May 31, 2007:
Many U.S. troops have earlier served as peacekeepers in the Balkans,
where American troops have been stationed for over a decade. Similarities have
been noted. The most common one is that the Iraqi Sunni Arabs have a lot in
common with the Serbs. Both groups are a powerful minority in a polyglot part
of the world. Both groups see themselves as the local "big brother,"
with a God given right to tell the other minorities what to do, and use lethal
force if anyone refuses to toe the line. If denied absolute power, both groups
fall back on cries of victim hood and unlawful oppression by outside powers
(some NATO nations in the Balkans, another bunch of NATO, and non-NATO, nations, in Iraq). Both groups
insist their own atrocities and brutal use of force were legitimate, and the
only way to bring peace to their part of the world. A big difference between
Iraq and the Balkans is that the Iraqi Sunnis have no "Serbia" to
flee to. As the Serbs like to point out, ethnic cleansing works both ways, and
the largest number of refugees in the 1990s Balkans were Serbs forced back into
Serbia. In Iraq, intransigent Sunni Arabs have no homeland to go to. Some Sunni
Arabs insist that Anbar Province (western Iraq) could be a "Serbia,"
but that only works if the majority Kurds and Shia Arabs agree. May 30,
2007: While combat deaths are up,
overall casualties are down. Last year, about five percent of U.S. troops in
Iraq were killed or wounded. This year, it's closer to four percent. The majority
of the losses are from roadside bombs, because American troops are more active
in Sunni Arab areas, where the bombers live, and are protected by like minded
Sunni Arabs. While many Sunni Arabs in western Iraq (Anbar Province) have
decided to side with the government, and fight against the Sunni Arab
terrorists, such is not the case in Baghdad, and the Baghdad suburbs. This was
where Saddam supporters, and beneficiaries, were concentrated. Saddam is still
regarded as a hero in these areas, and pacifying them is a hard slog. The Kurds
and Shia Arabs insist that, for the hard core Sunni Arabs, the only solution is
death or expulsion from Iraq. This is unacceptable to the United States, and an
alternate solution is being sought.
May 29, 2007:
A British computer consultant, and his four British security guards,
were taken from the Finance Ministry by men impersonating Iraqi police
commandos. This operation was apparently carried out by pro-Iranian groups.
Iran has basically bought the services of thousands of Iraqi Shias with cash
and promises of other rewards if Iraq can be turned into a Shia Islamic
dictatorship. Thus several political parties and militias are basically
branches of the Iranian secret police. But now the U.S. and British forces are
dropping earlier restraints and going after these Iranian backed groups. This
kidnapping appears to be the last straw, and American forces swarmed into
eastern Baghdad (Sadr City), to search known pro-Iranian militia neighborhoods.
The British are doing the same down south in Basra.