Iraq: Nothing for Anybody

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August 22, 2007: The government has issued a list, of former Saddam cronies and officials, to Interpol, and asked for their arrest. Those on the list, including one of Saddams two daughters, are accused of financing and planning the Sunni Arab terror campaign inside Iraq. Jordan has refused to turn over Saddams daughter, Raghad, who was given refuge by the king of Jordan in 2003. Jordan has a lot of Islamic conservatives, Palestinians and Iraqi refugees, and the king must carefully negotiate the constant potential for terrorist violence, or open insurrection. But now Jordan and Syria are going to get a lot more pressure to stop providing sanctuary for the Sunni Arab groups that are trying to regain power in Iraq. The international police community have come to agree that these Iraqi exiles are playing a large role in keeping the terrorism going inside Iraq, and that will force these wealthy fugitives to hide a little harder.

Democracy is not really an alien concept in the Middle East, but political accommodation and rule of law are. Many Middle Eastern nations have democracies, but only a few of them really work. Oddly enough, the one in Iraq does work, just not in the way many outsiders would prefer. For example, the Sunni neighbors (especially Saudi Arabia) are upset that the Shia majority in Iraq has resulted in a Shia dominated government. This, Sunni Arabs fear, will result in a Iraq-Iran coalition that will dominate the region, to the detriment of Sunni Arabs. For example, the Saudi royal family believes a more powerful Iran would try to spread the Shia form of Islam, and take control of the Moslem holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

Iran doesn't like the fact a democratic vote has enabled moderate Shia politicians to dominate the government. Iran wants Iraq to be, like itself, a religious dictatorship. To that end, Iran supports (with money, weapons and advisors) Iranian groups that share the dream of an Islamic Republic of Iraq. One thing that prevents a civil war between the Shia factions, is the need to take care of the Sunni Arab threat first. Once the Sunni Arabs are neutered, or driven from the country, the pro-Iran and pro-Iraq Shia will have to settle their differences. The smart money is on the anti-Iran crowd. While 70 percent of Iraqis may be Shia, they are also Arab.

The United States, and the West in general, does not like the fact that the Sunni, Shia and Kurds cannot form a united government, and get on with the business of rebuilding the country. What the West cannot accept is the depth of the hatred the Kurds and Shia feel for the Sunni Arabs (who, with Saddam as their leader, plundered and tyrannized Iraq for over three decades). This desire for revenge is very unpalatable to the West, but is a very real fact in Iraq. Western journalists and politicians don't even want to talk about it. But on the streets of Iraq, you hear little else. The Sunni Arabs fear a massive repression and expulsion. As a result, many Sunni Arabs support the Sunni Arab led Islamic terrorists. The Sunni Arab politicians trying to negotiate a peace deal, are caught between the mistrust, and contempt, of the Shia and Kurdish politicians, and the threats of the Sunni Arab terrorists.

 

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