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email received 22 October 2004

I've copied three items/links from NYT which provide further insight into Iraq situation re:
1. Higher level of opposition and funds than thought;
2. Fallujah sheiks want to negotiate; and
3. Pentagon deliberately skews CIA's views of Quaeda ties. This last one is particularly worth reading.
We aren't told in the UK of the Fallujah sheiks wanting to negotiate - it's already been decided to launch massive attack on Fallujah, and I don't think anything can stop it.
"Senior American officials are beginning to assemble a new portrait of the insurgency that has continued to inflict casualties on American and Iraqi forces, showing that it has significantly more fighters and far greater financial resources than had been estimated."

Estimates by U.S. See More Rebels With More Funds

Published: October 22, 2004

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Oct. 21 - Senior American officials are beginning to assemble a new portrait of the insurgency that has continued to inflict casualties on American and Iraqi forces, showing that it has significantly more fighters and far greater financial resources than had been estimated.

When foreign fighters and the network of a Jordanian militant, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, are counted with home-grown insurgents, the hard-core resistance numbers between 8,000 and 12,000 people, a tally that swells to more than 20,000 when active sympathizers or covert accomplices are included, according to the American officials.

These estimates contrast sharply with earlier intelligence reports, in which the number of insurgents has varied from as few as 2,000 to a maximum of 7,000. The revised estimate is influencing the military campaign in Iraq, but has not prompted a wholesale review of the strategy, officials said.

In recent interviews, military and other government officials in Iraq and Washington said the core of the Iraqi insurgency now consisted of as many as 50 militant cells that draw on "unlimited money'' from an underground financial network run by former Baath Party leaders and Saddam Hussein's relatives..

Their financing is supplemented in great part by wealthy Saudi donors and Islamic charities that funnel large sums of cash through Syria, according to these officials, who have access to detailed intelligence reports.

Only half the estimated $1 billion the Hussein government put in Syrian banks before the war has been recovered, Pentagon officials said. There is no tally of money flowing through Syria to Iraq from wealthy Saudis or Islamic charities, but a Pentagon official said the figure is "significant."

Unclassified assessments by some private analysts have recently sounded some of the same warnings. This week, the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, in releasing its annual global military survey, said perhaps 1,000 Islamic jihadists have entered Iraq to join the fight, and it estimated that it would take five years for the American military to prepare Iraqi forces to take over fully from the forces of the United States and its allies.

American military and Pentagon officials continue to hold that as Iraqi security forces increase in numbers and effectiveness, they will be able to gather even more detailed and timely information, an important consideration if the insurgency is to be stifled. Perhaps the most important variable, these officials note, is that a large segment of the Iraqi population still has not decided whether to give active support to the new government.

Despite concerns about foreign fighters, American officials said the most significant challenge to the stabilization effort came from domestic Iraqi insurgents, and not from foreign terrorists, despite the violence of attacks organized or carried out by foreigners.

These officials said that in many places, secular Sunni Muslim insurgent leaders - mostly Hussein-era supporters - were being challenged and even surpassed in authority by militant Sunni activists from inside Iraq. This development presents fresh concerns to Ayad Allawi, the interim prime minister, as he tries to negotiate a political solution to stalemates in places like Falluja, where Pentagon and military officials say the insurgency increasingly is taking on a radical Islamic face.

Throughout the occupation of Iraq, American officials have struggled to construct an accurate portrait of the insurgency they have been fighting. In discussing this most recent intelligence, the officials appeared to present a fuller picture of the security problems than has been provided in previous interviews or other public statements.

But just as some earlier intelligence estimates before the war have proved incorrect, specialists acknowledge that the current assessments, too, are inevitably imperfect.


2.  Falluhah sheiks demand end to air strikes so that talks can resume.

The leaders released a statement demanding that the interim government led by Prime Minister Ayad Allawi arrange a halt to the almost daily American airstrikes in the city and to help families who have fled Falluja return to their homes. If the government met those conditions, the leaders said they would continue talks.............

The sheiks and clerics met in Falluja just three days after the lead negotiator for the city, Khalid al-Jumali, said his team had broken off talks with the Iraqi government and the American military, in part because of the continuing American airstrikes. Dr. Allawi's recent demand that city leaders turn over the Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had also chilled the talks, he said, maintaining that Mr. Zarqawi was not in the city.

"It's a common saying that if you want your orders to be followed, you must order something that people are capable of," Abdullah al-Janabi, the leader of the mujahedeen council in Falluja, said in an interview broadcast by Al Jazeera, the Arab satellite network.

 3. Pentagon reportedly skewed CIA's view of Quaeda tie.


WASHINGTON, Oct. 21 - As recently as January 2004, a top Defense Department official misrepresented to Congress the view of American intelligence agencies about the relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda, according to a new report by a Senate Democrat.

The report said a classified document prepared by Douglas J. Feith, the under secretary of defense for policy, not only asserted that there were ties between the Baghdad government and the terrorist network, but also did not reflect accurately the intelligence agencies' assessment - even while claiming that it did.

In issuing the report, the senator, Carl M. Levin, the senior Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, said he would ask the panel to take "appropriate action'' against Mr. Feith. Senator Levin said Mr. Feith had repeatedly described the ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda as far more significant and extensive than the intelligence agencies had.