The expansion of guerrilla activity in Iraq is only one of three reasons why the Iraqi interim government faces a similar fate to that of the Hamid Karzai administration in Afghanistan, ultimately driven back into controlling only central parts of the capital city while the rest of the country fragments or falls to insurgent guns.
The other two reasons:
Since the Iraqi government lacks a domestic army and intelligence of its own, it must depend on US and British forces to stay in power. Central government forces are moreover barred from the Kurdish autonomous regions of the north and the Shiite regions south of Baghdad. Central Iraq and its Sunni Triangle hotbeds are equally out of bounds. To compensate for its limitations, the new administration has begun striving to capture Iraqi public support by symbolic steps. DEBKA-Net-Weekly experts do not believe this can work for long and expect the new government to reach a dead end very soon.
The Kurds of northern Iraq will exploit this weakness to further strengthen their military and political self-sufficiency by shoring up their autonomous administration, pushing out the non-Kurdish Sunni Arabs and other minorities that Saddam settled in their region and taking control of the large oil city of Kirkuk.
In the south, the grand ayatollahs and clergy of Najaf and Karbala will work to consolidate their rule over the Shiite cities, while, in central Iraq around Baghdad, Baath party guerrillas and local warlords will vie for control. As in Afghanistan, attempts to “buy” the loyalty of rogue elements across the country will only weaken the central government and make it more unpopular with the public.
Iraq will effectively fall into four separate administrative entities: the Yawar-Allawi enclave in Baghdad, the Baathist guerrilla-controlled region and the Shiite and Kurdish semi-autonomous sectors.
These divisions will dictate US military redeployment and force American forces to retire to four or five main bases, each a regional command center for upholding local security.
US military headquarters in Baghdad’s Green Zone will continue to function as the overall command center for American forces in the country; it will also house the US embassy and ambassador John Negroponte. This command center will also safeguard the new Iraqi government and its capital.
The Eastern Command will oversee eastern Iraq, including the main city of Baquba and the Iranian-Iraqi border region.
In central Iraq, Regional Headquarters based at the large air facilities of Habaniyah, will direct the battle against Sunni Triangle insurgents and terrorists and keep an eye on western Iraq, including the al Qaim border sector.
The Southern Command will use three airfields the Americans captured in the first week of the Iraq invasion. Those bases will provide air cover for the British contingents securing Iraq’s southern oil fields.
The Northern Command will encompass Kurdistan and Iraq’s northern oil fields.
According to DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s military sources, the breakup of US military resources into regions addresses the immediate threat posed by guerrilla forces and al Qaeda and their drive to oust American troops from one area after another. If US forces suffer a setback in one region, the other command centers can go on operating unhindered. The new deployment will be defensive rather than offensive. Combat initiative will remain firmly in the hands of the insurgent-al Qaeda forces.