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Friday, March 28, 2003

Why no mass uprisings?

The surprising answer is, in part, that we are actively discouraging them:

In recent months, the U.S. war planners have been discouraging the Iraqi population from any uprising and trying the keep the Iraqi opposition forces off the battlefield. At a summit in Ankara earlier this month, Zalmay Khalilzad, President Bush’s special envoy to the Iraqi opposition, firmly declared Washington’s “no uprisings” strategy to the Kurdish, Shiite, and Sunni Iraqi opposition leaders. “The lesson Tommy Franks got from the Afghan campaign last year is that it is risky to work with indigenous groups. He does not want to do that again,” one insider told me. As the thinking goes, uprisings across the country would not just “complicate” the military planning, but turn off potential allies inside the regime by stressing the exiled Iraqi opposition’s role. That, in turn, might alienate both alienate the Sunni elite in Baghdad and Iraq’s military commanders who might switch sides as the operation unfolds.

So the United States is set to liberate Iraq without the participation of Iraqis? Precisely, it seems.

“We were told that the coalition forces do not want to see any uprisings in major cities,” said a leading member of the exiled opposition group Iraqi National Congress who took part in the meetings in Ankara. INC has a vast network of informants in the southern areas of Iraq and in and around Baghdad, but its leadership, now based in northern Iraq, had no formal contact with CENTCOM until the fifth day of the war, when a CENTCOM liaison officer finally arrived at the group’s headquarters in the northern city of Suleimaniye.


Like the decision to leave Iraqi state TV on the air, this sure looks like a mistake. Hopefully, just like the decision to end IrTV's broadcast day, I hope it gets reversed soon. It makes no sense to adhere to this policy, especially when it's being turned against us by the Fedayeen.

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