The International Institute for Inter-Religious, Multiethnic and Middle-East Studies (IFIMES) in Ljubljana has in light of recent events in Iraq and the beginning of the military and political part of Baghdad operation been analyzing the mentioned events. The most interesting sections of the analysis are given below:
With the arrival of advance units of the American Marines and the 3rd Infantry division up to the outskirts of Baghdad and taking over the International Airport ‘Saddam’, the war for the liberation of Iraq is coming to its final phase that will determine the success of the whole operation.
In the military sense, the Allies are expecting in the city of Baghdad itself the Golden brigade of the Republican guard, counting 16.000 best trained men, showing utmost loyalty to Saddam Hussein, the 20.000 members of the para-military militias Fedayeen and also 200.000 members of the Army of Jerusalem, composed of the Baath party members. On the outskirts of Baghdad three divisions of the Republican guard are located: Baghdad, Nida and Hamurabi. To these, another three divisions can be added. Adnan is situated 60 km away from the Iraqi capital into the direction of Teekrit. The division Medina can be found between Karbala and Najaf, while the division Nabukudnasser is stationed north of Baghdad. The latter three divisions are still not directly involved into fighting the Allied forces, since they are not located in Baghdad and cannot be besieged in it. A possible tactics may be that these three mentioned divisions will be included into a possible surrounding of the Allied forces from behind.
In any case, the Iraqi strategy is based on drawing the Allied units into a fight in the city center itself. Street combat is a nightmare for every commander. In street fights the civilians become subjects and potential soldiers for the attacking forces, while technological superiority (air superiority, speed, mobility and fire-power) is loosing its meaning in a city combat. American forces will be trying to avoid street fighting in Baghdad. The Americans do, due to a lack of official and public support of the international community, not wish to use the Russian tactics and demolish Baghdad, as the Russians demolished Grozny. This would be in opposition to the goals of the ‘Iraqi Freedom’ operation. The fear of Allied forces from entering Baghdad is even greater because of the (un)successes on the route to Baghdad in cities like Um Qaser, Basra, Nassirya, Shatra and Najaf.
In a September 2002 document from Pentagon, called ‘The Operational Strategy in Cities’, a Chinese strategist from the 6th century is quoted, saying that the worst tactics is the siege of a walled city. In the present time, the Republican guard represents for the Allied forces a wall, protecting Baghdad.
According to the opinion of John Feres from the University of Calgary in Canada, there is no victory in street combat without demolishing the whole street. Dean Novovisky from the Brookings Institute in Washington, who states that Saddam Hussein is surrounded by units that will fight to their end not only because of Saddam Hussein, but also because of their own destiny and the privileges they posses, complements his opinion. The American Rand Institute has in the year 2000 analyzed the influence of the demographic factor on future wars in the world. Half of the global population resides within cities. Terrorists and poorly armed countries wish to position their main battlefields in city centers, since technological superiority becomes in such circumstances unimportant and all depends on the soldiers that are in city centers lightly armed and dressed in uniforms or civilian clothes. This can in comparison to separating the civilian population from the soldiers, cause even more trouble to the Allies, but would serve well Saddam Hussein in the media war, since he will be able to accuse the Allies of killing innocent civilians, despite the fact that these would be soldiers in civilian clothes.
In Baghdad, Saddam Hussein is ready to fight to the end, while sacrificing himself and the five million inhabitants with him - this would the Samson scenario from the Old Testament, when he tore down the temple on himself and on all the present within. This scenario could already be planned in the head of the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in order to fight to the end. The difference between him and Samson is that Saddam does not posses any divine power, but he does posses chemical weapons that he will probably use in a primitive form to consolidate the being of international public opinion on his side, while accusing the Allies of using the chemical weapons.
The American strategy saw the entry into Baghdad as the last option from the beginning. The strategy itself is being based on the ‘Shock & Awe’ doctrine, written in 1996 by Harlan Olman from the National Defense University in Washington. This strategy is based on quick control and destruction of the military morale of the enemy. Two weeks after commencing the operation, the Allies still haven’t destroyed the morale of the Iraqi regulars, like in Basra for instance, and let’s not even consider the Republican guard, with which true fighting hasn’t even begun yet. The task of the Allied soldiers will be very hard to fulfill and risky in Baghdad, since the metropolis is surrounded by artificial and natural lakes alongside the river Tigris (the area of Baghdad covers 100 km X 80 km). Meters and not kilometers measure advance in Baghdad – per each meter both sides can loose one soldier. Baghdad is predominately a Sunni city (three million Sunnites and two million Shiites that will remain neutral as did the Shiites in the South of Iraq).
Arrival of the American troops to the Baghdad International Airport ‘Saddam’, removed 20 km from the center of the city is, according to the opinion of the International Institute IFIMES, a beginning of the political part of the operation Iraqi Freedom. Baghdad will be surrounded and the Iraqi leadership will be isolated from the rest of the country and the military units in other parts of Iraq.
The airport will serve as the seat of Allied Command and as a temporary capital of Iraq. From the airport the future civil, diplomatic and humanitarian structures will start to operate. Arrival of the future temporary administrator of Iraq, the retired American general Jay Garner, is expected in a company of several opposition leaders, now situated in Kuwait. The rest of the opposition; the Iraqi National Congress (INC), the Supreme Shiite Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) and the Wifaq movement, are all located in the Iraqi Kurdistan alongside the Kurdish leaders Baryani and Talabani and the American ambassador to Free Iraqis Zalmai Khalilzada. Iraqi experts that are now residing in USA and are members of numerous commissions, which have put together projects on the future of Iraq in cooperation with ‘The Future of Iraq’ Department of the US Administration, are also expected to arrive.
From the temporary capital the Allied forces will draw together fighters from the opposition (Shiites, Sunnites and Kurds), which will lead the mentioned military operations for control over the strategic points (power plants, hospitals, waterworks, government buildings...) in Baghdad, supported by Allied forces. Simultaneously, they will continue with the activities to negotiate the terms of surrender for Baghdad with the present top leadership of Iraq. The surrender of the city to the Iraqi oppositional forces is of crucial importance for several reasons. First, due to the civilian population that is skeptical towards the Allied forces. Second, the international community, and especially the Islamic world, will react differently to the takeover of the city by the Iraqi opposition then by what would seem as a Christian occupation of an ancient city, once a center of Islamic civilization under the dynasty of Abbasids, the main center of the Islamic world.