April 25, 2007: The call for American troops
to promptly get out of Iraq raises the question of what exactly would happen if
the U.S. forces did leave, say, by the end of the year. If we stay in Iraq, we
delay, perhaps even prevent, the expulsion of the Sunni Arab minority (they
used to be ten percent of the population, but are now down to about five
percent, and are still the source of most of the terrorism.) Four years ago, the Sunni Arabs were twenty percent of the population. As the Sunni Arab
population gets smaller, the terrorists have fewer places to hide. This can be
seen in the plan to wall off some of the remaining Sunni Arab neighborhoods in
Baghdad. Analysis of terrorist movements had shown that these neighborhoods
were the sources of most of the suicide bombing attacks. By restricting road
access to one carefully monitored checkpoint, car bombers would be forced to
find another base of operations, and be more likely to get caught. The wall
would also keep out Shia death squads, who are expected to return once the
security build up in Baghdad is over, later this year. But the way Arab
politics works, the wall building got stopped when the Israeli security wall
was invoked. Despite the fact that the Israeli security wall stopped terror
attacks, that wall, and by association all similar walls, are considered evil.
You can't do it, even though the purpose of the wall was explained to Iraqi
politicians, who understood and approved it, before construction began. The
Sunnis would rather be dead, than not be politically correct, and the Shia
agreed. The continuing suicide bomb attacks on Shia Arabs has only increased
the belief among the Shia that the Sunni Arabs have to go.
If we leave, two things happen. First, the
Kurds and Shia Arabs take care of the Sunni Arab terrorists the traditional
Middle Eastern way. That gets very ugly, with massive civilian casualties and
most of the Sunni Arab population turning into refugees. Any criticism is
deflected by insisting its all about self-defense and justice for Saddams
There's also the risk of a civil war between Shia
Arab factions (backed by Iran and the Arab Gulf states, respectively.) The
Turks will keep the Kurds in check, no matter what, although if we leave the
Turks will be tempted to annex northern Iraq (and its oil fields), which used
to be part of Turkey (not an imperial province), until 1919.
The Shia Arabs are now about two-thirds of the
population, and they are gearing up for a real civil war. The factions backed
Iran (especially the Sadr and Badr groups) are trying to take control by force.
The majority of Shia Arabs want power, but they don't want a religious
dictatorship. These "democratic" Shia Arabs are arming and getting more violent
in their resistance to Iran-sponsored militants. More of the terrorism in Shia
areas (which is a small fraction of what the Sunni Arab terrorists are
creating) is directed against other Shia political groups, not foreign troops.
There's always the threat that Iran would simply
invade Iraq, and install an "Islamic Republic" (religious dictatorship similar
to the one in Iran). With no American troops there, what's to prevent this? The
Arab Gulf States cannot stop the Iranians, although the Turks might be
persuaded to. The Iranians could avoid that by making a side deal with the
Turks, involving how to handle the Kurds, before going in. The Iranian
government sees democratic Iraq as a threat, because most Iranians want a real
democracy, and they are not getting it because of the religious dictatorship
they are stuck with. The Iranian radical groups, in the form of the Quds Force,
keeps the pot boiling in Shia Iraq so that Iraq does not become a base for
Meanwhile, opponents of the Iraqi operations back
in the United States are getting nervous about the success of the security
operations in Baghdad and its suburbs. The fact that nearly all the Sunni Arab
tribes have joined the government is seen as a political disaster by many U.S.
politicians who have declared Iraq a failed venture for the United States. It's
a bizarre situation, and long has been. You only have to visit web sites
frequented by Iraqis or American troops, to see that what is reported in most
of the media about Iraq is invented, or distorted beyond all reason into an
Checking out what Iraqis feel, you also get the
impression that everyone wants the violence to stop. Iraqis want this so bad
that they are willing to give up some of their most coveted goals to have some
peace (and a piece of the booming economy). Indeed, many Iraqi Sunni Arabs have
long suggested that there be no terrorist violence, and that within a decade or
less, the smarter and better organized Sunni Arabs would be back in charge.
While in theory this plan has merit, in practice it forgets the desire for
revenge among Kurds and Shia Arabs. Saddam ruled by terror for decades, and his
thugs wore no masks. The terrorized Kurds and Shia knew who their tormentors were,
and they want blood. This is a key reason for the continued terror attacks.
Many of Saddams thugs cannot, or will not, flee the country. They have no place
to go, and believe in victory, or death. Getting the Sunni Arabs back in power
is out of the question, so the Sunni Arab terrorists are basically fighting to
the death. One way or another, they are going to die. The only question is, how
many Iraqis and Americans will they be able to take along.