- "Peace" and "reconciliation" were
the patois of Downing Street and the White House yesterday. But all those
hopes of a collapse of resistance are doomed. Saddam was neither the spiritual
nor the political guide to the insurgency that is now claiming so many
lives in Iraq - far more Iraqi than Western lives, one might add - and,
however happy Messrs Bush and Blair may be at the capture of Saddam, the
war goes on.
- In Fallujah, in Ramadi, in other centres of Sunni power
in Iraq, the anti-occupation rising will continue. The system of attacks
and the frighteningly fast-growing sophistication of the insurgents is
bound up with the Committee of the Faith, a group of Wahabi-based Sunni
Muslims who now plan their attacks on American occupation troops between
Mosul and the city of Hilla, 50 miles south of Baghdad. Even before the
overthrow of the Baathist regime, these groups, permitted by Saddam in
the hope that they could drain off Sunni Islamic militancy, were planning
the mukawama - the resistance against foreign occupation.
- The slaughter of 17 more Iraqis yesterday in a bomb attack
on a police station - hours after the capture of Saddam, though the bombers
could not have known that - is going to remain Iraq's bloody agenda. The
Anglo-American narrative will then be more difficult to sustain. Saddam
"remnants" or Saddam "loyalists" are far more difficult
to sustain as enemies when they can no longer be loyal to Saddam. Their
Iraqi identity will become more obvious and the need to blame "foreign"
al-Qa'ida members all the greater.
- Yet the repeated assertions of US infantry commanders,
especially those based around Mosul and Tikrit, that most of their attackers
are Iraqi rather than foreign, show that the American military command
in Iraq - at least at the divisional level - knows the truth. The 82nd
Airborne captain in Fallujah who told me that his men were attacked by
"Syrian-backed terrorists and Iraqi freedom-fighters" was probably
closer to the truth than Major Ricardo Sanchez, the US commander in Iraq,
would like to believe. The war is not about Saddam but about foreign occupation.
- Indeed, professional soldiers have been pointing this
out for a long time. Yesterday, for example, a sergeant in the 1st Armoured
Division on checkpoint duty in Baghdad explained the situation to The Independent
in remarkably blunt words. "We're not going to go home any sooner
because of Saddam's getting caught," he said. "We all came to
search for weapons of mass destruction and attention has now been diverted
from that. The arrest of Saddam is meaningless. We still don't know why
we came here."
- There are groups aplenty with enthusiasm to attack the
Americans but who never had any love for Saddam. One example is the Unification
Front for the Liberation of Iraq, which was anti-Saddam but has now called
on its supporters to fight the American occupation. In all, The Independent
has identified 12 separate guerrilla groups, all loosely in touch with
each other through tribal connections, but only one could be identified
as comprising Saddam loyalists or Baathists.
- When the first roadside bomb exploded in the centre of
a motorway median at Khan Dari in the summer, killing one soldier, it was
followed by identically manufactured mines - three mortars wired together
- in both Kirkuk and Mosul. Within a week, another copy-cat mine exploded
near US troops outside Nasiriyah. Clearly, groups of insurgents were touring
the country with explosive ordnance capabilities, organised, possibly,
on a national level.
- In many areas, men identifying themselves as resistors
have openly boasted that they are joining the new American-paid police
forces in order to earn money, gain experience with weapons and gather
intelligence on their American military "allies". Exactly the
same fate that befell the Israelis in Lebanon, where their proxy Lebanese
South Lebanon Army militia started collaborating with their Hizbollah enemies,
is now likely to encompass the Americans.
- The same men who are going to carry on attacking the
Americans will, of course, be making a secret holiday in their heart over
the capture of Saddam. Why, they will argue, should they not rejoice at
the end of their greatest oppressor while planning the humiliation of the
occupying army which seized him?