Carnage Continues With 27 Dead

Carnage continues With 27 Dead

Bombings and assassinations resulted in at least 27 deaths in Iraq on Monday. Not only was a bomb exploded outside the headquarters of interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi’s Iraqi National Accord party (killing four and wounding 24), but another blast went off outside the Green Zone that houses government offices and the US embassy. In Dujail a car bomber blew up a national guard station, killing 7 and wounding 8. Another such incident targeted national guardsmen at a checkpoint outside a US military base near Balad. In a gruesome incident at Tel Afar in the Turkmen north, a policeman was killed when he approached a decapitated body that had been booby-trapped with a bomb.

General Muhammad Abdullah Shahwani, head of Iraqi intelligence, estimated on Monday that the force strength of the guerrilla insurgency was about 200,000 men. My own estimate had been 100,000. The US military used to say 5,000, then started saying 20,000- 25,000, but frankly I don’t think they have any idea. My colleague, military historian Tom Collier, suggested at a panel we were on that you can usually safely triple the US military estimate of the numbers of the enemy in a guerrilla conflict.

But Shahwani’s estimate would make a lot of sense. Surely it is obvious that the US is at least evenly matched with the guerrillas for person-power, and maybe outgunned. The US assault on Fallujah may as well not have been mounted for all the dent it has made in the guerrilla war. If you can put 3,000 guerrillas out of commission and capture a major base and that makes no difference, then you are not dealing with a force of 25,000, now are you?

Iraqi Defense Minister Hazem Shaalan has started talking about the possiblity of postponing the elections scheduled for January 30 if a way can be found to convince Sunni Arabs to participate at a slightly later date. This is the first time I can remember a high-up member of the Allawi clique talking like this, and it shows they are afraid of something.

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