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Raids Net Iraqi Generals in Fallujah

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 5, 2003 – U.S. service members captured two Iraqi generals suspected of being the money behind terrorist activities in Fallujah, Combined Joint Task Force 7 officials said today.

Troopers from the 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry, conducted the raids. Coalition officials said there were a number of raids across the country. DoD officials said the raids are part of regular, ongoing operations to secure and stabilize Iraq.

"We conduct these raids whenever we have actionable intelligence," said a DoD official. "We treat all tips as serious."

Officials said another 82nd Airborne Division unit the 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry, attached to the airborne outfit found a large cache of ammunition including mortar rounds, rocket-propelled grenades and .50-caliber machine gun ammo.

The raids strike at the center of anti-coalition efforts in the country. Fallujah is the site of the toughest resistance to the U.S. occupation. The city is in the midst of the so-called Baathist Triangle bounded by Baghdad, Ar Ramadi and Tikrit.

Saddam Hussein made the region his bedrock area of support. According to Judith Yaphe, the people of the region benefited by Saddam's rule and are now attacking the coalition, not so much because they miss Saddam, but because they fear the future.

"They are afraid they will be reduced to the kind of poverty that Saddam imposed on the Shia and the Kurds," she said during a recent interview. Yaphe is senior fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University here.

The area is primarily Sunni Arab and was the center of Arab nationalist sentiment. Saddam Hussein is from the region and is part of the tribal system at its base.

That tribal loyalty complicates the situation for coalition forces in the region, Yaphe said. Saddam showered money on the tribes of the region. They were rewarded for their loyalty to the regime. The leaders of the Iraqi army, the Republican Guards, the intelligence services and other regime power centers came from the tribes of the region.

"It all comes down to who do you trust," Yaphe said. "Still the interesting aspect is that most of the attempted coups against Saddam came from the area also."

The Sunni Arabs in the region ruled Iraq under the Ottoman Empire and through the British mandate. They remained on top during Saddam's regime. Now they are not, and they fear what will happen to them, Yaphe said.

"There's a semblance of 'noblesse oblige' in the area -- a feeling of 'exceptionalism,' and the idea that 'we're special, we're the best,'" she pointed out.

Yaphe said a certain number of people in the region are driven by loyalty to Saddam, but most of the actions against the coalition are simple resentment against the United States. "They blame the United States for them being dethroned," she said. "The U.S. is blamed for their suffering."

The demobilization of the Iraqi military and "de-Baathification" efforts hit the region particularly hard. Many of the people are out of work and some have chosen to resist the U.S. occupation.

"Others maybe won't fight, but they will not turn in those who are launching the attacks," Yaphe said. "They could be members of your family or of your tribe."

With Saddam's regional roots region and tribal system encouragement, people will not easily turn over information to the Americans, she said. Those who do would be termed collaborators and would most likely be killed.

She said the American strategy is to keep hunting for these terrorists and to be prepared for a long effort. "Hearts and minds are something we're not going to win over quickly," Yaphe said.

Progress in the region will depend on how well the United States and its coalition allies can provide security. Before economic and political change can happen, the people of the region must feel safe, she pointed out. It is also very important that Saddam Hussein is killed or captured.

"To Iraqis, Saddam alive represents the idea that regime can return," Yaphe said. "It's not very realistic, but that's the way they feel. Remember, for 70 percent of Iraqis, Saddam was their only ruler."

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