Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Triangle of Death 2

A glimpse into the post-Fallujah world of the Sunni insurgency may have been provided by an evanescent web posting used to communicate between the insurgency's leadership, its cells and external supporters. ABC News reports:

The new message opens with a plea for advice from Palestinian and Chechen militants as well as Osama bin Laden supporters in Afghanistan and Pakistan. "We face many problems," it reads in Arabic, "and need your military guidance since you have more experience."

The problems, the message says, are the result of losing the insurgent safe haven of Fallujah to U.S. troops. It says the insurgency was hampered as checkpoints and raids spread "to every city and road." Communications broke down as insurgents were forced to spread out through the country. The arrest of some of their military experts, more "spies willing to help the enemy," and a dwindling supply of arms also added to the organizational breakdown, it reads. But the message also lists new "advantages," claiming insurgent groups are spreading -- to Mosul, Tikrit, Baghdad, and as far south as Basra.

It would be unwise to conclude that the insurgents are on the run without further collateral evidence because effective disinformation is often pitched to what we want to believe. With that caveat in mind, the message claims the insurgency faces "many problems" due to command and control and logistical problems. The dispersal of enemy fighters, largely as a result of the loss of Fallujah, has made secure communications between cells slow and difficult. The new gaps have provided the US with opportunities to insert spies or surveill couriers. A second major factor has been the tourniquet applied on their lines of communication from 'checkpoints and raids to every city and road'.

The earlier River War post suggested that Fallujah was the opening US move in a campaign to roll up the insurgency's lines of communication; specifically to detach it from its strategic rear in Syria and to push back its principal logistical attack base to points further from Baghdad. The web posting reported by ABC News, if accurate, suggests the enemy is well aware of the danger they face and are attempting to adapt to new conditions. The appeal to their jihadi comrades in Afghanistan and Pakistan is intriguing because it suggests that the Taliban's style of fighting may now be viewed as the relevant model by the Iraqi insurgents. From their previous position of pre-eminence, the Taliban have been forced to adopt a very dispersed and low intensity fight against a US force allied to an increasingly established government. It is a position which the Sunni insurgents, unless they can reverse their fortunes, may soon find themselves in.