DEBKA-Net-Weekly has obtained exclusive information about the new set-up and deployment of Iraq’s guerrilla forces in the aftermath of Saddam Hussein’s capture.
Iraq’s armed opposition is divided now into three main groups, and several smaller ones. It is the three big groups that are responsible for the great bulk of the attacks on American forces and their coalition and Iraqis allies.
Group led by Hani Tikriti, a colonel in Saddam’s Special Republican Guard, and by his brother Rafahi Tikriti, head of Saddam’s SSO secret service. A third commander is Sibaawi Tikriti, a half-brother of Saddam’s and full brother of Barzan Tikriti, the intelligence chief also captured by the Americans. The group operates in the Sunni Triangle, between Tikrit, Falluja and Ramadi.
Group led by General Rawi Seifallah, one of the top commanders of the Special Republican Guard. Many of the fighters in this group are drawn from the big Seifallah tribe. It is also the only group that has fighters from the Saddam Fedayoun Special Forces.
Group led by Mohsen Khafji who this week appointed himself acting chairman of the Iraqi Baath Party. He worked in the foreign department of Saddam’s intelligence apparatus and therefore has good connections in France, Iran, Algeria and with the Palestinians. The group operates mostly in the Baghdad area.
In addition, three much smaller guerrilla groups are active. These are: Ansar al-Sunna, operating mainly in Falluja and Baquba; Lagnat al-Islam; and Nasser al–Islam, which is believed to have al-Qaeda connections. There also several criminal gangs joining in anti-American and anti-Iraqi operations.
Though the guerrilla groups remain active, the wave of violence besetting Iraq over the past six months has lost much of its force since Saddam’s capture and as a result of American action. This, DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s sources in Baghdad and Washington can report, is what Paul Bremer, Iraq’s US administrator, told the White House in his latest report. Bremer spoke of the inner collapse of the terrorist apparatus, and of a dramatic increase in Iraqis informing on the guerrillas.
Because of this new situation, Bremer recommended the administration agree to two new steps.
The first, and most important, is that the US should immediately make it clear to all and sundry, including Iraq’s interim Governing Council, that American forces would not only be staying on beyond June 30, when a new Iraqi government is scheduled to assume power, but that they would continue to have a completely free hand to act as American military commanders see fit. It was important, Bremer urged, that this demand for freedom of action be made crystal clear to the Iraqis before June 30, and not just afterwards.
Secondly, taking a line from Sir Jeremy Greenstock, the top Briton in Iraq, Bremer recommended that, in a bid to win hearts and minds, American troops in many Iraqi cities should follow the example of British troops in southern Iraq and dispense with heavy protective equipment, like bullet-proof vests and helmets. They should also consider ending the intimidating habit of wearing dark sunglasses. DEBKA-Net-Weekly has to point out that American officers in the field, especially ground forces commander Lt-General Ricardo Sanchez, are vehemently opposed to this suggestion.