Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Catholicgauze's Time in Iraq: Part II

Yesterday I answered questions concerning my time in Iraq. Now I will answer, to the best of my ability, questions concerning Iraq and related atmospherics.

Is the War Against Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) Won?

Some bloggers who never were in Iraq and some who were have declared victory. I meanwhile see AQI as lying on the ground, bleeding from all orifices.While near AQI is near death anyone who says they are defeated is wrong. The greater command network of AQI is destroyed so now AQI is more or less a grouping of quasi-independent regions that relay on themselves for logistical support. Right now most of the fighting against AQI is done by the Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police. These organizations still need the help Coalition Forces can supply including advanced targeting and large, overwhelming force.

Is AQI the Biggest Sunni Arab Enemy to Iraq?

Right after the invasion in 2003 it seemed that the former Baathist, Saddam regime would be the biggest problem in Iraq. It was not until 2004 when al Qaeda in Iraq became the top dog of the Sunni Arab insurgency. During 2006, 2007, and 2008 the Awakening Movement occurred as Sunni Arabs rebelled against AQI for its extremism and violent acts against Iraqis. Today, smart AQI members and cells have managed to merge with other insurgent groups to provide cover. Most of these cells have started the transformation from insurgency to general thuggery a la the American insurgent/terrorist group, the Ku Klux Klan.

A group I recommend watching out for is one some army friends told me about. The Men of the Army of al-Naqshbandia Order (JRTN). JRTN has allied itself with the former regime elements in the New Baath Party (NBP) due to NBP's leader, Izzat Ibrahim ad-Duri, being a Naqshbandi Sufi. Soldiers I talked to claim JRTN gains its legitimacy from its religious background, the fact it has former regime members in top leadership, and it does not target local Iraqis. JRTN seeks to avoid the mistake AQI made and thus become the prime Sunni Arab insurgent group. It is rumored by Iraqis that JRTN has ties to the Syrian military as well and has been able to get its hands on some serious firepower like RKG-3 grenades and anti-aircraft weaponry.

Is the Average American Fighting Man Aware of the Geographical/Historical/ Cultural Situation of Iraq?

No. The educational system and the military have failed most of the American soldiers I have met. When someone joined my geography team or worked closely with us it was my job to get them up to speed. I had a nice thirty minute talk about Iraq prepared for anyone and everyone. Everyone in uniform was eager and curious to learn. Unfortunately many had no background on the situation. I was asked by a Navy officer if al Qaeda was a "mostly Sunni" organization. Many had no idea of the differences between Sunni and Shia and why/how it mattered.

Will the War End Well?

The Coalition Forces and Iraqi Army can buy time and further dismantle the insurgent groups. In the end; however, the war's outcome is up to the Iraqi government and the Iraqi people. They themselves must move on from the past few years of slaughter and forgive past sins. Peace is in their hands... if they can all agree to it.

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