillusioned kid: Support the Resistance? Part 2.
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Sunday, January 09, 2005

Support the Resistance? Part 2.

A while ago I posted some thoughts on "the Iraqi resistance" in which I sought to suggest that much of the thinking about resistance to the occupation in Iraq was deeply flawed. Exoplanet set out some of his disagreements with my analysis in the comments box and I have only now gotten around to responding.

In the original post I contended, "Talk of 'the resistance' implies a degree of homogeneity and coherence that I do not think is accurate." Exoplanet responded,
A common enemy will lead to the most unlikely bedfellows - hence I do believe that there certainly is a level of cooperation amongst disparate groups in Iraq, that the US & Britain did not foresee. Of course it is in the interest of CIA etc to make sure that this does not happen. When I read reports of 'civil war' I ask myself how much of it is genuine? How much of it is caused in part by covert activities?. Agent provocateurs?
I think here there is a fundamental misunderstanding of my point, which stems largely from my overemphasising the extent to which there are open disagreements between groups engaged in armed resistance to the US/UK occupation of Iraq.

In the original post, I linked to this article by Molly Bingham, who was in Baghdad from August 2003 - June 2003 "researching the resistance" (whatever that means). In it, Bingham sets out to demolish four myths about "the resistance" which she believes need to be dispelled. One of these is that "the Iraqi resistance is a monolithic, tightly organized structure with a leadership that can be obliterated and a fixed number of fighters who can be eliminated."
The many levels of violence in Iraq after the US attack on Fallujah last month reveal the absurdity of this myth. Of the 15 resistance members who told me about their lives, most were from the same small neighborhood of Adhamiya in Baghdad, but were not necessarily in the same cell or command structure. By the end of 2003, these cells had grown while maintaining their independence. They were no longer carrying out attacks in their own home turf but were traveling to other areas of the country. The rise in attacks over the past year has been attributed as reactions to the transfer of power to the Allawi government in July 2004, or to the elections in January. However, more likely, it is simply an indication of improved funding, coordination, and resources.
The point being that even groups with shared aims in the same area can be separate. Hence the lack of homogeneity and coherence.

Further, as Rahul Mahajan notes, not all the groups in engaging in armed resistance agree on what they wish to acheive, "Most of the resistance has the goal of driving the foreign occupiers out; other parts have the goal of keeping them bogged down in Iraq." Compare and contrast here the tactics of the Mehdi militia of Moqtada Al-Sadr and Zarqawi's Tawhid wal-Jihad (Monotheism and Holy War).

Exoplanet goes on to recommend this article about the "al-Zarqawi Myth" by Scott Ritter, which I found interesting, but far from compelling. No doubt Zarqawi's influence within Iraq has been massively exaggerated (although I'd place far more emphasis on the interests of western propaganda here, than does Ritter), but to imply that this means he doesn't exist is not something I found entirely convincing. It's worth bearing in mind that during the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, Ritter opined that the Americans would be forced to exit Iraq "with its tail between its legs, defeated. It is a war we cannot win." That he has been wrong before doesn't preclude his analysis being right today, but it is worth bearing in mind.

I could say more, but I have other stuff to do. Anyone with further disagreements is welcome to express them in the comments box.

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