Iraqi Insurgency Home

Composition of the Insurgency

Tactics of the Insurgency

Counter-Insurgency in Iraq

Blackwater Incident in Fallujah

The Battle for Fallujah

Biography of al-Zarqawi

The Iraqi Insurgency

An insurgency is a rebellion or uprising. Whether it is positive or negative is not indicated. However, the word does imply a certain general feeling or movement with a significant degree of public support. Was the insurgency in Iraq a popular movement? It is difficult to poll to find out. Yet, the people of Iraq have indicated that most long for peace and that the current government seems to be the best hope to provide it. Meanwhile, the level and type of violence indicates that the elements fighting to overthrow the government are a minority seeking to promote an extremist Islamic state (al Qaeda and some militia groups) or an ambitious group working to regain political power through violence (Sunni Ba'athists). Many of the Iraqi Insurgency groups are supported by outside resources from various locations including Iran, Syria, and private sources in Saudi Arabia. Al-Qaeda in Iraq, at one time led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, is not only funded from outside Iraq, but most of the fighters and suicide bombers are from outside the country as well.

Political Map of the Provinces of Iraq

The roots of the Iraqi Insurgency lie, of course, in the history of Iraq, as well as the Gulf War (refering to the Persian Gulf) and the Iraq War. Throughout this period the country was ruled largely by beligerent dictators (especially Saddam Hussein) bent on expanding the borders of the country. There was continual repression and several wars including one with Iran and two involving the United States. The first intervention of the United States in Iraqi politics was to stop Iraq from conquering Kuwait. In the later Iraq War military intervention was taken because it was believed that the nation's dictator, Saddam Hussein was on the brink of producing nuclear weapons. It was also known that he was supporting terrorist organizations. After the second U.S. victory (2003) and the removal of Saddam Hussein as head of state, the U.S. occupied the country and attempted to help set up a stable regime with a representative government.

The conflict between insurgent forces in Iraq and the U.S. military is largely exemplified by the Battle for Fallujah. Fallujah was used as a base for al-Qaeda and other elements to inflict a reign of terror on Anbar Province. After an incident in which four Blackwater security personnel were ambushed and killed going through the city, U.S. Marines moved in and destroyed insurgent forces.

Part of the insurgents' animus with the Iraqi government was the presence of U.S. forces. Even so, the presence of the United States military in the region has been a stabilizing influence. It has allowed a democratic form of government become the norm in the country. The U.S. military has also made extensive efforts to train Iraqi forces in modern tactics that minimize civilian casualties as well as to take counter-insurgency measures. After a surge of forces in 2007 to pacify the country, the U.S. has slowly been reducing its presence and allowing the legitimately elected government to assume more and more control. It is hoped in U.S. foreign policy circles that eventually Iraq will become not only stable but a good example of what democratic governments can do to advance the prosperity and happiness in the region. This also seems to be a fear of the insurgent forces. The goal of these forces is not economic prosperity, but to impose a religious oligarchy upon the people and state.

In fact, many of the tactics and methods employed by the Iraqi insurgents was focused on influencing public opinion. However, counter-insurgency measures worked to minimize this effect. A history of the Iraqi Insurgency shows an escalation of insurgent activity until the surge of U.S. forces in 2007. At that point activity began to tail off and allowed U.S. forces to train Iraqi troops to handle the situation. By August of 2010 U.S. forces in the region had drawn down to less than 50,000 and the U.S. mission to bring stability to the country was declared a success.

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Iraqi Insurgency