Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

Iraq Guerrillas Adopt a New Strategy


Understanding the brain. That’s what you have to do in a guerrilla war. Find out how it works, what it’s trying to do. An attack on US headquarters in Baghdad and six suicide bombings, all at the start of Ramadan. Thirty-four dead and 200 wounded. Where have I heard those statistics before? And how could they be so well co-ordinated–well-timed, down to the last second? And why the Red Cross? I knew that building, and admired the way in which the International Red Cross refused to associate themselves with the American occupation–even at the cost of their lives, as the guards outside their Baghdad headquarters carried no guns.

So here’s the answer to question one. Algeria. After the Algerian government banned elections in 1991 that would have brought the Islamic Salvation Front to power, a Muslim revolt turned into a blood-curdling battle between the so-called Islamic Armed Group–many of its adherents having cut their battle teeth in Afghanistan–and a brutal government army and police force. Within three years, the “Islamists”–aided, it seems, by army intelligence officers–were perpetrating massacres against the villagers of what was called the Blida triangle, a three-cornered territory around the very Islamist city of Blida outside Algiers. And the very worst atrocities–the beheading of children, the raping and throat-cutting of women, the slaughter of policemen–were committed at the beginning of Ramadan.

At Ramadan, Muslim emotions are heightened; in these most blessed of days, a Muslim feels that he or she must do something important so that God will listen to him or her. There is nothing in the Koran about violence in Ramadan or, for that matter, suicide bombers, any more than there is anything in the New Testament to urge Christians to carry out genocide or the ethnic cleansingin which they have become experts in the past 200 years, but Sunni Wahabi believers have often combined holy war with the “message”, the dawa during Ramadan.

So what was the message? In Baghdad, the message of the past two days was simple: it told Iraqis that the Americans cannot control Iraq; more important, perhaps, it told Americans that the Americans could not control Iraq. Even more important, it told Iraqis they shouldn’t work for the Americans. It also acknowledged America’s new rules of combat: kill the enemy leaders. The United States killed Saddam’s two sons. It has boasted of killing al-Qa’ida members in Afghanistan and Yemen, just as Israel kills Palestinians in Hamas and Islamic Jihad. So was it by chance that the Black Hawk helicopter shot down in Iraq was hit over Tikrit, just after Paul Wolfowitz had passed through town?

And the assault on al-Rashid Hotel almost killed Wolfowitz. He was “a room away” from one of the missile explosions. The architect of the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq was almost assassinated by America’s enemies.

And then there’s the Red Cross, the very last neutral humanitarian organisation, after the double suicide attack on the UN, which might have provided some communication between the US and its antagonists. Now it, too, has been smashed. Some of America’s enemies may come from other Arab countries, but most of the military opposition to America’s presence comes from Iraqi Sunnis; not from Saddam “remnants” or “diehards” or “deadenders” (the Paul Bremer titles for a growing Iraqi resistance), but from men who in many cases hated Saddam.

They don’t work “for” al-Qa’ida. But they have learnt their own unique version of history. Attack your enemies in the holy month of Ramadan. Learn from the war in Algeria. And the war in Afghanistan. Learn the lessons of America’s “war on terror”. Kill the leadership. You’re with us or against us, collaborator or patriot. That was the message of yesterday’s bloodbath in Baghdad.

ROBERT FISK is a reporter for The Independent and author of Pity the Nation. He is also a contributor to CounterPunch’s hot new book, The Politics of Anti-Semitism.


Robert Fisk writes for the Independent, where this column originally appeared. 

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Stanley L. Cohen
Equality and Justice for All, It Seems, But Palestinians
Steve Early
In Bay Area Refinery Town: Berniecrats & Clintonites Clash Over Rent Control
Kristine Mattis
All Solutions are Inadequate: Why It Doesn’t Matter If Politicians Mention Climate Change
Peter Linebaugh
Ron Suny and the Marxist Commune: a Note
Andre Vltchek
Sudan, Africa and the Mosaic of Horrors
Keith Binkly
The Russians Have Been Hacking Us For Years, Why Is It a Crisis Now?
Jonathan Cook
Adam Curtis: Another Manager of Perceptions
Ted Dace
The Fall
Sheldon Richman
Come and See the Anarchy Inherent in the System
Susana Hurlich
Hurricane Matthew: an Overview of the Damages in Cuba
Dave Lindorff
Screwing With and Screwing the Elderly and Disabled
Chandra Muzaffar
Cuba: Rejecting Sanctions, Sending a Message
Dennis Kucinich
War or Peace?
Joseph Natoli
Seething Anger in the Post-2016 Election Season
Jack Rasmus
Behind The 3rd US Presidential Debate—What’s Coming in 2017
Ron Jacobs
A Theory of Despair?
Gilbert Mercier
Globalist Clinton: Clear and Present Danger to World Peace
James A Haught
Many Struggles Won Religious Freedom
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Dear Fellow Gen Xers: Let’s Step Aside for the Millennials
Uri Avnery
The Peres Funeral Ruckus
Tom Clifford
Duterte’s Gambit: the Philippines’s Pivot to China
Reyes Mata III
Scaling Camelot’s Walls: an Essay Regarding Donald Trump
Raouf Halaby
Away from the Fray: From Election Frenzy to an Interlude in Paradise
James McEnteer
Art of the Feel
David Yearsley
Trump and Hitchcock in the Age of Conspiracies
Charles R. Larson
Review: Sjón’s “Moonstone: the Boy Who Never Was”