The Implications of the Baghdad Bombing

Unsigned editorial, Al-Quds al-Arabi (Palestinian expatriate), London, England, Jan. 19, 2004

U.S. soldiers search Iraqi civilians in Baghdad
U.S. soldiers search an Iraqi man near the site of the Jan. 18 suicide bombing in Baghdad (Photo: Ramzi Haidar/AFP-Getty Images).
The bombing at the headquarters of the U.S. military leadership in Baghdad killed 20 people and wounded many more. It also scattered the hopes of the ruling U.S. leadership in Iraq, which had begun to talk about a big reduction in the number of resistance operations.

U.S. military spokesmen said that the number of daily attacks had fallen from 45 during Ramadan, to 22 in the latest period. The spokesmen even started to prophesy the end of the Iraqi resistance.

There was a reduction in the number of attacks, but this did not reflect reality. The reduction didn’t show that the resistance had backed down, but rather that it had changed its tactics from quantity to quality.

The resistance’s recent operations have been characterized by high standards—both technically and in execution—and inflicted sizeable losses on the ranks of the U.S. military. The number of helicopters downed by resistance operations increased. In one such crash, nine soldiers were killed in one go.

Shooting down aircraft is not easy. It requires great expertise, prior planning, precise execution and heavy weapons. A resistance that possesses missiles, shoots down helicopters, and attacks military transport planes leaving Baghdad’s airports cannot be dismissed out of hand.

Exactly the same thing can be said about yesterday’s operation that targeted the biggest and most important U.S. military base in Baghdad’s Green Zone, an area regarded as a military fortress that is difficult to infiltrate.

One must caution that the attacks will continue while U.S. forces arrest dozens of Iraqis every day. Some estimate that there are more than 20,000 Iraqis in the occupation forces’ prisons. U.S. forces treat the people of the northern regions, known as the “Sunni triangle,” with unusual severity, even randomly opening fire on passers-by and anyone they consider a threat. They search houses and terrify their inhabitants (especially women and children) on the pretext of searching for weapons and resistance fighters.

The persistence of the resistance following the arrest of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein represents a disappointment for the U.S. administration. This administration continues to make mistakes in Iraq, and is on the point of losing its war not even a year after the occupation of Baghdad. The U.S.-appointed Governing Council has proved its inadequacy and has no popular support worth mentioning. The federal system it supported as a basic condition for stability was rejected by the majority of Iraqis. The proposal only succeeded in uniting neighboring regional powers against it and against the Kurds who alone demanded it.

By any standards, the U.S. administration in Iraq is at a critical stage. There are signs that Iraqis, despite the growing severity of their ideological and ethic differences, have started to come together on one issue: opposing the American presence, a first step toward widening the circle of participation in resistance operations.

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