web counter Media Lies: Who to believe?

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

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Who to believe?

The Iraqi intelligence service director, General Mohamed Abdullah Shahwani, claims that the "insurgency" is 200,000 strong.
I think the resistance is bigger than the US military in Iraq. I think the resistance is more than 200,000 people," Iraqi intelligence service director General Mohamed Abdullah Shahwani said in an interview ahead of the January 30 elections.
He then goes on to qualify his statement.
Shahwani said the number includes at least 40,000 hardcore fighters but rises to more than 200,000 members counting part-time fighters and volunteers who provide rebels everything from intelligence and logistics to shelter.
So he's really talking about 40,000 full-time fighters and the rest are criminals, Ba'athist supports and opportunists. Still, the number is startling - quite a bit higher than previous US estimates.

The timing of his annoucement seems odd to me. If he has been aware of these numbers for some time, why announce them now?

Shahwani, a former Iraqi military leader who was exiled, was appointed to the position last year by Paul Bremer. Shahwani has also been a critic of the decision to disband both the army and the intelligence service after the fall of Baghdad.

He obviously meant what he said, because he's stocked his service with former Muhkabarat officers.
There may be some justification for the concern. Though intelligence service officials declined to be interviewed, Iraqi security sources who spoke on condition of anonymity said about two-thirds of the new intelligence service is made up of former members of the Muhkabarat and other intelligence groups that worked under the old regime.
Convincing Iraqis that the country's intelligence community has severed its ties with the past is crucial to ensuring more solid tips about the insurgency. But many Iraqis say the grim legacy of the Muhkabarat is difficult to set aside.
Difficult to set aside indeed. In fact I would think it would severely hinder their ability to get good intelligence from the populace. The Iraqi citizens are caught in a maelstrom between the terrorists who will kill them if they cooperate with the government and an intelligence service that harks back to the bloody days of Sadaam. That's one hell of a choice to make.

Is it any wonder that the terrorists have been so resilient and persistent?

UPDATE: Corrected the broken link to the Turkish Press story.