BBC carried this:
I am staggered that the 'multi-national forces' would simply release these
figures, since they blatantly undermine everything that they have said about
the resistance. Nevertheless, there they are for you: even after the attack
on the al-Askari shrine, which was supposed to inaugurate the transition from
resistance to civil war, the vast preponderance of attacks are on coalition
troops, with a much smaller number on their Iraqi auxiliaries and even less
on civilian targets: this despite the fact that sectarian violence has increased
(thanks in large part to the pro-occupation Badr Corps and the
Special Police Commandos set up by Steven Casteel, a man with a great deal
of experience in the use of death squads). The BBC also mentions the official
estimates of the scale of the resistance: all, certainly, underestimates. The
occupiers say between 8,000 and 20,000, but they openly boast of having killed
many more resistance fighters than that. The puppet government says it has 40,000
fighters plus 160,000 supporters. Let me give you some details from that Hashim
book I was citing the other day - here is a list of some insurgent groups in
Iraq, with a bit of detail about who they are and estimated size where possible:
The General Command of the Armed Forces, Resistance and Liberation in Iraq
- former Iraqi military personnel, security and intelligence.
Popular Resistance for the Liberation of Iraq - little-known Iraqi group
calls for Arab and Muslim solidarity.
Iraqi Resistance and Liberation Command - secular and nationalist group,
calls for "jihad until the liberation of Iraq" (this religious language
is not at all uncommon among secular groups).
Al 'Awdah (The Return) - also largely former military, pro-Ba'ath, possibly
on the 'restorationist' wing of the resistance.
Harakat Ra's al-'Afa (Snake's Head Movement) - also Ba'athist, some links
to Sunni Arab tribes around Fallujah and Ramadi.
Nasserites - pan-Arab nationalists, with little support in Iraq.
Thawwar al-'Arak-Kata'ib al-Anbar al-Musallallah (Iraq's Revolutionaries
- Al-Anbar Armed Brigades) - an anti-Saddam nationalist insurgent group based
in the Anbar province.
General Secretariat for the Liberation of Democratic Iraq - a leftist, anti-Saddam
Higher Command of the Mujahideen in Iraq - in 2003, they had 8,000 people.
This is one of the most active resistance groups in Iraq. Although it states
that it supports an Islamic state, it includes both Islamists and secularists.
Munazzamat al-Rayat al-Aswad (Black Banner Organization) - both nationalist
and religious, supports attacks on the oil infrastructure.
Unification Front for the Liberation of Iraq - anti-Saddam and anti-Baath.
National Front for the Liberation of Iraq - incorporates both former Republican
Guards and Islamists, apparently tried to assassinate Ahmed Chalabi, but sadly
Jaish Ansar al-Sunnah - no figures available, but apparently one of the largest
groups in Iraq, incorporating both Kurdish and Sunni Arab Islamists.
Mujahideen al ta'ifa al-Mansoura (Mujahideen of the Victorious Sect) - Salafist
movement, includes non-Iraqi fighters.
Kata'ib al Mujahideen fi al-Jama'ah al-Salafiyah fi al-'Arak (Mujahideen
Battalions of the Salafi Group of Iraq) - Salafist group with some connections
to what was the Afghan mujahideen.
Jihad Brigades/Cells - guerilla fighters, little known about them.
Armed Islamic Movement of the Al Qaeda Organization, Fallujah Branch - a
little known group, apparently has some amount of support in the city.
Jaish Muhammad (Army of Muhammad) - no numbers again, but apparently one
of the largest resistance movements, founded in Diyala, operates around the
loci of Ramadi, Fallujah, Samarra and Baqubah. (Astoundingly, several American
newspaper articles and blog entries describe this largely Sunni Arab outfit
as a recipient of help from Iran. Not only is this counterintuitive, but the
only evidence for it is a Memri translation of the 'confessions' of a Colonel
Muayed Al-Nasseri, who claims to have founded the organisation after the fall
of Saddam - which is to claim that Iran assisted an organisation allegedly
founded by its long-time rival).
Islamic Army of Iraq - estimated at between 15,000 and 17,000 fighters as
of 2005. There are various claims about this organisation's ideological tendencies,
but it appears to embrace Salafism although it appears to include ex-Baathists.
Jaish al Mahdi (Mahdi Army) - estimated at over 10,000 fighters since 2004,
but easily mobilises a much larger base of non-military support. You know
about these guys: Iraqi nationalism, religious piety, popular leader.
There are others, of course, but bearing in mind that most resistance groups
are actually very localised cells with no integration into any national or even
regional structure of command and control, I think you might have some sense
that even the estimate of the size of the resistance from the puppet administration
is an underestimate. The number of resistance attacks is growing; the passive
support for resistance attacks registered in polls has been growing; one infers
that active non-military support for the resistance has been growing too.
However, one thing about the BBC's piece that is irksome is the total neglect
of violence from the occupiers. The piece is entitled "Iraq violence: Facts
and figures" - well, facts and figures regarding deaths from occupation
violence may be riddled with problems, but look at this:
These are the number of bodies appearing in Baghdad mortuaries every
month. Baghdad alone. Now, the US recently carried out several extremely
bloody raids in parts of Baghdad, and is routinely deploying violence there.
Yet, the BBC can only interpret this through the prism of 'sectarian violence'
(notwithstanding the occupiers' responsibility for sectarian violence, which
obviously the BBC never mentions and never will).
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