"- Prof. Jonez©" wrote:
> posted September 23, 2005 at 10:30 a.m.
> The 'myth' of Iraq's foreign fighters
> Report by US think tank says only '4 to 10' percent of insurgents are
> By Tom Regan | csmonitor.com
> The US and Iraqi governments have vastly overstated the number of
> foreign fighters in Iraq, and most of them don't come from Saudi
> Arabia, according to a new report from the Washington-based Center
> for Strategic International Studies (CSIS). According to a piece in
> The Guardian, this means the US and Iraq "feed the myth" that foreign
> fighters are the backbone of the insurgency. While the foreign
> fighters may stoke the insurgency flames, they only comprise only
> about 4 to 10 percent of the estimated 30,000 insurgents.
> The CSIS study also disputes media reports that Saudis comprise the
> largest group of foreign fighters. CSIS says "Algerians are the
> largest group (20 percent), followed by Syrians (18 percent), Yemenis
> (17 percent), Sudanese (15 percent), Egyptians (13 percent), Saudis
> (12 percent) and those from other states (5 percent)." CSIS gathered
> the information for its study from intelligence sources in the Gulf
> region. The CSIS report says: "The vast majority of Saudi militants who have
> entered Iraq were not terrorist sympathizers before the war; and were
> radicalized almost exclusively by the coalition invasion."
> The average age of the Saudis was 17-25 and they were generally
> middle-class with jobs, though they usually had connections with the
> most prominent conservative tribes. "Most of the Saudi militants were
> motivated by revulsion at the idea of an Arab land being occupied by
> a non-Arab country. These feelings are intensified by the images of
> the occupation they see on television and the Internet ... the
> catalyst most often cited [in interrogations] is Abu Ghraib, though
> images from Guantánamo Bay also feed into the pathology."
> The report also gives notes that the Saudi government for spending
> nearly $1.2 billion over the past two years, and deploying 35,000
> troops, in an effort to secure its border with Iraq. The major
> problem remains the border with Syria, which lacks the resources of
> the Saudis to create a similar barrier on its border.
> The Associated Press reports that CSIS believes most of the
> insurgents are not "Saddam Hussein loyalists" but members of Sunni
> Arab Iraqi tribes. They do not want to see Mr. Hussein return to
> power, but they are "wary of a Shiite-led government."
> The Los Angeles Times reports that a greater concern is that 'skills'
> foreign fighters are learning in Iraq are being exported to their
> home countries. This is a particular concern for Europe, since early
> this year US intelligence reported that "Abu Musab Zarqawi, whose
> network is believed to extend far beyond Iraq, had dispatched teams
> of battle-hardened operatives to European capitals."
> Iraq has become a superheated, real-world academy for lessons about
> weapons, urban combat and terrorist trade craft, said Thomas
> Sanderson of [CSIS].
> Extremists in Iraq are "exposed to international networks from around
> the world," said Sanderson, who has been briefed by German security
> agencies. "They are returning with bomb-making skills, perhaps stolen
> explosives, vastly increased knowledge. If they are succeeding in a
> hostile environment, avoiding ... US Special Forces, then to go back
> to Europe, my God, it's kid's play."
> Meanwhile, The Boston Globe reports that President Bush, in a speech
> Thursday that was "clearly designed to dampen the potential impact of
> the antiwar rally" this weekend in Washington, said his top military
> commanders in Iraq have told him that they are making progress
> against the insurgents and "in establishing a politically viable
> Newly trained Iraqi forces are taking the lead in many security
> operations, the president said, including a recent offensive in the
> insurgent stronghold of Tal Afar along the Syrian border - a key
> transit point for foreign fighters and supplies.
> "Iraqi forces are showing the vital difference they can make," Bush
> said. '"They are now in control of more parts of Iraq than at any
> time in the past two years. Significant areas of Baghdad and Mosul,
> once violent and volatile, are now more stable because Iraqi forces
> are helping to keep the peace."
> The president's speech, however, was followed by comments made
> Thursday by Saudi Arabia's foreign minister. Prince Saud al-Faisal
> said the US ignored warnings the Saudi government gave it about
> occupying Iraq. Prince al-Faisal also said he fears US policies in
> Iraq will lead to the country breaking up into Kurdish, Sunni and
> Shiite parts. He also said that Saudi Arabia is not ready to send an
> ambassador to Baghdad, because he would become a target for the
> insurgents. "I doubt he would last a day," al-Faisal said. Finally, The
> Guardian reports that "ambitions for Iraq are being
> drastically scaled down in private" by British and US officials. The
> main goal has now become avoiding the image of failure. The paper
> quotes sources in the British Foreign department as saying that hopes
> to turn Iraq into a model of democracy for the Middle East had been
> put aside. "We will settle for leaving behind an Iraqi democracy that
> is creaking along," the source said.