Storming Baghdad A Suicide Mission: Israeli Experts


OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, April 5 ( & News Agencies) – Driven by a hands-on experience in gritty Arab resistance, Israeli military experts advised the U.S.-led troops to steer clear at all costs of a ground battle in the Iraqi capital and rely on intelligence from Iraqi defectors to eliminate the leaders of the Iraqi regime.

"Capturing Baghdad by force would be like if somebody decided to commit suicide," Arnon Soffer, professor at the University of Haifa and at the National Defence College, told Agence France-Presse (AFP) Saturday, April 5.

Soffer said that as the U.S. weigh their different options for gaining control of the capital Baghdad, American forces will not lose sight of one of their main objectives: finding Saddam Hussein.

Soffer argued one way U.S. forces can get Saddam is by conducting nightly incursions into the center of Baghdad "with a mighty power for a short period of time."

Israel’s top military intelligence officials believe the United Sates should put storming Baghdad on the back burner, at least for the time being and mull other options.

"There is the option of imposing a closure ... blockade, assassinations ... special operations," Director of Israeli Military Intelligence General Aharon Zeevi Farkash told the daily Yediot Ahronot Friday, April 4.

He believed U.S. troops were "testing the ground," and that they were a lot more experienced now than they were two weeks ago at the start of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Another way of hunting Saddam is to win over collaborators close to the regime soon either with money or promises, according to Mordechai Kedar, senior research associate at Bar Ilan University's Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.

Intelligence Is The Answer

For his part, Shlomo Gazit, a retired major general and former head of military intelligence, said that without good intelligence on Baghdad, the U.S.-led forces would be faced with two scenarios: laying siege to the city of about 5 million and waiting for it to surrender or going in for what could be a "bloody war" literally "from house to house."

"If there is one lesson, I would call it in one word: intelligence," said Gazit.

He claimed that without exceptional intelligence the Israeli army's invasion in 2001 of Jenin, in the northern West Bank, would have been a lot more deadly for both sides.

However, top U.S. military brass seem to be playing it cool regarding their plans for Baghdad and, as would be expected, are keeping their cards close to their vest.

They are not convinced of the Israeli notion of siege and other things.

"You're just going to have to be ready for lots of things. So this notion of a siege and so forth, I think, is not the right mental picture," said General Richard Myers, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, in a press conference on Thursday, April 3.

Myers said that once Baghdad is isolated, what is happening inside the city becomes "irrelevant" to the rest of the country.

The U.S. troops seized control of Saddam's International Airport, 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the center of Baghdad, early Friday and were preparing for a decisive assault on the city.

The fighting, which raged as the troops attempted to gain full control of the facility, began at about 7:30 am (0330 GMT), shortly after U.S. forces said they had seized about 80 percent of the sprawling civilian and military airport complex.




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