In an attempt to anticipate and counter the tactics of Coalition forces, jihadis in Iraq are constantly posting their observations on the forces’ activities to internet forums. The jihadis believe in the importance of studying enemy tactics to pinpoint and overcome their own operational mistakes as well as predict the Coalition’s future moves. Recently, one jihadi forum posted an extensive analysis of the law enforcement plan implemented in Iraq by U.S. and Iraqi forces (montada.yaqen.net, December 23, 2007).
A forum participant identified as “Sadiq Yaqeen, Iraqi front correspondent,” commences his analysis by citing Sun Tzu: “If you know your enemy and yourself, do not fear the consequences of a hundred battles. If you know yourself and do not know the enemy, every victory is met with a defeat. If you know neither your enemy nor yourself, you will lose all battles.” Iraq’s Islamist insurgents believe that the U.S. military allocates a significant portion of its assets to the creation of hostile propaganda that spreads false information and exaggerates accounts of the successes of Coalition security campaigns.
Following a number of U.S. setbacks at the beginning of the occupation, Iraq’s jihadis believe that U.S. forces began to study the resistance, comparing notes and conferring with allies to form a comprehensive plan to deal with the Iraqi jihadis. According to Yaqeen, the resulting U.S. plan took into consideration political and economic aspects with long-range consequences as opposed to the traditional technique of confronting violence with violence. Yaqeen divides the U.S. law enforcement plan—set into action in early 2007—into three phases:
This phase started three to four months before the actual implementation of the plan. Because a lack of intelligence was the major reason for U.S. failures in previous operations, this phase concentrated on collecting intelligence on different jihadi factions. The rivalry between various jihadi factions compromised jihadi security and secrecy, denying the resistance the element of surprise in their operations. U.S. forces succeeded in penetrating the secrecy shield of the jihadis, allowing intelligence units to analyze jihadi groups in different operational sectors and “hot spots.” The behavior and relations between the people of Iraq were examined and comprehensive intelligence situation reports were prepared.
Defensive operations phase
The objective of this phase was an all-out confrontation with various jihadi detachments, characterized by sustained direct contact by U.S. forces and Iraqi police units. This phase included defining areas of confrontation with jihadis, confining and isolating these areas, constructing camps and control points in these areas and setting up ambushes along routes frequented by jihadis.
Using military and control points, U.S. and Iraqi forces launched search and
interception operations. The size of the search operations in Iraqi cities was
unprecedented. Consequently hundreds of jihadis were detained in a matter of weeks and a significant number of arms caches were uncovered. Finally, the U.S. military command inflicted serious damage to the morale of the jihadis by turning its military personnel loose on the cities and villages of Iraq, bombing at leisure any target they deemed hostile.
In a related subject, another jihadi website calls upon the leaders of different jihadi detachments to unite in order to recover from U.S. and Iraqi military operations (iraqfront.com, December 26, 2007). The writer, using the alias “Jabhat al-Iraq” (Iraqi Front), says: “Dare I say that we, in the turmoil of the war, concentrated on attacking the enemy and forgot to strengthen our lines of defense against penetrations which led to contentions among us. We must unite all jihadi groups under one jihadi project.” Jabhat al-Iraq reminds jihadis how Baghdadis defeated Persian besiegers in 1732 without any help from the Ottoman Empire by uniting ranks and improving the training of their troops.
The call to unite all Iraqi jihadis may have a short-term positive effect on some Sunni insurgency groups with mutual religious, social or political inclinations, such as the Iraqi Sunni tribes and former Baathists. On the other hand, the Salafi-Jihadi extremists of al-Qaeda are unlikely to practice the religious tolerance needed to form a long-term Coalition with moderate Muslim tribesmen, much less with the despised Baathists.