Politics & Policy

Gen. Martin Dempsey: Terrorists In Iraq Have ‘Partnered’ With Saddam Hussein’s Old Party

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress that the terrorists threatening Baghdad have “partnered” with the former party of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in their effort to overthrow the current government.

“In this cauldron of northern Iraq, you have former Baathists,” Dempsey told Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) during a Thursday hearing when she asked how many terrorists have mobilized against the government.  ”You have groups that have been disenfranchised and angry with the government in Baghdad for some time. And, as ISIL has come, they’ve partnered. I suspect its a partnership of convenience and there’s probably an opportunity to separate them, but that’s why the number is a little hard to pin down.”

ISIL is the acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The group is also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Business Insider has some background on the Baath’s role in the latest violence. “The Naqshbandis, located primarily in Mosul, were formed in 2007 by former members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath party. Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, Saddam’s former deputy and the head of the Baath party following Saddam’s execution in 2007, is in charge of the group,” Jeremy Bender explains.

“The Naqshbandis have also significantly shaped the inner workings of ISIS,” Bender adds. ”A former Baathist colonel was reportedly behind the ascension of ISIS’s current leader, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, to power after his predecessor was killed in 2010. The Naqshbandis have also held direct talks with ISIS that have given the group governing power over conquered territory for the time being.” 

Mosul fell last week. “Having these terrorist groups control a city in the heart of Iraq threatens not only Iraq but the entire region,” Time quotes Osama Nuajaifi, who represents the city in Iraq’s parliament, as saying.

The United States needs more information before President Obama can authorize some sort of attack on the terrorists. ”Until we can actually clarify this intelligence picture, the options will continue to be built and developed and refined and the intelligence picture made more accurate, and then the president can make a decision,” Dempsey said during the hearing. “It’s not as easy as looking at an iPhone video of a convoy and then immediately striking.”

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