warned it faces ' third Gulf war' in Iraq
By Charles Clover in Baghdad
July 27 : (Financial Times: UK) Five US soldiers were killed over
the weekend in a spate of attacks by Iraqi militants, as a new
study warned that the US may soon find itself in the midst of
"a third Gulf war against the Iraqi people".
On Saturday, three soldiers were killed in a grenade attack
while guarding a children's hospital in the city of Baquba and a
fourth was killed in an attack on a convoy west of Baghdad. On
Sunday, the fifth was killed by a grenade attack south of Baghdad
near the city of Hilla.
Forty-nine coalition troops have been killed by militants in
Iraq since the beginning of May, and attacks average 10 to 20 a
day throughout the country. General John Abizaid, the new
commander of Centcom, on July 16 became the first senior US
official to acknowledge that what the coalition faces in Iraq is a
"classical guerrilla campaign".
A study on guerrilla warfare in Iraq by the Center for
Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a Washington
think-tank, blames bad planning by the US administration and the
low priority given to "conflict termination" and
nation-building strategies by the Pentagon.
CSIS military specialist Anthony Cordesman says the US has not
learned the lessons of past conflicts, that "even the best
military victories cannot win the peace".
He writes: "Unless this situation changes soon, and
radically, the United States may end up fighting a third Gulf war
against the Iraqi people . . . It is far from clear that the
United States can win this kind of asymmetric war."
The study is likely to be a further blow to the US
administration, already facing mounting criticism for chaotic
reconstruction efforts in the country.
Mr Cordesman offers a grim assessment of the future of the
Iraqi conflict: "The most likely case still seems to be a
mixed and poorly co-ordinated US nation-building effort that does
just enough to put Iraq on a better political and economic path,
but does so in a climate of constant low-level security threats
and serious Iraqi ethnic and sectarian tensions."
The Pentagon's policymakers saw the Clinton administration's
focus on nation-building as a waste of resources, the report says.
US policymakers say the Iraq war ended too suddenly for an
effective postwar strategy to be launched. Mr Cordesman credits
the coalition with avoiding many of the worst-case postwar
scenarios, such as massive refugee crisis and wholesale
destruction of energy infrastructure.
But Mr Cordesman offers a detailed critique of the planning and
analysis that went into the war - 26 "avoidable
problems" ranging from failure to introduce a police force to
assuming that toppling Saddam Hussein would have won "hearts
and minds". In confused and angry scenes in the Shia holy
city of Kerbala on Sunday US troops opened fire as
Iraqis protested over marines killing a man the day before, Reuters
An officer said his men returned fire in self-defence but did
not know if anyone was hit. He said the man shot dead on Saturday
was carrying a weapon.
Doctors showed Reuters the body of a second man they said was
shot dead on Sunday.
Copyright: Financial Times