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Iraqi guerrillas may strike at Ramadan

Oct. 5, 2004 at 6:34 PM

WASHINGTON, Oct. 5 (UPI) -- Iraqi insurgents may be planning an "October Surprise" of their own, a leading U.S. Middle East analyst has warned.

"There is a disturbing prospect that the insurgents could try in Ramadan this year to mount a more significant offensive than any attacks to date," Patrick Clawson of the Washington Institute for Middle East Policy wrote in a new study.

"Such an offensive would underline the insurgents' claim to act in the cause of Islam, it could significantly complicate plans for elections in Iraq and it might aim to influence the U.S. elections," he wrote.

The Moslem holy month of Ramadan begins on either Oct. 15 or Oct. 16, depending on the first sighting of the new moon.

Clawson suggests first the possibility that Shiite and Sunni resistance forces strike simultaneously. "A well coordinated insurgent assault in both Sunni and Shiite areas would be a disturbing escalation," he wrote. "Operations by larger units, or simultaneous operations in separate cities, would indicate a greater degree of coordination among insurgent forces, suggesting that it may be able to assume control once the U.S. forces leave."

Clawson also warned: "A more challenging target would be to directly assault coalition bases, such as the Green Zone. ... The greatest publicity and the largest impact on U.S. opinion come from kidnapping foreign civilians."

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