Sunday, November 27, 2005

Study - Iraq war in early stages, could last decades

The war in Iraq is still in its early stages and US and British troops are likely to be bogged down in the conflict for decades, a report by the Oxford Research Group said on Wednesday.

The report by Professor Paul Rogers of Bradford University provides a detailed month-by-month assessment of the developing insurgency for a year between May 2004 and April this year.

It points to the growing numbers of civilian casualties, as well as the failure to control the insurgency, even with the use of overwhelming firepower, as with the assault on Fallujah last November, and concludes that the war in Iraq has been a ‘gift’ for al-Qaeda.

Iraq has become a magnet for young jihadists, replacing Afghanistan as a combat training zone, even to the extent that jihadists from that country now travel to Iraq to gain combat experience, taking their skills back to Afghanistan to use against western forces there, it says.

Contrary to some claims, the insurgency is not diminishing and it is likely to prove very difficult to withdraw all the British troops from Iraq unless there is a major change of policy by the British government, risking a break with the United States, says the report.

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