Yesterday’s brutal suicide attack in the Iraqi Convention Center (shown above in one of my 2004 photos) will hopefully turn into a big mistake for the insurgents. An attack against the Parliament affected every major political entity in Iraq. Such a move was extraordinarily stupid.
There are some who will say that this attack is evidence the “surge” is not working. I would say that the opposite is probably true. Such a risky and high profile attack only advertises how desperate the terrorists have become.
Any enemy activity causes an increase in hand-wringing by the liberals back here. They don’t want the Iraqis to pull together because that would validate the strategy of hanging tough. Even the Sunnis have tired of the foreign terrorists who are killing civilians of all religions.
The Green Zone has never been all that “green”. Anyone who has spent much time there knows that attacks inside this protected compound are inevitable. Regardless of how well the searches are done, there are enemy sympathizers in every aspect of Iraqi life. This includes the Iraqi Army, the police, the politicians and the thousands of Iraqi civilians who live or work there. Such is the nature of a guerrilla war.
Hundreds of Iraqis are brought into the Zone every day to do jobs such as janitorial, landscaping or other routine tasks. The contractors who hire them as day labor are the only ones who have I.D. cards. They drive to an intersection in Baghdad and load up whoever wants to work for a day. Then they drive to one of the several gates which lead into the heart of the Green Zone.
When they reach the gates, they are all searched, but it doesn’t take much to conceal small amounts of explosives or other weapons. There are Iraqi civilians inside the Zone who can make suicide vests or explosive devices and there are Iraqi soldiers who have access to explosives, ammunition and weapons. Only a fool would believe that there are not insurgents inside the Green Zone every single day.
During my tour in 2004, two of our favorite places to “hang out” were the Green Zone Café and the Iraqi bazaar next to the hospital. Only days after we left Iraq, both were destroyed by enemy bombs that had been smuggled into the Green Zone.
The unpleasant reality is that there is no completely safe place anywhere in Iraq. Maybe someday that will change, but it won’t ever change if we withdraw with our tails between our legs.
SFC Chuck Grist