An increasingly brutal insurgency has set off more than two dozen car bombs this month alone. And as Allawi's government
takes power, the insurgency may be undergoing a worrying metamorphosis.
There is evidence that ex-Baathist guerrillas, known for their gun and grenade attacks, are working more closely with Islamic
militants who have been using car and suicide bombings.
Those guerrillas are expected to launch attacks aimed at disrupting those elections and discredit Allawi's government,
which was selected in large measure by the United States.
Until recently, the U.S. military logic placed the Islamic extremists at odds with guerrillas thought to be linked to Saddam's
former Baath Party. These included remnants of the Republican Guard and Saddam's Fedayeen militia, which fought doggedly against
U.S. troops during the 2003 invasion.
But the new alliance, described as a "marriage of convenience," may have been evident in a one-day offensive on Thursday
that sowed chaos in a number of cities across Iraq as guerrillas and car bombers launched simultaneous attacks that killed
over 100 people.
Gunmen attacked police stations with guerrilla tactics but were dressed in black jihadist outfits and headbands carrying
radical Islamic slogans, Kimmitt said.
"By their actions, they look like (ex-Baathists) but by their appearance, they look like jihadists," Kimmitt said. "You
don't know if they're truly jihadists or they're just wrapping themselves in the uniform."
The strife-ridden city of Baqouba, where rebels have fought U.S. and Iraqi troops in running street battles for a week,
is the crucible of this partnership. The phenomenon has also popped up in Mosul and Fallujah, two other cities with long histories
To face the insurgency, Allawi commands some 200,000 Iraqi police and other security forces, many of them ill-trained.
The U.S.-led multinational force, totalling about 150,000 troops, remains responsible for security.
"To be successful, he will need to use American power without appearing like an American puppet," said Jon
Alterman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "Iraqis will need to see him stand up to the
U.S. government to defend Iraqi interests, while drawing on U.S. technical, financial, military, and intelligence resources."