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US Warned it Faces 'Third Gulf War' in 0aIraq
By Charles Clover
The Financial Times
Sunday 27 July 2003
Five US soldiers were killed over the weekend in a spate of 0aattacks by Iraqi militants, as a new study warned that the US may soon find 0aitself in the midst of "a third Gulf war against the Iraqi people".
On Saturday, three soldiers were killed in a grenade attack 0awhile guarding a children's hospital in the city of Baquba and a fourth was 0akilled in an attack on a convoy west of Baghdad. On Sunday, the fifth was killed 0aby a grenade attack south of Baghdad near the city of Hilla.
Forty-nine coalition troops have been killed by militants in Iraq 0asince the beginning of May, and attacks average 10 to 20 a day throughout the 0acountry. General John Abizaid, the new commander of Centcom, on July 16 became 0athe first senior US official to acknowledge that what the coalition faces in 0aIraq is a "classical guerrilla campaign".
A study on guerrilla warfare in Iraq by the Center for Strategic 0aand International Studies (CSIS), a Washington think-tank, blames bad planning 0aby the US administration and the low priority given to "conflict termination" 0aand nation-building strategies by the Pentagon.
CSIS military specialist Anthony Cordesman says the US has not 0alearned the lessons of past conflicts, that "even the best military victories 0acannot win the peace".
He writes: "Unless this situation changes soon, and radically, 0athe United States may end up fighting a third Gulf war against the Iraqi people . . . It is far from clear that the United States can win this kind of 0aasymmetric war."
The study is likely to be a further blow to the US 0aadministration, already facing mounting criticism for chaotic reconstruction 0aefforts in the country.
Mr Cordesman offers a grim assessment of the future of the Iraqi 0aconflict: "The most likely case still seems to be a mixed and poorly 0aco-ordinated US nation-building effort that does just enough to put Iraq on a 0abetter political and economic path, but does so in a climate of constant 0alow-level security threats and serious Iraqi ethnic and sectarian tensions."
The Pentagon's policymakers saw the Clinton administration's 0afocus on nation-building as a waste of resources, the report says.
US policymakers say the Iraq war ended too suddenly for an 0aeffective postwar strategy to be launched. Mr Cordesman credits the coalition 0awith avoiding many of the worst-case postwar scenarios, such as massive refugee 0acrisis and wholesale destruction of energy infrastructure.
But Mr Cordesman offers a detailed critique of the planning and 0aanalysis that went into the war - 26 "avoidable problems" ranging from failure 0ato introduce a police force to assuming that toppling Saddam Hussein would have 0awon "hearts and minds". In confused and angry scenes in the Shia holy city of 0aKerbala on Sunday US troops opened fire as Iraqis protested over marines killing 0aa man the day before, Reuters reports from Kerbala.
An officer said his men returned fire in self-defence but did not 0aknow if anyone was hit. He said the man shot dead on Saturday was carrying a 0aweapon.
Doctors showed Reuters the body of a second man they said was 0ashot dead on Sunday.