Counter-Terrorism: Al Qaeda Plays Nicer

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February 11, 2008: An example of how grim things are for al Qaeda, and other Sunni Arab Islamic terrorist groups in Iraq, they have radically changed their tactics. The only area where the Islamic terrorists still have any strength is in northern Iraq, just below the Kurdish controlled region. There, and in western Iraq, the terrorists have begun to issue warning to civilians before a bomb goes off. These attacks are usually directed at the security forces or foreign troops. It's a big inconvenience to warn local civilians, because that makes it clear to the people being attacked that something is coming. The Islamic terrorists are also making fewer attacks on the Iraqi police, who tend to be Sunni Arabs in this part of the country. Attacks have been shifted to the Army (which is largely Kurdish and Shia) and the Americans. The Islamic radicals have also stopped killing or abusing civilians who do not adopt a sufficiently conservative Islamic lifestyle. This is painful for the Islamic terrorists, because the main reason for their violence is to establish a conservative Islamic lifestyle, and enforce it.

These measures have caused fewer Sunni Arabs to turn on al Qaeda. But there are other reasons for Sunni Arabs to support al Qaeda around northern cities like Mosul, where Kurdish attempts to drive all the Sunni Arabs out of the area continue. Many of these Sunni Arabs were brought in by Saddam in the 1990s, to replace Kurds that Saddam had driven out of the area (which contains nearly half of Iraq's oil.) These Sunni Arab "colonists" (as the Kurds call them) moved north because they were poor and Saddam told them they could take over the homes and farms of the displaced Kurds. But even that wasn't enough to keep these Sunni Arabs friendly with al Qaeda. The Islamic terrorists had to clean up their act. This is likely to make matters worse for the Sunni Arabs up north. If al Qaeda remains active, the government may give in to demands by local Kurds and Shia Arabs, and allow all the Sunni Arabs to be driven out of the region. For years, the Islamic terrorists ignored public opinion. That turned out to be a major error.

 


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