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War Is Over, But Resistance Continues

Posted August. 10, 2003 21:43,   


Friday August 8 marked the 100th day since US President George W. Bush officially declared an end to the war in Iraq.

In a radio address aired on Saturday, President Bush argued, "For America and our coalition partners, these have been 100 days of steady progress and decisive action against the last hold-outs of the former regime… Every day, Iraq is making progress in rebuilding its economy. In Baghdad, the banks have opened, and other banks will open across the country in the coming months. This fall, new bank notes will be issued, replacing the old ones bearing the former dictator`s image. And Iraq`s energy industry is once again serving the interests of the Iraqi people. More than a million barrels of crude oil and over 2 million gallons of gasoline are being produced daily… Every day we are working to make Iraq more secure."

The address, however, was not as persuasive as intended. Many experts point out that it was meant to silence all criticism about the role of U.S. solders in Iraq and the continuing conflicts in that country.

Safer Iraq?

Since the official end of all major combat, the U.S. army has sustained 56 casualties. Several days ago, even a U.S. civilian who was visiting Iraq on a business trip was killed.

On Saturday, British solders were attacked in Basra, which until then had been considered one of the strongholds for the coalition forces since Shiites, one of the greatest victims under the rule of Saddam Hussein, constitute the greatest portion of the population there.

In addition, according to a Saturday article in The New York Times, the danger is escalating not only from Iraqi Hussein loyalists, but also from other terrorist groups. The Thursday bombing on the Jordanian Embassy in Iraq reportedly killed at least 17 people.

U.S. Chief Administrator of Iraq L. Paul Bremer said on Friday that U.S. agencies had obtained information that members of the fundamental Islamic organization Ansar al-Islam, who earlier fled to Iran, have recently made their way back into Iraq. The Bush administration believes that Ansar is linked to al-Qaida. Bremer also announced that Iraqi fundamentalists, who fled Iraq during the war, have come back to Iraq to launch a large-scale attack on the coalition forces and the U.S.-backed Iraqi government. He did not exclude the possibility that al-Qaida network members were in Iraq.

Added to this is the fact that Saddam Hussein has not been captured in the four months since the war broke out, which is just another headache for the White House.

Given these realities in Iraq, the U.S. army is preparing to transfer the duty of maintaining security in Iraq to the newly organized Iraqi army, which was launched on Saturday. The Army announced that it would relegate more responsibility and power to Iraqi forces so that it could patrol more sensitive facilities such as local government buildings and hospitals.

A Long, winding road to new Iraqi government

In his recent radio address, President Bush promised to revise the Iraqi constitution and hold free elections. Bremer also stated that the general election could be held within one year.

But the new Iraqi government has not yet been fully launched due to the diversity of religions and hegemonic struggle among diverse ethnic groups. A committee in charge of its composition is criticized for lack of legitimacy, owing to the fact that the U.S. Army established it. 25 members on the Committee have agreed to only one point thus far, which is that nine of the members take turns in leading the coalition government.

Economic reconstruction?

In its latest issue, the Economist estimated that the U.S. government spends $1 billion a week to maintain its forces in Iraq, and pointed out that the spending is making worse the already creaky budget deficit in the U.S.

World Bank President James D. Wolfensohn said that any loan for reconstruction of Iraq could be made only when the Iraqi people have a legitimate government.

The Economist also predicted that the U.S. would face difficulties in materializing its plan to finance the costs for reconstruction by selling Iraqi oil. Economic plans to restore the Iraqi economy can be made only after a new government is established through an election. In addition, the continuing resistance by Hussein loyalists has hindered the resumption of oil production in Iraq.

Seung-Jin Kim sarafina@donga.com