The International Institute for Inter-Religious, Multiethnic and Middle-East Studies (IFIMES) in Ljubljana has in light of the military operation ‘Iraqi Freedom’ run by the USA and her Allies been analyzing diplomatic and military (un)successes of the operation. The most interesting sections of the analysis are given below:
The operation ‘Iraqi Freedom’, planned for more than a year has run into troubles. Already from the beginning itself, the military allies encountered fierce resistance, even and especially in the Shiite south that traditionally hates the regime of Saddam Hussein. The Allied forces are with their advance experiencing only partial successes in the populated areas from Um Qasr, Basra, Faw, Nasiriya up to the holly Shiite city of Najaf. The fastest advance occurred in the desert, away from urban centers and military strongholds of the Iraqi army. Para-military militias, called the Fedayin, inflicted harsh blows to the Allied troops, a fact that presented a shock to the military planners of this operation.
In any case, the plan of general Tommy Franks went through a thorough change. These changes have a tactical purpose with a goal to win the war and march into Baghdad. USA can win the war in the military sense, but despite this victory, the war can be lost in a political sense, so therefore radical changes of political, diplomatic and media plan of the operation in whole are needed.
On the political plane US found itself in a troublesome position due to the unilateral action that was from its beginnings questionable in the eyes of the whole world, including the three permanent members of the Security Council – France, Russia and China. Saddam Hussein has used and abused well the lack of unity in the international community and has in the eyes of the international public become a statesman defending his country from an aggression. In the eyes of the Islamic world he became a martyr, who is defending the whole Islamic world against the worst enemy of Islam.
Saddam Hussein looked for support in the seventh chapter of the UNO Founding Document, while the USA had only moral backing in being the only (remaining) superpower helping the Iraqi people and trying to protect the whole world from a dictator, that has (already) used and is ready to use again the weapons of mass-destruction not only against his own people, but anywhere the world.
The greatest fiasco in the beginning of the American operation is in the act that 10 million Shiites in the south of Iraq remained in best case passive and in most cases hostile towards their arrival. They haven’t welcomed the liberators with flowers, as the Allied expected, but have instead with their guerilla attacks, become a nightmare for soldiers on the outskirts of towns and villages into which they haven’t even entered.
The reaction of the Shiites was expected for two reasons:
First, due to the American support for the popular uprising against the regime of Saddam Hussein in 1991 in the south of Iraq, followed by a later consent given to Saddam Hussein to use helicopters to quell the same popular uprising that has spread all over the country. This American behavior disappointed the Shiites, who felt cheated and betrayed and who apparently did not wish to repeat the same mistake twice.
Second, due to the political stance of the Shiite political leaders (SCIRI, Aldawa, etc.), which are under political influence of Teheran and Damascus and have preferred to choose neutrality rather than participation in action, where the outcome is not known, and which are in best case opposed to an appointment of an American general in place of Saddam Hussein.
The American forces are for now advancing through the Shiite area, where neither Saddam Hussein nor Americans are liked. A question is rising on the nature of American advance through the Sunni part of Iraq that has been traditionally supportive of Saddam Hussein and is afraid to loose great privileges, gained by the Iraqi constitution from 1921, when the state was founded. Certainly, the resistance in the Sunnite western Iraq will be even more fierce on the line Haditha – Rumadi – Falujja – Baghdad and in the East on the line Baquba – Khalis – Baghdad, but also on the northern line Mosul – Bejji – Tikreet – Baghdad.
A breakdown of the political part of the ‘Iraqi Freedom’ operation occurred as an outcome of the fact that the USA had been in previous decade communicating with the Iraqi people through a mediation of an oppositional fraction The Iraqi National Congress INC, which had no political stronghold on the ground. The US cooperation with the opposition was constantly in crisis. USA was repeatedly accusing them of abusing the allocated resources (these being ten million dollars instead of a promised one hundred millions, which were allocated according to the Iraqi Liberation Law, approved by the Congress in 1998). Other visible and influential members of the opposition were far away and marginalized. Another reason for the political unsuccess of the USA can be located in the influence of the neighboring countries on particular oppositional fractions (Iran, Syria, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia). This interference with their interior affairs is best shown by the events, as they occurred, for instance, in 1996 with the bloody intra-Kurdish war between the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). Turkey and Iraq supported KDP, while Iran supported PUK. Today, Turkey supports PUK and is at present in a media war with KDP, which is controlling a part of the Iraqi Kurdistan at the southern border of Turkey. USA is aware of the gravity of the situation and therefore the secretaries Rumsfeld and Powel warned the neighboring countries against any interference with the Iraqi affairs.
The military operation to topple Saddam Hussein could in case of a total success not only in military, but also in political sense become a precedent and a model case to cope with later (similar) global cases. The operation has no support in modern international law, but it might have a support in the classical theory of the international law development, deriving from the 1648 Westphalia Treaty, 1918 Versailles Treaty and 1945 San Francisco Treaty. USA urgently and as soon as possible has to open the communication channels with the nations of the Middle East and explain them in a simple language the positive and noble goals of this operation that will certainly have a positive influence on their future, as well.
The International Institute IFIMES warns that the military liberation of Baghdad does not represent an end to the destruction of Saddam Hussein’s regime, it is only a beginning of a political process that might become painful to both sides, Iraqis and Americans. The case of Soviet Union in Afghanistan can repeat itself in Iraq, but in different roles. Russia, France and Islamic countries will support Iraqi mujaheds against the American aggressors with a repetition of events from the eighties, when they were recruiting suicide killers and fighters all over the Islamic world.
According to the opinion of IFIMES, USA urgently has to change its politics towards the specific fractions within the Iraqi opposition as a precondition for the establishment of a dialogue with the Iraqi people. Most of the Iraqi oppositional groups have almost no support among the people, while their political activities are being conducted in the offices of luxury villas in London, Dubai, Damascus, etc. The American ambassador with the free Iraqis, Zalmai Khalilzad, has already made his first steps in the direction of these changes. A lot of work expects him, since it is upon him to build foundations of a new relationship with the Iraqi people and to repair the damage that occurred during the Clinton administration and its special envoy Frank Richardony.