The Iraqi admission that thousands of would-be suicide bombers are waiting to be unleashed on the US-led coalition ought not to be surprising to anyone apart from the Pentagon generals who seem to have somehow overlooked the possibility of the Iraqi resolve turning suicidal.
War historians might some day admire the resilience of the Iraqis, just as they might wonder how the best-laid plans of the world’s most powerful armed forces got bogged down in the desert. For isn’t that exactly what happened in Najaf the other day when an Iraqi officer killed four US soldiers in a suicide bombing? The attacker — dressed in civilian clothes — drove a taxi to a checkpoint and as the soldiers approached, detonated the bomb.
A day later, a Palestinian suicide bomber wounded 30 people outside a packed café in northern Israel. The Islamic Jihad dubbed the attack “Palestine’s gift to the Iraqis”. The militant group also claimed that a Palestinian death squad was already in Baghdad, ready to kill US and British soldiers in suicide missions. This apparent departure from the extremist group’s pledges not to get involved in other conflicts could now encourage other militant organisations in the region to follow suit. It’s probably as a direct result of these guerrilla tactics that the military juggernaut of the US-led coalition has ground to a virtual halt.
American commanders might insist that there’s no “operational pause” on the battlefield, and that the coalition advance has been halted only to prepare for taking on the three Republican Guard divisions south of Baghdad. But it’s obvious that the Pentagon is having a serious rethink on the irregular Iraqi forces snapping at the heels of coalition supply lines, and worse, having to fend off what increasingly looks like the routine use of suicide bombing by the Iraqis. If there is a bigger fear in Washington and London, it would be the likelihood of such strikes increasingly occurring in post-war Iraq.