Whither the Insurgency? A Ramadan Offensive?
What actions is the insurgency taking to combat the loss of its key base in Fallujah? This is perhaps an unfair question, as it implies some semblance of centralized command and control within the insurgency. From the actions over the past week, it seems that this article's assessment that the insurgents, " . . . have switched to hit-and-run tactics, abandoning their previous strategy of seizing and holding terrain that could be turned into safe havens." This seems to bode well for the Iraqis and the US. If terrain is no longer controlled by the insurgents, then those who live in that terrain are now free to participate in elections and go on with their daily lives. If hit-and-run tactics are the best that the insurgency can mount, it will eventually run out of personnel, funding, and weapons caches, all of which must come from somewhere. The article goes on to state: "The insurgents aim at dispersing American firepower in what looks like a dress rehearsal for fomenting enough chaos to disrupt the elections scheduled for January 2005." It seems unlikely that the insurgency will be able to significantly disrupt the elections. No doubt it will try, but there are many ways to combat this push: First, for every attack that is prosecuted, one of two things happens. Either the attacker kills himself or is killed in the attack, or the attackers hold some limited objectives for a brief period and then are killed by coalition forces -- like in Mosul. This is an attrition battle that the US and Iraqi government will win. Insurgents must realize at this point that their continued attacks will not break the will of the United States to finish them off -- somehow conducting catastrophic attacks in Iraq prior to the US election was the action needed to shake the national resolve of the Americans. The analogy to the Tet offensive in Viet Nam has been made, and will continue to be made, but it is incorrect. Tet was effective because it happened months before the election. Another possibility is that the insurgency wants to influence the outcome of the Iraqi election, rather than its existence. This would indicate that the insurgents are gravitating more and more toward seeking a political solution. It will be interesting to see if any evidence of this strategy begins to develop. Front page mention to any reader who can find an article detailing who the candidates will be in the upcoming election.