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ICG Risk Blog - [ November 13, 2004 ]

Forecast on Iraq from a Pakistani founder of al Qaeda

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Lieutenant General Hamid Gul is an interesting fellow. Prior to being retired by Musharraf, Gul was former director general of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and a designer of the International Muslim Brigade that evolved into the International Islamic Front which bin Laden later came to head. Gul firmly believes that the US is conspiring against Islam and so it should come as no surprise that he is utterly unrepentant with regards to Pakistani proliferation, has said that 9/11 was a US/Israeli conspiracy, feels that Musharraf has sided with the US "under duress" ("I don't think his heart is in it. He has the same genes which I have. He was my student, he was my subordinate in the Pakistan army. We have served together. How can he be pro-America?"), sees the US as a threat ("Because they are targeting Islam. Islam is their new enemy ... because Islam talks of a system of egalitarianism, and they are capitalists."), and one that can be bested (("We are not afraid of the Americans, they can't fight on the ground. We are only concerned about their high-altitude bombers. India and Pakistan must find a solution to their high-altitude bombers.")

Still, one can learn from those whom we have cause to dislike. Referring to my forecast for hostilities, Forecast for Iraq and Afghanistan: taking the pulse of the war on terror and When mere pessimism is an optimistic analysis, I found some of Gul's comments interesting, even considering his inherent bias:

Unsurprisingly, Gul believes that the "sustained strengthening of the insurgency" will "grow into a widespread, organized resistance," noting that the current level of resistance is restrained due to al Sistani's keeping "Shi'ites away from the resistance as Shi'ites are interested in participating in the elections. Had Shi'ites been a part of the resistance movement at this stage, the US would have had a difficult time in keeping its presence in Iraq."

Even as US and Illawi forces believe that the preponderance of insurgents are Baathist and Iraqi, Gul looks forward to a magnet effect:

the way resistance groups have driven the US nuts in Iraq could set a new dynamic in the world and give new life to liberation movements. The death of Yasser Arafat has also left no leader who can convince Muslim youths that politicking is a solution. Now nobody will be ready to listen to Muslim intellectuals who believe in negotiations rather than military struggle.

Muslim youths will see their success in military struggles and I see an emergence of a "Muslim International" in which Iraq will be the center. I think 7,000 to 8,000 foreign fighters have already joined hands with the resistance. They are not alien to Iraqi culture. They are youths who share the same culture, speak the same language and wear the same dress. In the coming days, I believe thousands more will join. This is a trend which cannot be suppressed by the state apparatus issuing verdicts that suicide attacks are prohibited in Islam. Arab youths can flock through Iraq's largely unguarded borders to reinforce the resistance movement.

In the coming phase, in my opinion, the resistance will make Baghdad the center of the resistance, where all resources will be pooled to blow away US interests.

Remembering that members of the then extreme Irgun and the Stern Gang that survived assassination by the Haganah rose into the political elite of Israel, it is interesting to note that Gul feels that international support will accrue to the resistance:

Support comes with the passage of time when a movement proves its credibility [after] Bush's re-election, there is visible annoyance in countries like Russia and China, even in Europe, against US policies, and it will be a matter of time before they trust the guts [bravery] of the resistance movement and extend their support.

Gul foresees a "Muslim International" in which al Qaeda has a role in Iraq:

Most of the al-Qaeda figures have already left Afghanistan... Iraq is the next destination. Now the entire focus is on Iraq, where all [resistance] groups are investing their resources to make the resistance a success.

Gul feels that the resistance could rise to "about 40,000 to 50,000, including former Ba'ath Party members, Fidayeens, other military and para-military forces, and foreign fighters."

Asia Times states that "Sources in the Afghan resistance movement... decided before the US invasion of Iraq to make that country a hub of their activities. An organization called the Jaishul al-Qiba al-Jihadi al-Siri al-Alami had already been formed to send groups of jihadis to Iraq from time to time. These included Afghans and Arab-Afghans. Well before the [2004] Islamic holy month of Ramadan, the resistance held a meeting in southern Baghdad. It was attended by representatives of many different Iraqi groups, which decided to launch "Operation Ramadan" all over Iraq."

Gul's forecast is too similar to my own.

Resistance blueprint
By Syed Saleem Shahzad
Asia Times
Nov 13, 2004

A thousand Fallujahs
By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times
November 12, 2004

Fanning the flames of resistance
By Syed Saleem Shahzad
Asia Times
Nov 9, 2004

US occupation through Iraqi eyes
By Pan Hu
Asia Times
Oct 30, 2004

Gordon Housworth



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