Outnumbered in Iraq

By Mark Follman

Published January 4, 2005 6:37PM (EST)

The conservative Washington Times takes note of the roiling pre-election situation in Iraq, where insurgent forces and sympathizers willing to help them reportedly now outnumber U.S. and nascent Iraqi government forces -- with as many as 200,000 working against the occupation. The assessment comes from the head of Iraq's new intelligence services, who points to the many months of chaos, and the lack of basic infrastructure and security as the cause. (Interestingly, almost none of the major media seem to have picked up the story yet.)

"Iraq's director of intelligence says there are now more Arabic insurgents in Iraq than there are U.S.-led coalition soldiers, The Times of London said Tuesday.

"'I think the resistance is bigger than the U.S. military in Iraq. I think the resistance is more than 200,000 people,' said Gen. Muhammad Abdullah Shahwani, director of Iraq's new intelligence services. Shahwani said there were at least 40,000 hardcore fighters attacking U.S. and Iraqi troops, with the bulk made up of part-time guerrillas and volunteers providing logistical support, information, shelter and money.

"'People are fed up after two years without improvement,' he said. 'People are fed up with no security, no electricity -- people feel they have to do something.'

"More than 1,000 police and National Guardsmen have been killed since the security forces were established after the war in attacks aimed at plunging the country into chaos before national elections scheduled for Jan. 30."

It appears that an awful lot can change during a poorly planned, poorly managed year of occupation. The Center for American Progress notes a very different perspective on the insurgency put forth by the U.S. military leadership a little over a year ago.

"I would say that the force of people actively armed and operating against us does not exceed 5,000." --Gen. John Abizaid, commander of the U.S. troops in Iraq, 11/13/03.

More where that came from, here.

Mark Follman

Mark Follman is Salon's deputy news editor. Read his other articles here.

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