According to dissident Iraqi Kurd, Kamal Majid, the Iraqi resistance is winning. The 77-year-old academic told a conference on War, Imperialism and Resistance that his visit to the country he left when it was being ruled by Saddam is confidently taking on the occupiers, but "the Americans have invested $350 billion and they are not going to go home easily. They are not going to leave tomorrow. This is also what happened in Vietnam." Interestingly, he touched on the death squads, making the following suggestion:
"What happened is that the Americans trained death squads (of Iraqis) in Hungary before the invasion to take on members of one another community. My own cousin, a Shia, was trained in Turkey. But when he was asked to kill Sunnis, he just ran away.
"It was the Americans who spoke about Shia majority areas and Sunni triangles. Iraqis never used such expressions earlier. Despite American propaganda (that only Sunnis are against them), three Shia groups are fighting the Americans."
I knew that there were militias being used by the Americans very soon, but I have not before heard that there were squads of Iraqis being trained in Hungary prior to the invasion. Of course it wouldn't be surprising: the CIA used Iraqi exile groups to launch a series of terror campaigns in Iraq during the 1990s, including the blowing up of a schoolbus. They would presumably have reckoned that they might need to wage a terror war, even if they totally underestimated the scale of resistance.
Indeed, despite all the current talk of civil war - which I'll come to in a minute - the main fears of US military leaders at the moment are resistance fighters picking up activity in the north of the country while Baghdad is under lockdown. There has been a recent 30% rise in attacks in Diyala - a 70% rise in attacks on coalition troops since last Summer - and so Bush is sending in thousands more troops in a drastic escalation (which some US antiwar activists are resisting with direct action).
Now, about the civil war. Although, as I have repeatedly indicated, there is a genuine civil war dynamic, what is interesting is how this is being used ideologically. We have already seen it used as an excuse to continue the occupation, to 'contain' the fighting. However, there is an increasing trend among establishment liberals in particular to say 'well, if they don't want to be liberated, then fuck em up the arse with a big stick', while the Bush administration insists that all was going well until the bad men started killing each other. Obviously, their narrative is deeply racist, as per this account from Time Magazine. As Richard Marsden points out, it transforms America's ruination of Iraq, into Iraq's ruining of "US hopes": the occupiers wanted so much for the people of Iraq, but those ungrateful, angry, hateful bastards have spoiled everything. It obviously omits the American strategy of promoting sectarianism and running death squads, so that inevitably the combat has to be explained as the result of some deep historical loathing between Shiites and Sunnis.
The tipping point in Bush administration's narrative is the bombing of the al-Askari mosque. Even on the day it happened, you could see this becoming the cri de coeur of the apologists for occupation: 'we' would have been able to up and leave, having safely midwived a free Iraq, had it not been for the troublemakers. The Washington Post gathers some serious experts to challenge these claims - but all on the basis of whether US strategy was 'working' or not. I await the next batch of statistics on resistance attacks, but the reality is unlikely to have altered a great deal since mid-2006 when it was confirmed that long after the al-Askari shrine attack the attacks on troops still far outnumbered the attacks on civilians. If anything, the statistics for Diyala, which is a mixed province, indicate that the war against the occupiers is much more the focus than it was one year ago. They're gambling an awful lot on this escalation, and if it doesn't work they've got their excuse prepared: the Iraqis simply couldn't live up to our noble aspirations for them.
(Note, the image above, of Juba The Baghdad Sniper wiping out Superman, is by Carlos Latuff, on his new site, found via Socialist Worker).