- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 30, 2003

The coalition in Iraq believes the capture of Saddam Hussein leaves three distinct groups of anti-U.S. guerrillas that must be defeated or won over in the push toward home rule by June 30.

On the must-be-conquered list are the remaining hardline Ba’athists, perhaps numbering in the hundreds and led by Saddam’s former No. 2 aide, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri. The fugitive is believed to be directing attacks on coalition soldiers and Iraqi civilians participating in building a new Iraq.

The Coalition Provisional Authority, led by L. Paul Bremer, sees two other groups that might come over to the allies’ side now that Saddam is behind bars.

Daniel Senor, a CPA spokesman, described them yesterday as midlevel former regime members who were waiting to see whether the guerrilla attacks would evict the coalition, leading to Saddam’s return.

“They were hoping Saddam would return, because they wanted their jobs back at the ministries,” Mr. Senor said. “They wanted the cars. They wanted the salary back.”

The third group is made up of junior Ba’athists who refused to help the coalition because they feared Saddam would return.

“If Saddam would return, there would be a return to the mass graves and the torture chambers and the rape rooms,” said Mr. Senor, a senior adviser to Mr. Bremer. “So those folks were just fearful of a Saddam return.”

Mr. Senor said the “hopefuls” and the “fearfuls” in the Sunni areas of Baghdad, north to Tikrit, “are now in play” to come over to the coalition side.

With Saddam spending his third week in captivity, the coalition has yet to see a hoped-for sharp decrease in attacks, said Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the allies’ deputy director for operations.

“The numbers of personnel that we’re capturing is about the same that we’ve been capturing consistently over the last couple of months, but the quality of captures has gone up a bit,” Gen. Kimmitt told reporters in Baghdad.

The general estimated the number of foreign fighters at 10 percent of the total estimated figure of 2,000 to 5,000 anti-coalition guerrillas.

“Any time that we see a car bomb, we start saying that probably is not something that was homegrown, that that might be from somewhere else,” Gen. Kimmitt said.

Saddam’s exact role in the insurgency during his eight months on the run is still a “puzzle” that the military is trying to piece together, he said.

U.S. officials have said Saddam neither actively directed the insurgency nor passively sat by. Instead, as he remained on the run, he provided money to pay attackers from cash he took from Baghdad. He also gave advice via his closest aides to the insurgents themselves as he hid in houses and holes from Tikrit to Mosul, 100 miles north.

Mr. Bremer and the 25-person Iraqi Governing Council agreed in November to an accelerated timetable for turning the country over to Iraqi rule on June 30.

To that aim, three main goals are being pursued. The U.S. Army and a growing number of Iraqi security forces are fighting the insurgency. Mr. Bremer is traveling the country drumming up support for local rule divided among the minority Sunnis and Kurds and the majority Shi’ites. And the CPA, U.S. Army and private contractors are rebuilding oil and power infrastructure, opening hospitals and schools, and delivering drinking water.

The goal is for a total Iraqi security force of about 220,000 that will include police, border patrol, infrastructure-protection corps, a civil-defense cadre and a small army.

One of the biggest problems is stabilizing the oil industry, beset by sabotage and black marketeering. The challenges are worsened by the fact that more than 250,000 new cars have entered Iraq since Saddam fell from power April 9, increasing demand for gasoline.

Protection duties have fallen on U.S. soldiers, who must watch the supply line from drilling to refinement to trucking to the commercial pump.

“We are dealing with antiquated, chronically underinvested-in oil-production technology and equipment and infrastructure,” Mr. Senor said. “This infrastructure is highly susceptible to sabotage, to attacks.”

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