/ resistance / stigmatized /
The ceaseless demonization of Iraqis committed to ending foreign control of their country is a key ideological crutch for maintaining the American occupation. Smearing the armed resistance as a band of murderous thugs is well understood by American war planners to be a crucial part of effective counter-insurgency work. Obviously, brutal and horrific attacks on Iraqi civilians have been carried out by some forces claiming to be a part of the resistance. But there is strong evidence from US government and independent intelligence data suggesting that this phenomenon has been wildly exaggerated and torn out of context, creating a false public perception that serves to prop up domestic support for the occupation.
Junaid Alam in Left Hook, documents the case that, despite the propaganda blanket description of the resistance in Iraq as evil madmen, targeting civilians is hardly characteristic of most of the armed groups. He bases this assessment on an analysis of the factual evidence mentioned in a Center for Strategic and International Studies' report, titled: The Developing Iraqi Insurgency: Status at End-2004 [pdf].
That there obviously exist factions among the resistance that do target civilians in an effort to fan the sectarian flames, the author does not deny. Yet he points out that they are obviously a minority (judging by the number of such attacks compared to actions against occupation forces and collaborators), and refers to a recent report from Iraq, written by Patrick Cockburn, where the author notes that:
...The split is between Islamic fanatics, willing to killing anybody remotely connected with the government, and Iraqi nationalists who want to concentrate on attacking the 130,000 US troops in Iraq.
Posters threatening extreme resistance fighters have appeared on walls in Ramadi, a Sunni Muslim city on the Euphrates river west of Baghdad.
Insurgents in the city say that resistance to the Americans is being discredited by the kidnapping and killing of civilians. "They have tarnished our image and used the jihad to make personal gains," Ahmed Hussein, an imam from a mosque in Ramadi, was quoted as saying...
At the same time, in another Iraqi city, civilians were certainly targeted, very probably not just with conventional weapons, but with