Saddam is drawing us in

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With all the contradictory info on the war, there are three facts that cannot be denied.

The Iraqis had months before the conflict to blow up all the bridges over the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and to mine the main highways of Iraq.  The fact that they did not do this (even after the conflict started) means the present U.S. drive to Baghdad was desired by Saddam.

The average April temp. in Baghdad is 85 degrees. 95 in May and an intolerable 105 in June. (110 in July).  Average temperatures well remain above 90 degrees until October. Troops and vehicles will require vast quantities of clean water to maintain effective operation.

April through September is also the period of the Shamal – desert winds that often cover much of the area in sandstorms. Starting in June the Shamalés get hotter and can generate sandstorms that last up to 40 days.

Because our tracked vehicles and troops have been disturbing the top layers of Iraqés terrain, there will be more loose soil than normal, adding additional thickness to the air-borne sand.

The effects of all this?  Grounding of helicopters, severe limits on jet aircraft effectiveness and an inability to see more than a hundred yards on the ground.  Air filters are clogged by dust, guns start to jam, radio transmission becomes impaired and sand gets into practically every nook and cranny of man and machine.

Prediction for the war: Saddam and the Special Republican Guard will probably lay low in Baghdad and elsewhere and let the Fedayeen and other paramilitary units harass us as we try to move about the city.  (We have yet to secure even one major city in Iraq).  They have already discarded their combat uniforms and apparently dispersed into several locales.

At some point, when temps. near 100 and the the sandstorms begin again, thousands of Iraqi troops now in hiding will strike in mass at a few choke points in our supply lines, which extend all the way into Kuwait.  They may even still blow the bridges over the rivers.  Our forces will become isolated from each other, and within a few weeks will be out of water, food, and gasoline. Vehicles and men will have to come into Iraqi cities for clean water, and again be subject to commando attack.

In short, weather and logistics will win the war for Saddam.  At the end of it all most of his army (which we have seen less than one-third of) will not even have to be used as well as his air force and helicopter units.  Thousands of US troops may end up as prisoners of war, desperate for relief from heat, thirst, and in need of fuel for their vehicles.  Hundreds of American vehicles will likely be confiscated.

This scenario is very possible.  Even likely.

There is also a good chance that a strong Iraqi force in Basra, another large city we (the British in this case) have yet to seriously penetrate, will utilize a sandstorm to attack, cut all  of our supply lines to the north, and move into Kuwait itself.  Few Republican Guards (60-80,000 strong) have been found in central and southern Iraq where we expected them to be holed up to block entry into Baghdad.

Now it seems that we are relatively free to come to the Iraqi capital, raising the question where are the Guards?  With Basra being held firmly by the Iraqis, it may well be that they are actually in that locale, along with thousands of regular army, Fedayeen and more.  An indication that they are there, waiting for the right time (a sandstorm) to move, came on the second day of the war when Saddam said, in a speech, Brave Iraqis in Basra, be patient.

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Mr. Mark Gery is an independent Researcher and Analyst on Iraq and the Middle East. He is active in the anti-war movement in southern California and is an affiliate Speaker for EPIC - The Education for Peace in Iraq Center in Washington D.C. He contributed this article to Media Monitors Network (MMN) from California, USA.

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