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Sunni Revolt Could Get Far Worse: Report

But Eisenstadt noted that in 20th century guerrilla conflicts, the percent age of the population that participated actively in such movements ranged from 0.5 percent to 2 percent of the total population.

"As a proportion of Iraq's Sunni Arab community, this would equate to between 27,000 and 108,000 insurgents," he wrote. And if the number of active insurgents was only 15,000 to 20,000 as Gen. Abizaid and other U.S. officials have stated, "The Sunni Arab insurgency would be among the smallest insurgencies (as a percentage of the total population) in modern times."


Washington (UPI) Aug 29, 2005
The Sunni insurgency in Iraq could metastasize and become far more widespread and dangerous than it already is, a leading Washington analyst has warned in a new study.

"The worst might be yet to come -- with all that implies for ongoing efforts to stand up Iraq's new security forces and future plans to reduce the U.S. military presence in Iraq," Michael Eisenstadt, director of security studies at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, warned in a new Policy Watch issued by the think tank.

WINEP has been noted for some of the most consistently accurate assessments on the ongoing evolution of the Iraq insurgency over the past two years from Eisenstadt and his colleagues Jeffrey White and Michael Knights.

The new study was issued before the Shiite and Kurdish political groupings in Iraq agreed over the weekend to push ahead with seeking to ratify their country's new draft constitution without the agreement or cooperation of Sunni political leaders. But Eisenstadt in his study warned that such a development was likely to make the insurgency vastly worse than it already was.

"In light of recent warnings by Sunni Arab politicians that dissatisfaction with the draft constitution could spur additional violence, the more important conclusion ... may be that only a small fraction of the Sunni Arab population that supports attacks on coalition forces or that has some kind of military or paramilitary training has been mobilized by the insurgency thus far," he wrote. "Insurgent efforts expand their recruiting efforts, succeed in broadening their appeal, or opt to fight a "popular war" against the Iraqi government (and coalition forces) by exploiting this untapped demographic potential, the worst may be yet to come."

Gen. John Abizaid, head of U.S. Central Command, recently estimated that the insurgency was probably 20,000 strong at the most and could be less than that. U.S. military assessments cited in regular studies by the Iraq Index Project of the Brookings Institution in recent weeks have put the likely number of active insurgents from 15,000 to 20,000, but have given no hint that they are falling in number, despite the 2,000 casualties per month estimated to have been inflicted on them by U.S. and allied Iraqi forces over the past three months.

Even the 20,000 figure, Abizaid noted, would amount to only one-tenth of 1 percent of the entire Iraqi population.

However, Eisenstadt in his study noted that according to figures from the United Nations Development Program's 2004 Iraq Living Conditions Survey, the Sunni Muslim population, while only 20 percent, or one-fifth of the total population of Iraq, still amounts to 5.4 million people of whom 1.35 million are men of military age, from age 15 to 49.

But Eisenstadt noted that in 20th century guerrilla conflicts, the percent age of the population that participated actively in such movements ranged from 0.5 percent to 2 percent of the total population.

"As a proportion of Iraq's Sunni Arab community, this would equate to between 27,000 and 108,000 insurgents," he wrote. And if the number of active insurgents was only 15,000 to 20,000 as Gen. Abizaid and other U.S. officials have stated, "The Sunni Arab insurgency would be among the smallest insurgencies (as a percentage of the total population) in modern times."

Eisenstadt also noted that "the Sunni insurgents swim in a largely sympathetic sea. Three separate opinion surveys taken in 2004-2005 by Iraqi and foreign pollsters show that between 45 percent and 85 percent of respondents in Sunni Arab areas express support for insurgent attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq."

Eisenstadt concluded that "the total number of Sunni Arabs 'involved' with the insurgency, in one way or another (including sympathetic or supportive family members), may therefore approach 100,000."

"Furthermore, the number of Sunni Arab males with intelligence and security, military, or paramilitary training probably numbers in the hundreds of thousands" as former President Saddam Hussein's regime "recruited almost exclusively from the Sunni Arab community" for its "intelligence and security services, the Special Republican Guard and the Republican Guard," Eisenstatdt wrote.

He also noted that in Sunni Arab areas of concentration "the percentage of Iraqi households that reported possessing firearms for self defense were, according to the UNDP, among the highest in Iraq: 46 percent in Salahuddin; 39 percent in Nineveh; 37 percent in Diyala; 34 percent in Anbar; 26 percent in Baghdad; and 15 percent in Babil."

If Eisenstadt's assessment and his warnings prove correct, following the failure of the constitutional negotiations to satisfy the Sunni community, U.S. forces in Iraq might have to hunker down to face yet another round of expanded mayhem.

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Outside View: Exiting Iraq
Pittsburgh (UPI) Aug 29, 2005
During a visit to Iraq in April, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said: "We don't really have an exit strategy. We have a victory strategy. We are here for a mission to set the country on the path of democracy, freedom and representative government."







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