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Iraq: We Have Met The Enemy, And It Looks Like Us
   Next Article → INTELLIGENCE: Islands In The Sun

August 24, 2009: The government televised the confession of the man they say planned the twin truck bombings that killed over 100 people in the center of Baghdad. Police say they have arrested ten people involved in planning the attack. All of them have ties with the Baath Party (which ruled the nation since the 1960s to 2003). The alleged leader, Wisam Ali Khazim Ibrahim, says he fled to Syria after the 2003 invasion, but poverty forced him to return  in 2007. He had been chief of police in Diyala during the 1990s. Baath Party officials still had money in Syria, and he got orders, and cash, for the August 18th bombing, from his Syria based Baath Party boss. His group paid $10,000 in bribes to get the bomb trucks past police and army checkpoints. Such bribes are still a part of Iraqi life, and only in exceptional circumstances, can you assemble a security force that is guaranteed to resist bribery attempts. Even some American troops (usually contracting officers) succumbed to the temptation. But you are much more likely to find someone willing to betray their trust in the Iraqi army or government. This is, and has long been, a major problem in Iraq, and the region.

Since Iraq took over control of security June 30th, over 600 Iraqis have died from terrorist violence. While this is a tenth of the death rate suffered during the peak of the terrorist offensive two years ago, it's twice the death rate of the past few months. Many Iraqis blame their government, for overestimating their ability to handle security without more help from the Americans. Now, with U.S. forces slated to be gone by the end of 2011, many Iraqis fear a slide back to the bad old days of terrorism and dictatorship. Meanwhile, U.S. intelligence forces are still working closely with the Iraqis to identify terrorists and conduct examinations of crime scenes. This is kept quiet, so as not to arouse the attention of nationalist politicians who want all American troops gone as soon as possible. The U.S. commander in Iraq is eager to send his troops back into the areas of northern Iraq where the terrorists still have bases, but the Iraqi government is resisting doing that, and admitting failure.

The uptick in violence has Sunni Arab terrorists attacking Shia groups, especially in the north, in an attempt to stir up bad feelings between the Kurds (who want Kirkuk and its oil wells to be part of the Kurdish controlled north) and the Shia majority the runs the country (and is inclined to keep nearly all the oil money for itself.)

Iraqi politicians have been accusing Saudi Arabia, and other Sunni Arab states in the region, of supporting the current outbreak of Sunni Arab terrorism. The Sunni Arab countries deny the charges, and are probably innocent. The level of support Iraqi Sunni Arab terrorists are now receiving is commensurate with financial support from individuals throughout the Sunni Arab world. Some of the money is still collected by charities that front for terrorists (a popular practice in the region). But the Iraqi Sunni Arabs have, over the last six years, also established a fund raising operation throughout the Arab world. Much of the money is to help Iraqi Sunni Arab refugees, and much of that money is also available to Sunni Arab terrorists. However, it's still considered bad manners to come out against Islamic charities, even when it's widely known and accepted that some of these organizations are little more than fund raisers for terrorists.

The Middle East in general, and Iraq in particular, is not a very tolerant place. Xenophobia (hatred of outsiders) is present everywhere, but in the Middle East, the hostility towards "the others" is far more intense and homicidal. This is the basis of the violence in Iraq, where the Sunni Arab minority (15 percent of the population) are willing to risk expulsion from the country, in its attempt to get back what it believes it deserves (varies from control of the country to a proportionate share of oil revenues, depending on which Sunni Arab you ask). Smaller minorities, like Christians, have given up, and in the last century most have left the region (gone to North America or Europe). Moslem minorities feel less comfortable about leaving the Moslem world, so they just make a bigger target.

Typical of the factionalism is the cancellation of the October 24th national census. With various factions fearful of the results (as every minority tends to believe they are more numerous than they actually are), the probability of violence against the census takers, especially in the north, is too great to risk a count right now. The last census was in 1987, when 16 million were counted. It's estimated that the current population is nearly 30 million.

Government attempts to reduce the xenophobia and hatred has led to an increase in censorship. The government wants to control Internet use in the country, and ban books. Newspapers, radio and television are already subject to government censorship efforts. Many Iraqis are caught between not wanting to lose their new (since 2003) media freedoms, and wanting to silence the hate mongers.

August 23, 2009:  The increase in bombings in Baghdad has caused a halt to the program to remove many of the concrete bomb blast barriers in the city. Some that have already been removed, are being returned. But it is also believed that the recent spate of bombings changed something in the way the public viewed the violence, and their role in it. Iraqis are not only fed up with the violence, but are more willing to admit that they, themselves, often play a role in letting it happen. Not reporting suspicious behavior, and a willingness to take bribes (especially to compromise security), is now seen as a major reason why the terrorists succeed so often. People are now more willing to change their attitudes, to reduce terrorism, and bad behavior in general.

August 22, 2009: The government has admitted that the current terror attacks were carried out with the assistance of members of the security forces. Such conniving is not unknown in the region, with bribes and threats (against family) most commonly are used by terrorists to gain the inside help they need.

August 21, 2009:  Police announced the arrest of over a dozen people suspected of having carried out the twin truck bombings on the 18th. These terrorists were associated with the Baath party, which had long been led by Saddam Hussein. Baath Party terrorists have, for the past six years, trying to put Sunni Arabs back in control of Iraq.

August 20, 2009: The government has arrested eleven army and police commanders, as it investigates accusations of incompetence and collaboration with terrorists.

August 18, 2009: Two large truck bombs were set off in Baghdad, killing nearly a hundred people, and wounding over a thousand. Four smaller bombs also went off, and a third truck bomb was found and defused. The government immediately announced that something would be done about the current spurt of terrorist violence.

August 17, 2009: In the south, Iraqi troops arrested three Iraqi civilians, who were caught setting up 16 Iranian made rockets, for an attack on an American base outside Basra. Iran was supposed to have instructed all its followers in Iraq, to halt their terrorist attacks. But there are many factions supported by Iran, and not all of them got, or bothered to read,

Next Article → INTELLIGENCE: Islands In The Sun