Insurgency Well Planned and Working

NYT: Hussein’s Agents Are Behind Attacks in Iraq, Pentagon Finds [RSS]

A Pentagon intelligence report has concluded that many bombings against Americans and their allies in Iraq, and the more sophisticated of the guerrilla attacks in Falluja, are organized and often carried out by members of Saddam Hussein’s secret service, who planned for the insurgency even before the fall of Baghdad.

The report states that Iraqi officers of the “Special Operations and Antiterrorism Branch,” known within Mr. Hussein’s government as M-14, are responsible for planning roadway improvised explosive devices and some of the larger car bombs that have killed Iraqis, Americans and other foreigners. The attacks have sown chaos and fear across Iraq.

In addition, suicide bombers have worn explosives-laden vests made before the war under the direction of of M-14 officers, according to the report, prepared by the Defense Intelligence Agency. The report also cites evidence that one such suicide attack last April, which killed three Americans, was carried out by a pregnant woman who was an M-14 colonel.

Its findings were based on interrogations with high-ranking M-14 members who are now in American custody, as well as on documents uncovered and translated by the Iraq Survey Group. While the report cites specific evidence, other important assessments of American intelligence on Iraq have been challenged and even proven wrong.

***

The report does not imply that every guerrilla taking up arms against the Americans is under the command of the M-14, nor that every Iraqi who dances atop a charred Humvee is inspired by a former Iraqi intelligence agent. But the assessment helps explain how only a few thousand insurgents, with professional leadership from small numbers of Mr. Hussein’s intelligence services and seasoned military officer corps, could prove to be such a challenge to the American occupation. “They carefully laid plans to occupy the occupiers,” said one United States government official who has read the report. “They were prepared to try and hijack the country. The goal was to complicate the stabilization mission, and democratization.”

It appears to be working, if other reports are to be believed.

USA Today: Poll: Iraqis Out Of Patience

Only a third of the Iraqi people now believe that the American-led occupation of their country is doing more good than harm, and a solid majority support an immediate military pullout even though they fear that could put them in greater danger, according to a new USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll.

The nationwide survey, the most comprehensive look at Iraqi attitudes toward the occupation, was conducted in late March and early April. It reached nearly 3,500 Iraqis of every religious and ethnic group.

The poll shows that most continue to say the hardships suffered to depose Saddam Hussein were worth it. Half say they and their families are better off than they were under Saddam. And a strong majority say they are more free to worship and to speak.

But while they acknowledge benefits from dumping Saddam a year ago, Iraqis no longer see the presence of the American-led military as a plus. Asked whether they view the U.S.-led coalition as “liberators” or “occupiers,” 71% of all respondents say “occupiers.”

That figure reaches 81% if the separatist, pro-U.S. Kurdish minority in northern Iraq is not included. The negative characterization is just as high among the Shiite Muslims who were oppressed for decades by Saddam as it is among the Sunni Muslims who embraced him.

The growing negative attitude toward the Americans is also reflected in two related survey questions: 53% say they would feel less secure without the coalition in Iraq, but 57% say the foreign troops should leave anyway. Those answers were given before the current showdowns in Fallujah and Najaf between U.S. troops and guerrilla fighters.

Coincidentally, NYT has a poll out today as well, showing similar results domestically: Support for War Is Down Sharply, Poll Concludes [RSS]

Support for the war in Iraq has eroded substantially over the past several months, and Americans are increasingly critical of the way President Bush is handling the conflict, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll.

After initially expressing robust backing for the war, the public is now evenly divided over whether the United States military should stay for as long as it takes to stabilize Iraq or pull out as soon as possible, the poll showed.

Asked whether the United States had done the right thing in taking military action against Iraq, 47 percent of respondents said it had, down from 58 percent a month earlier and 63 percent in December, just after American forces captured Saddam Hussein. Forty-six percent said the United States should have stayed out of Iraq, up from 37 percent last month and 31 percent in December.

The diminished public support for the war did not translate into any significant advantage for Mr. Bush’s Democratic challenger, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts. The poll showed the two men remaining in a statistical dead heat, both in a head-to-head matchup and in a three-way race that included Ralph Nader.

See also the CBS report on the poll.

Not only is the insurgency affecting popular opinion but it’s(as one would expect) slowing down the rebuilding process. Washington Times: Admiral Concedes Impact Of Iraq Rebels

The U.S. official heading the reconstruction of Iraq said yesterday that Iraqi insurgents were dictating the pace of the massive program to rebuild the country’s infrastructure.

Adm. David Nash, director of the Coalition Provisional Authority’s Iraq Program Management Office, told Italian businessmen that reconstruction would not be derailed by the recent upsurge in fighting.

“Security will not stop us building. It will control the rate [at which] we are building,” he said at a conference in Rome on subcontracting opportunities in Iraq organized by the Italian manufacturers’ association, Confindustria.

“It’s not as bad as reported in the newspapers, but obviously it is not a benign environment. I believe it’s manageable. We will have good days and we will have bad days.”

FILED UNDER: Environment, Iraq War, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.