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    16 July 2007

    Foreign Fighters in Iraq Overwhelmingly Saudi Arabian

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    I know this is inconvenient for Bush, Cheney and their buddies. But you know what? The truth hurts, especially when your this administration.
    Although Bush administration officials have frequently lashed out at Syria and Iran, accusing it of helping insurgents and militias here, the largest number of foreign fighters and suicide bombers in Iraq come from a third neighbor, Saudi Arabia, according to a senior U.S. military officer and Iraqi lawmakers.

    About 45% of all foreign militants targeting U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians and security forces are from Saudi Arabia; 15% are from Syria and Lebanon; and 10% are from North Africa, according to official U.S. military figures made available to The Times by the senior officer. Nearly half of the 135 foreigners in U.S. detention facilities in Iraq are Saudis, he said.

    Fighters from Saudi Arabia are thought to have carried out more suicide bombings than those of any other nationality, said the senior U.S. officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the subject's sensitivity. It is apparently the first time a U.S. official has given such a breakdown on the role played by Saudi nationals in Iraq's Sunni Arab insurgency.

    He said 50% of all Saudi fighters in Iraq come here as suicide bombers. In the last six months, such bombings have killed or injured 4,000 Iraqis.

    I'd love to see some figures, similar to these but describing Shiite fighters captured/killed in Iraq. My bet is that it's a trivial number when compared to those highlighted above. If it were a large number, the White House would slip them into their talking points immediately. Iran doesn't even get an honorable mention in the linked article minus the Bush administrations claim that they are the root of all evil. Furthermore, any sunni-Syrian fighter entering Iraq is not doing so by the command of the Allawite regime in Damascus.

    Juan Cole adds:
    Think about that when you hear Bush say that the US is fighting "al-Qaeda" in Iraq or that "al-Qaeda" would take over Iraq if the US left. The foreigners just are not that important to the guerrilla war. Only .7% of detainees are foreigners, and unless they run faster than Iraqis, that is likely their percentage share in the "insurgency," too.

    ...the numbers ... pulled out of a US officer in Iraq demolish the entire image that the Bush administration and the Washington press corps has been presenting of the war.
    There isn't any significant cadre of foreign "al-Qaeda" fighters in Iraq if this is all we could capture. They can't take over the country because they are such a tiny group. Everything Bush and Cheney have said about the nature of the war and the supposed dangers of a US withdrawal is transparent falsehood.

    I think Cole understates the recruitment gains our occupation gives al Qaeda, but his point cited above still stands.

    George Bush said last week that "[t]he same folks that are bombing innocent people in Iraq were the ones who attacked us in America on September the 11th". As factually inaccurate as that statement is, one part is right: The majority of terrorists that conducted the attacks of 11 September 2001 were Saudi, just like the majority of terrorists coming into Iraq and blowing up themselves and killing US troops and innocent Iraqis are Saudi as well.

    Finally, this is by far the most infuriating statement from the article is from Gen. Mansour Turki, spokesman for the Saudi Interior Ministry:
    "Saudis are actually being misused. Someone is helping them come to Iraq. Someone is helping them inside Iraq. Someone is recruiting them to be suicide bombers. We have no idea who these people are."

    Gosh Mr. Turki. Could these people 'misusing' your citizens be one of the radical clerics you fund in you multi-billion dollar campaign to fund Madrasas and spread Wahhabism throughout the Muslim world? Quit chopping peoples heads off in the desert and come down to Earth for a moment sir.

    The web we've tangled in the MENA would be laughable if it was not so serious. Our imagined allies in the Middle East (e.g. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan) are among our biggest threats.

    Posted by Geoff

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