Iraq:  Main battleground in war on terrorism?


When he stood shoulder to shoulder to shoulder with George Bush in Downing Street on 20 November 2003, the Prime Minister described Iraq as the “main battleground” in the war on terrorism.  This conflation of the invasion of Iraq with the US response to 9/11 has been the Bush administration’s favourite theme of late in an attempt to bolster support for a not very popular war.  Bush has even gone so far as to say:


“We'll defeat the terrorists there so we don't have to face them on our own streets.”


If there is any truth in that at all, then it must mean that those who are attacking US forces in Iraq are Al Qaeda or associated with Al-Qaeda.  In the light of this, it is interesting to note the following:


“Only about 350 out of the 12,000 captured or held at [sic] interrogated as of 1 November were foreign volunteers, many of which had entered the country before the war. A maximum of 25 were suspected at some point of having serious ties to Al Qaeda, and only 3-5 remained suspect as of 1 December. (The US had in excess of 5,000 Iraqis and foreign volunteers in custody as of 27 November.)”


The latter is from page 8 of a report entitled Iraq and Asymmetric Warfare written by Professor Anthony Cordesman and published on 6 December 2003 by the Center for Strategic & International Studies in Washington.  The report contains detailed information about current US military activity in Iraq, so it can be assumed that it was prepared with the assistance of the US authorities.  It is therefore reasonable to assume that the information about captured foreign volunteers, and the number suspected of having Al Qaeda connections, is accurate.


Al Qaeda presence on the “main battleground” in the “war on terrorism” seems to be strangely small.


Could it be that the insurgents are just Iraqis who object to Iraq being occupied?  And that if the US/UK had not invaded Iraq there would be no insurgents?



Labour & Trade Union Review

January 2004