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ICG Risk Blog - [ Neo-Iraqi WMD capacity: Sunni on US/Coalition forces, Sunni on Shia, and Sunni on Sunni ]

Neo-Iraqi WMD capacity: Sunni on US/Coalition forces, Sunni on Shia, and Sunni on Sunni

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Lost in the partisan struggles of assigning guilt or vindication of the US administration's decision to invade Iraq over presumed WMD stocks is that fact that Iraqis - primarily Sunnis - are attempting to produce a new WMD (primarily chemical) capacity.

I submit that this capacity will be used against US/Coalition forces, and Shias and other adversary Sunni groups.

And once made, those stocks will be sold to other insurgent groups within and without Iraq, a condition that Saddam Hussein had not allowed.

The release of the addendum to the Iraq Survey Group's report on Iraqi WMD, commonly known as the Duelfer report, dealing with such matters as prewar movement of WMD material out of Iraq; residual proliferation risks in people, equipment and materials, and Iraq’s military industrial capability, was reported out very differently in the US and EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) press.

Agence France-Presse focused on neo-Iraqi WMD capacity above all else:

Insurgents fighting against US forces and the new government in Iraq are making a concerted effort to gain chemical weapons capability… with the help of Iraqi scientists, who worked for Saddam Hussein, and that [they] used chemical munitions remaining from the 1980s Iran-Iraq war in attacks against coalition forces.

"There are multiple reports of Iraqis with general chemical and biological expertise helping insurgents to produce chemical and biological agents."

The CIA was aware of at least one unnamed Iraqi scientist associated with the pre-Gulf War weapons of mass destruction program assisting guerrillas, while another was involved in clandestine attempts to produce chemical mortar munitions.

a string of underground chemical laboratories allied with Sunni extremists known as the Al Abud network was found in and around Baghdad.

the Muthanna and Fallujah chemical production facilities [were] thoroughly looted following the US-led invasion, and the missing equipment "could contribute to insurgent or terrorist production of chemical or biological weapons."

Caught up in our domestically polarized politics, the addendum was reported out in the Washington Post with top line leads such as:

The [report] refuted many of the administration's principal arguments for going to war in Iraq

Iraq's ability to produce nuclear arms [has] "progressively decayed" since 1991. Investigators found no evidence of "concerted efforts to restart the program."

Although Syria helped Iraq evade U.N.-imposed sanctions…, the investigators "found no senior policy, program, or intelligence officials who admitted any direct knowledge of such movement of WMD."

Farther down the page:

Because of the insular nature of Saddam Hussein's government, [the] investigators were "unable to rule out unofficial movement of limited WMD-related materials" to Syria or elsewhere.

Towards the bottom was the interesting part:

As for the possibility that insurgents in Iraq will draw on the expertise of Iraqi scientists to develop unconventional weapons for use against the United States and its coalition forces, the report describes these efforts so far as being "limited and contained by coalition action." The survey group was aware of only one scientist assisting terrorists or insurgents. He helped them fashion chemical mortar munitions. The report found that missing equipment, however, "could contribute to insurgent or terrorist production of chemical or biological agents." In most cases the equipment appeared to have been randomly looted, but in selected cases it appeared "to be taken away carefully."

I submit that there is an emerging neo-Iraqi chemical capability by one or more combinations of insurgents, Baathists, criminals, and opportunists that is being paid insufficient attention in the unclass press. That multipolar capacity will emerge as the possibility of civil war has never been greater between Sunni and Shia and, less well known, adversarial Sunni factions.

Seeds of heightened civil strife in Part 2.

CIA warns Iraqi insurgents trying to fashion chemical weapons
WASHINGTON (AFP)
Agence France-Presse
Apr 26, 2005

Report Finds No Evidence Syria Hid Iraqi Arms
By Dana Priest
Washington Post
April 26, 2005

Addendums to the Comprehensive Report of the Special Advisor to the DCI on Iraq’s WMD
March 2005

Comprehensive Report of the Special Advisor to the DCI on Iraq’s WMD
30 September 2004
Key Findings, Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3

Gordon Housworth



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