Gen. Mohammed Abdullah al-Shahwani spoke to Iraqi newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat and indicated that he believes that the “insurgency” is being defeated:
“We officially call them terrorists,” he said. “They are between 20,000 and 30,000 armed men operating all over Iraq, mainly in the Sunni areas where they receive moral support from about 200,000 people.”
Al-Shahwani said the men, who are well-organized and trained, include former Baath party members, some Islamic militant groups and former army members who lost their jobs.
Al-Shahwani said terrorist attacks would negatively affect the Jan. 30 election because some people would not be able to reach polling stations.
“Whether these attacks would increase or decrease, this depends on the elections result, but our expectation, as a security organ, is that the attacks will recede and end in one year,” he said.
That may be somewhat optimistic, but it is quite possible. The insurgency generates headlines, but it isn’t having the kind of effect it was designed for. The terrorists have killed more Iraqis than anyone else, and such incidents as the murder of dozens of Iraqi children at a water treatment plant opening near Baghdad and the brutalization and murder of Margaret Hassan have shown that the terrorist are just as willing to murder Arabs as anyone else. The average Iraqi has only a few hours of electricity a day because the terrorists keep sabotaging the electrical grid. The US is trying to rebuild Iraq, while the “insurgents” keep trying to tear it down. The Western vision of the insurgency as some kind of popular rebellion is simply false. The Iraqis may not particularly like the US being in Iraq, but they’ve little love for the people who are being controlled by foreign interests and intend to plunge Iraq back into tyranny.
The Iraqi people continue to volunteer to fight for their country despite great personal risk to themselves. All but 4 of Iraq’s 18 provinces are ready for the elections at the end of the month.
Gen. al-Shahwani’s analysis coincides with the finding that the conflict with the terrorists in Iraq is considerably one-sided, with a casualty ratio of 4:1, with combat units having a considerably higher casualty ratio (which is to be expected). US defense analysts are beginning to believe that the efficacy of the terrorists is decreasing over time. The attacks that have been launched, with the exception of the suicide bombing, have been decidedly unorganized. Planting an IED, even one with a remote detonator, isn’t particularly hard. Even the ambush tactics being used in some engagements are simple. The terrorists simply blast away at the convoys, unable to close off routes for reinforcements. Usually by the time those reinforcements or air cover arrives, any terrorist who doesn’t run ends up captured or killed.
The metrics of this conflict, despite the breathless reporting from the news media, are firmly on our side. Murder is not the way to win hearts and minds, and the only thing the terrorists are achieving is to create a continued backlash in the Arab world.
The Iraqi people are resoundingly behind the elections on January 30th, and against terrorism. They know that the only way to have a free and independent country is to have a legitimate government that will drive the terrorists away. The Iraqi people are not stupid, they know that the terrorists do not have their interests at heart, and they know that once they are gone, the US and coalition forces will be too.