Destroying Iraq’s Oil Industry Is Top Target of New Organization led by Baathist ex-Generals
Up until mid-September, the predominantly Sunni Arab insurgent movement fell into two loose groups: The “Iraqi Muslim Emirates,” the umbrella organization of factions allied with al Qaeda; and the “Jihad and Reform” coalition affiliated with the rival Sunni fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood.
Now, according to DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s counter-terror sources, the Baath party which formed the backbone of Saddam Hussein‘s regime has established a powerful new insurgent organization.
At a secret confabulation held on Sept. 3, the heads of the 22 Baathist-dominated groups established the “Supreme Command for Jihad and Liberation,” dedicating it to a twofold mission, which would take precedence even over the insurgency against the US army.
One, The total disabling of Iraqi oil fields;
Two, The destruction of pipelines carrying Iraqi oil to domestic and export markets.
Their heavy focus on battling al Qaeda has deflected American policy-makers and war planners from taking stock of the burgeoning Baathist underground, although it now bears responsibility for 40 percent of the violence in the country.
These former Saddam adherents have decided that the oil weapon is the key to “liberating Iraq.” In any case, they say, the Sunni Arab population does not benefit from oil revenues because of its geographic location outside the oil regions and, moreover, those revenues make the rival Kurdish and Shiite communities strong. Therefore, the Baathists feel they have nothing to lose by sabotaging the black gold which feeds the resources of the two rival communities.
The Baathist heads also calculate that by halting the flow of two million barrels a day of Iraqi oil, they have it in their power to wreak havoc on international oil markets. Even the Saudis would be unable to fill this huge shortfall.
The new Supreme Command for Jihad and Liberation was also given four subsidiary tasks:
Iraqi Shiites, Kurds and Iran targeted after oil
1. To blow up high-tension power systems which feed electricity to the oil fields, the pumping stations and the country at large
2. To hit Iranian centers of control in the Shiite regions of Iraq, chiefly the southern town and province of Basra, and to carry out cross-border attacks on Iran’s oil infrastructure at Khorramshar and the refineries town of Abadan.
3. To counteract the Kurdish campaign for domination of the northern oil city of Kirkuk. This would mean stopping the forced exodus of the Arab inhabitants installed there under Saddam Hussein’s Arabization project.
4. To thwart Shiite supremacy of Baghdad.
Do the Baathists have enough manpower to carry through this ambitious plan of action? DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s Iraq sources believe they do.
The new command, they report, boosts and refocuses the Baathist’s substantial fighting resources. Our sources in Iraq disclose moreover that some of Saddam’s key generals and professional military men have been drafted in to lead the new campaign after eluding American capture for four years.
Former vice president Izzat Ibrahim al Douri, promoted to field marshal, is the top man of the Supreme Command for Jihad and Liberation, our sources disclose, coupled with the religious imam Sheik Ali Abdallah Al Obeidi, appointed to oversee that combat operations abide by Islamic tenets.
For Saddam Hussein’s old socialist-secular Baath party, this is a revealing innovation indicating that the movement has undergone religious radicalization.
The new insurgent command is being slapped into the shape of a regular army with military tactics, in place of a loose agglomeration of rebels and terrorists, by the following ex-officers, who served under him Izzat Ibrahim in the days of Saddam:
Turning irregular insurgents into regular armed force
Ex-Gen. Amar Muhammed Amin, once a division commander in the Republican Guards, has been made responsible for policy and organization;
Ex-Gen. Khaled Suleiman is head of intelligence and national security;
Ex-Gen. Muhammed Salah Alwan takes charge of administration and finances. Alwan, former commander of an army under Saddam, is the scion of one of the most influential and wealthy families of the northern town of Mosul;
Ex-Gen Salah e-din Ahmed is head of the department for recruiting and information.
Dr. Kenaan Ami is the new command’s spokesman;
DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s Iraqi and counter-terror sources report six of the most powerful of the 22 Baathist armed organizations stand by to serve with the Supreme Command for Jihad and Liberation;
The Naqshbandiyya – one of the major Sufi orders of Islam, whose adherents in Iraq are more than a million strong;
The Latif Husseini Revolutionary Brigades – the Baath party’s operational arm in the Shiite regions of Iraq, which concentrates mainly on the shrine cities of Najef and Karbala;
The Brigades for Liberating the South – The Baathist underground movement in the southern city of Basra and its environs;
The Al Fars Army – Baathist Kurds who operate in all parts of Kurdistan. This organization has two offshoots:
The Diyala Front for Jihad and Liberation and The Iraq Combatant Front – a grouping of several armed Baathist factions in the Baghdad region;
The Ibn Walid Army – so named for the famous Muslim conqueror in the days of the Prophet Mohammed, this faction’s center of operations is the turbulent region south of Baghdad.
Under the resolution passed by all 22 Baathist organizations at the end of their conference on Sept. 21, the new Supreme Command for Jihad and Liberation is under orders to embark on an assault on all of Iraq’s oil fields and infrastructure as a top priority.