David vs. Goliath

Yawar Herekar

The war rages on with no end in sight. “Operation Iraqi Freedom” has gone way past the ten-day mark and is far from over. To the dismay of the coalition commander-in-chiefs, namely the US Prez and the British PM, the outcome of the war seems to have changed. “Swift and decisive” is out, “lengthy” and “fight as long as it takes for victory” is in.From the smoke and ruins of Iraq, the tyrant of Baghdad rises high in glory and stature, his past atrocities forgotten, the mass genocides attributed to him slowly fading into oblivion among the Iraqi people.

The “shock and awe” bombing that was meant to cause the Iraqi military to grovel and whimper has had just the opposite effect. Iraqi resistance is hardening, not weakening, the Republican guards and the regular army units are digging in, not throwing down their weapons and raising their hands in surrender.

The present scenario was not what “Dubya” and Blair had in mind. Saddam was supposed to be ousted by his own cronies and yes-men while the Anglo-American coalition was supposed to be greeted with welcoming flowers. The Shiites and the Kurds were supposed to revolt and march alongside the coalition forces towards Baghdad, the Iraqi army was supposed to melt away on seeing such a huge army and the war was supposed to be over in a few days.

It was supposed to be David versus Goliath all over again, with a reversal of roles, David representing the “forces of evil” while Goliath represented the forces that would “free” the Iraqi people from the ruthless regime.

Instead, the Brit and American forces seem to be living through a bad dream. Umm-e-Qasr is the only Iraqi city that they can lay full claim to with sporadic fighting still seeming to erupt from within. The popular uprising against the Baath party in Basra that the Brits were blowing their horns about seems to have ended, the Brits out of breath. Basra and An-Nasriyah still seem to have fight in them left.

The Iraqis, civilians as well as the military are not playing according to the script. They have refused to become lambs of the desert and retreat before superior forces. They have refused to be cowed down by missile attacks or precision bombings, however “precise” they may be. They have retreated into the cities. If the coalition forces want them, they’ll have to go in and get them out. After the tough fighting that the coalition forces have faced so far, I strongly doubt that this prospect would gladden the American or British soldiers’ hearts. But if urban warfare is what ends up happening, the number of civilian casualties are bound to increase and world opinion is bound to become even more anti-war than what it already is.

And the worst is yet to come. The Medina division of the Elite Republican Guards is at the outskirts of Baghdad, their weapons ready, their faith in Saddam strong, waiting and watching as the coalition forces inch closer day by day. The Medina division is only one of many Republican guard divisions; the Nebuchadnezzar, Tawkalna and other divisions with names meant to inflame the imagination, surround the base of Saddam’s power. What about Saddam, where is all the hue and cry that accompanied the first day of bombing based on good intelligence that was supposed to have killed the leader or at least injured him badly. The dictator’s presence on the TV and the radio makes a mockery of that. US Central Command (CentCom) based in Qatar writes those images and voices off as prerecorded or as doubles of Saddam. Many view these claims made by CentCom with skepticism and disbelief.

General Tommy Franks, commander of CentCom, is crying foul. According to him, the Iraqi irregular tactics (riding in civilian pickups, dressing up in civilian clothes, faking surrenders, using women and children as human shields, forcing men to join the army by taking their children captive) are all different means of global terrorism. Iraqi resistance is being attributed to the dark forces of Saddam such as the notorious “Saddam Fedayeen,” known for their loyalty to his son, Qusay.

The Fedayeen are known to be diehard loyal forces and their forcing regular units to fight at gunpoint is being used by the British-American coalition to explain the resistance they are facing. The Anglo-American camp would never place the Iraqi resistance where it truly belongs: the courage and fearlessness of the Iraqis.

To sum it all up, Bush and Blair are trying to explain themselves in a pathetic manner. According to them, Goliath’s bullets and bombs are tools of liberation while David’s fighting back is terrorism.

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