Counter-Terrorism: Sewer, Water and Electricity


February 14, 2006: The anti-government groups in Iraq are finding that the most useful, and profitable, targets are also the ones that get the least publicity. Namely, the utilities. The public utilities (water, electricity, sewage) were in need of much work after the 2003 invasion. Saddam began puting off maintenance on these facilities in the early 1980s, as his war with Iran turned sour on him. Thus the public utilities were falling apart in 2003, and hardly any Iraqis were ignorant of it. There have been a lot of attacks on utilities, but over the last year, the terrorists have found that they can combine fund raising with terrorism. Not only do the well paid staff of the utilities make excellent kidnap victims, but the utility organizations themselves can be extorted. There are also more opportunities to steal as well. One tribal chief, given several million dollars to pay for his tribesmen to guard a pipeline, stole the money, and made a side deal with some local terrorists as well. While this was bold, even by Iraqi standards, it goes to show you how important money is, even when you are trying to fight terrorists.

Attacks on Iraqis too often backfires. Al Qaeda, and the Sunni Arab "resistance" in general, have become very unpopular because of their many attacks on Iraqi civilians. The attackers can't get at the Americans, who are too well protected, and too ready to shoot back, so the only people targets are Iraqis. But the terrorists are finding that if they go after the utilities, they don't have any dead civilians to answer for, and the lack of electricity tends to get blamed on the government and Americans, not the terrorists. That works much better for the terrorists. However, that approach is not likely to overthrow the government. But at this point, the Sunni Arabs and al Qaeda have pretty much given up hope of winning any big victory in Iraq. The Kurds and Shia Arabs, who make up 80 percent of the population, get stronger every day, and most Sunni Arabs now want to make a deal with the new government. But terrorism has a life of its own, and the thousands of true believers who are still into this thing, have found that turning out the lights makes more sense, for terrorists, than blowing up children.




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