Afghan, Iraqi Elections' Approach Likely to Increase Violence
By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 8, 2004 Violence in Iraq and Afghanistan is likely to increase as elections approach and terrorists realize those countries are close to implementing democratically elected governments, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Sept. 7.
"The terrorists (and) the foreign regime elements are going to recognize how close they are to losing their opportunities and how close they are to having democratic countries in those two nations," the secretary said in a Pentagon press briefing.
"You can imagine what a blow will be dealt to the extremists that are determined to impose their view of the world on everybody if in fact Iraq is successful and Afghanistan is successful in having peaceful elections," he added.
Free elections are scheduled for October in Afghanistan and January in Iraq.
As the level of violence increases, the level of sophistication of the attacks is increasing, Joint Chiefs Chairman Air Force Gen. Richard Myers said. In particular, he said, suicide and indirect-fire attacks are on the rise, and coalition and Iraqi officials are determined to put an end to this trend.
"We are aggressively seeking and capturing those insurgents who, while not willing to do so themselves, are encouraging people to commit suicide attacks," Myers said. "Make no mistake, we will continue to pursue those who seek to disrupt progress in Iraq."
Another recent pattern of attacks in Iraq is that the more enemy forces attack coalition troops, the more of their own fighters end up killed. Myers used an attack of a U.S. OH-58 surveillance helicopter Sept. 4 in Tall Afar, near the Syrian border, as an example. Myers said the attack led to five American soldiers being injured but "numerous enemy forces" being killed.
"This is a pattern across Iraq," Myers said. "The more aggressive the tactics of the insurgency, the greater their loss of human life."
Rumsfeld said the level of violence is understandable because war is "a tough, difficult business."
"On the other hand," he added. "The people of Iraq today and Afghanistan are so much better off today than they were a year ago in every conceivable respect."