Fight Amongst Yourselves

US Marines have encircled the town of Ubaydi and are beginning to root out the insurgents. In the town of Qaim, an interesting development has emerged. The insurgents are preparing for an American assualt on the city by creating checkpoints and fighting positions. It was reported earlier that the leaders of Qaim requested American intervention, and now it seems that insurgent factions cannot tolerate each other, and have turned their weapons on one another:

Rival groups of insurgents also are fighting among themselves in the nearby town of Qaim, trading mortar, rocket and machine gun fire almost nightly, Pool said. Residents acknowledged fighting in Qaim began before the U.S. offensive, characterizing it as tribal clashes.

Solomon Moore provides further evidence al Qaeda and the insurgency are not very popular among the locals in Qaim. The jihadis had instituted the rule of law favored by the Taliban and in Zarqawi’s Fallujah:

After he served the Marines tea and sat them in his garden, the former Iraqi government official pulled up his shirt and showed his scars.

There were brown welts on his back where he had been flogged. There were small circular burns on his legs. He lifted his upper lip and revealed broken teeth. He held out his hands and displayed red lines where handcuffs had cut into his skin during eight days of captivity.

“The terrorists frighten and hurt the people here. They do checkpoints and patrols. Anyone they catch going to Al Qaim they will kill with a knife and throw him by the road,” said the former official, who asked a Los Angeles Times reporter traveling with the Marines not to publish his name for fear that insurgents would kill him and his family.

“Frankly, I don’t like the American occupation,” he said. “But I prefer the American occupation to occupation by Al Qaeda…”

Residents say insurgents threaten, beat and sometimes kill those who do not cooperate with them. They say the rebels take over their homes and cars, prevent them from seeking jobs with the Iraqi Security Forces, and endanger their towns by launching attacks against Americans from their backyards.

The former Iraqi government official sums up quite well the ideological battle being fought in Iraq. While the Americans are not popular, the Islamists of al Qaeda are despised because of their abhorrent tactics and treatment of fellow Muslims. It bears repeating that Iraq has provided a front on the war against al Qaeda and has allowed the people of the Middle East to personally see the true side of al Qaeda and the effects of terrorism. Its one thing to watch the resented Jews and Americans blown up overseas. Its another when Shariah spouting Al Qaeda jihadis overruns your home and beat, maim, butcher and murder those who they claim to protect, all in the name of Islam.


Trey Jackson has video footage from Matador.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Grappler says:

    Great information, Bill. I need to thank Instapundit for introducing you to me. Keep up the good work. I will be pointing my readers (few they may be) your way for news and analysis on the war!

  • garpuller says:

    Of course edited by site owner insurgents are unpopular. cf. South America.
    This doesn’t mean that anyone is getting a favor by our compassionately conservative occupation. Food for thought:
    – Would “Al Qaeda”, whatever that may be (the definition shifts, both from the Bushies and the insurgents themselves, so I lean toward “organized resistance”, but whatever), be active there, if not for the invasion? This is the honeypot theory, of course.
    – In 15 years, will we (Usians) have (a) a colony, (b) El Salvador, or (c) a failed state?
    – and at what cost?

  • Tim says:

    Yes, of course, anyone can clock in with any reason at all for doing nothing at all without much effort – as you so ably prove.
    Notwithstanding your inability to understand the difference, we know who al Queda is; we know who the former regime elements are; we know the difference between the various factions comprising the insurgency and are dealing with them accordingly.
    In answer to your ever-so-facile questions, the answer is d) victory, and at whatever cost is necessary. We ain’t [edited for content], and we ain’t gonna lose this war because bed-wetting, knock-kneed, limp-wristed doubters seek to spread their fears amongst the rest of us.
    Time to go home to momma, little boy. Thanks for playing.

  • I’m afraid that beating, maiming, butchering and murdering in the name of Islam won’t make these troglodytes sufficiently unpopular to do civilization any good. They were doing all that in Afghanistan and it still took considerable outside force to kick them out. I’m sure the same will be necessary here, and anywhere else they pop up.
    Even worse, the more efficiently and cleanly they’re kicked out, the stronger the inclination of the locals to sit back and let Uncle take care of it.
    It’s a war, and like all real wars, it won’t fight itself – it will consume time, resources, and sacrifices. There are no ways to fight it which will satisfy the “instant gratification” crowd.

  • garpuller says:

    Time to go home to momma, little boy. Thanks for playing.

    Cute. So happy that your assumptions about my personal traits trump any reflection on history. It is such attitudes that ruin any hope of getting out of this with an advantage for our money.

    Guess I’ll come back to engage in rational discourse when you get back from the monster truck ralley of international relations. Wait, was that rude?

    Wonder if it offends your sensibilities that I was an SFC, discharged with honors two years after GW1. But pansies like me can’t hold a candle to your arm chair strategery, now can we?

  • garpuller says:

    Site owner: I apologize for cursing on your blog. I need to restrain my mouth more often.

  • Avi says:

    garpuller – go home, you are a troll!
    This is a place for informed comment and analysis. Your contribution is nil and your interference is useless noise – we all know you your type.
    Your place is probably – go there and stop interfering. Please!

  • Insurgency News

    The Fourth Rail has an interesting roundup of the insurgency in Al Qaim right now.
    “Its one thing to watch the resented Jews and Americans blown up overseas. Its another when Shariah spouting Al…

  • Tim says:

    SFC? Honorably discharged? If you say so. MOS 02Z, perchance? I served too – infantry – but I learned there was no substitute for victory – something about accomplishing the mission – might you have missed that part? It seems you missed that part in reflecting on history as well. Finally, to belabor the point – money is cheap compared to defeat.
    Unless, of course, “saving money” is a surrogate for an exit strategy in which defeat is entirely acceptable, if not desirable.
    You need to rethink your primary assumptions, sergeant. That is, if victory matters to you.

  • Insurgency News

    The Fourth Rail has an interesting roundup of the insurgency in Al Qaim right now.
    “Its one thing to watch the resented Jews and Americans blown up overseas. Its another when Shariah spouting Al…

  • garpuller says:

    Tim: not quite. My actual designation was 02H, Harmonica Player at Large. (can’t remember if ‘H’ was used, or not.)

    Thanks for continuing to demonstrate that so many don’t know the difference between strateg(er)y and tactics. I feel bad for the Army.

    Yes, one wants to win. Of course one wants to win. Wisdom is knowing how to do so.

    Avi: Sorry to inject reason. Apparently that is unwelcome here.

  • Rosemary says:

    Dear Tim,
    Great news. I, too, will send my few readers your way. I pray you have a great day.
    Dear Garpuller,
    Do you remember when we first went to this war in Iraq? Everyone was ready for a biological or chemical attack. That was not phony. We actually believed them to be there. THANK GOD they were not.
    This thing about the money I do not understand. Should we have not fought the Civil War? 600,000 men dead. That is a pretty high cost. How about WWII? I have always believed that doing the right thing will bring a few results: Resentment from someone, gratitude from someone, and peace.
    Unfortunately, we cannot have peace without war sometimes. Would Hitler let us just walk in and free the Jews? Would Saddam just leave? No. I do not know it all. I would never claim I do. What I do know, however, I know from experience. This was necessary. I just wish we would go into Darfur as well. Have a nice day.

  • Tim says:

    Yes, of course, SFC’s know all about strategy and tactics, which is why they’re SFCs instead of commanders…to paraphrase our good and loyal friend, Sen. Biden.
    It’s clear from your first post you reject the strategy, so there is no possible tactic that would satisfy you short of those that don’t support the strategy. Those tactics would be used by the incompetent or the disloyal, notwithstanding your statement that “of course one wants to win (and how you can honestly claim you want to win when you don’t support the mission seem delusional, at best).”
    As for you feeling sorry for the Army, well, I suppose if feelings matter, then yeah, sure. The loss of just one of our noble warriors is tragic, but the alternatives are much more costly in the long term. I know the enemy thinks our feelings about our efforts matter, and I sure the enemy (all of them, whether you know their names or not) appreciates your contributions to undermining our will to win, since that’s really the only chance he has.
    Regardless, we’ll win without the consultations of SFC’s mocking the strategy and undermining the will to win, honorable discharges or not.

  • moradali says:

    Bill, it appears that the troops never entered Qaim, a town of 50,000 (1/5 size of Fallujah). I can think of two reasons. 1- The locals had the upper hand and were cooperating with the troops and had requested them not to enter and that they would control the terrorists. 2- The Iraqi Army would be dispatched at a later date to take control. Or a combination thereof.
    In either case this would allow the terrorists to claim that they “won the battle of Qaim”, which never took place.
    If they dont immediately flood the area with the Iraqi Army, then this operation would all be for naught. I doubt the locals are in a position to control the terrorists in Qaim.
    They may have never intended to enter Qaim. But why not have the Iraqi Army ready to take over places that were won at such cost?

  • moradali says:

    Bill, all those locals who opposed the terrorists and also may have provided information to the Marines, now are in jeopardy. They need protection. Why is US making life hard for them?
    It is a huge mistake not to have had the Iraqi army come and fill in, and not to have captured Qaim.
    Frankly, I am not sure anymore what this operation Matador was for. Was it worth it? If the intention was to make friends, the US may end up with fewer friends. These half-way jobs are just not going to cut it.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Wow, this post was aptly titled. Please watch the language and try to discuss matters without getting to personal in the insults.
    We still don’t have the full picture. I read there is an Iraqi unit training to head into the Qaim area. Lets be a little patient and remember this operation is 7 days old.
    Go read my bio. I was enlisted, so does that mean I am unqualified to have an understanding of tactics and strategy? Here’s some news: I got out as an E-4. I picked a dead MOS (31C) and paid the price. Switched to infantry in the National Guard but wasn’t in long enought to go to BNCOC or become an officer. You don’t need to have been an officer to understand. Just wanted to get that out there.

  • moradali says:

    Bill, I think this was the plan – The idea was to get them terrorists (foreign & domestic) on to the north shore of the river. And then cut them off.
    What happened instead was prior to the official start, them terrorists fled mostly to Qaim and across the border into Syria. Some stayed in Obeidi and fought. That is why the command said they were “surprised” to see the north shore bereft of terrorists. And that is why there were reports of tribal and local clashes in Qaim, even before the official start.
    They then canvassed the north shore and the south shore without entering Qaim and only found 125, and dispatched them promptly to their beloved virgins (who incidentally were ready for them with open arms according to Az-Zarqawi, the Caliph who has a hotline to heaven).
    The US and Iraqi army needs to take over Qaim. It will be a lot easier than Fallujah given its size and the sympathy of the locals. But without that, this area has not been pacified.
    Also they have to build their fortifications along the Syrian border to cut it off. What is keeping this from happening?

  • Tim says:

    Love your site and your work – thanks for doing it. And thanks for serving our country.
    Reponding to your point, I’ve no beef at all with anyone, especially EM’s and NCO’s, weighing in on strategy and tactics – except when grade and service is the sole authority someone like garpuller cites for his thoughts. I was mocking his appeal to authority – especially when they appear so ill-considered for a SFC. Anyway, thanks again for you great work here.

  • Ray Gardner says:

    It’s only a slight aside but a good read; the debunking of the faux pacifists. Richard Posner’s treatment of Noam Chomsky in “Public Intellectuals; A Study of Decline” is masterful.
    According to these types, all war is bad, particularly when Americans are involved. But they have an incredible blind spot on other such atrocities. Such as seeing decapitating, civilian murdering butchers as “organized resistance” or better yet, insurgents.
    Like the old days when Lefties would argue about our involvement in Latin America. It was liberation when Che and other Soviet backed thugs murderously pressed their ideology but a crime when we became involved to any degree to stop it.

  • Operation Matador in Northern Iraq

    As most of you know, allied forces are sweeping through the north of Iraq near the Syrian border, and finding it surprisingly well fortified as they chew through their objectives. We have the roundup.

  • Red-on-Red

    The brutal acts of violence directed at civilians and Iraqi police is losing favor among some of the members of the Iraqi insurgency. During Operation Matador, we saw examples of the local tribes, some of…

  • al Qaeda’s Diplomatic Mission

    Zarqawi threatens to kill the Egyptian ambassador, while the Muslim governments maintain their diplomatic missions and Iraqi Sunnis disapprove of al Qaeda’s actions.


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