|07-09-2003, 06:27 PM||#1|
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U.S. Military Scholars Warn of Wider Iraqi Insurgency
PHILADELPHIA-(Reuters) - With guerrilla-style attacks escalating in Iraq, the United States may have to begin turning over peacekeeping duties to an international force within a year, or risk a wider insurgency, military analysts warned on Wednesday.
A wave of attacks that has killed 29 U.S. troops since President Bush declared major combat operations over on May 1, appears to stem from a resurgence of Iraqi nationalism among both Sunnis and Shi'ites in the face of U.S. occupation, said scholars at the U.S. Army War College.
"If U.S. forces are still there a year from now, individuals who suggest the United States is there for bad motives will feel more comfortable stirring up problems," said W. Andrew Terrill, research professor at the Carlisle, Pa.-based War College's Strategic Studies Institute.
"Even the (Shi'ites) are saying you need to think about leaving, and they're the ones we're getting along with at the moment," he added.
Terrill and fellow scholar Conrad Crane, director of the War College's Military History Institute, consider Iraq to be the largest effort at nation-building the U.S. has undertaken since post-war Japan and Germany.
In a joint report issued before U.S. forces invaded Iraq in March, they advised senior Army staff that U.S. forces could even face a general uprising if troop presence is not scaled back within 12 months.
The British forces who created Iraq in the aftermath of World War I faced tribal uprisings, terrorist attacks and a jihad proclaimed from the Shi'ite holy city of Kerbala. The situation stabilized in 1921, only after the British had suffered about 2,000 casualties.
U.S. troops, who some analysts say could remain in Iraq in some capacity for five to 10 years, could face new dangers once angered Iraqis realize U.S. authorities would not counter a rebellion with Saddam-style repression.
NEED TO MOVE QUICKLY
"That may in fact embolden them," said Terrill, a former Pentagon intelligence officer. "If you have an expanding insurgency, it's going to inhibit countries from contributing troops to an internationalization effort. You want to squeeze the commitments out of them while you can."
That means U.S. authorities need to move quickly to either set up a national security system run by Iraqis or bring in international peacekeeping troops from other nations, possibly including Muslim countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh.
"The world is coming to help: that's the message we have to send," said Crane, who believes U.S. troops have too few civil affairs and military police officers for non-combat duties that could help defuse tensions.
"We need the help," he added. "Not only would it give us numbers on the ground but international contingents would bring in expertise. And Muslim contingents would bring a certain acceptance and awareness that Western troops don't have."
The United States has asked several countries for peacekeeping assistance, including Pakistan, Bangladesh and India. But few tangible steps to assemble a large international contingent have occurred up to now.
Crane suggested U.S. authorities could also use assistance from France and Russia, two countries that openly opposed the U.S. war in Iraq. "We've worked with them before, and we've meshed well with them. Obviously, there'd be political hurdles, but they'd be helpful," he said.
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