media has generally ignored what is really going on in Iraq. Rather than see
what Iraqis, and U.S. troops are actually dealing with, an attempt by the Sunni
Arab minority to win back power via a terror campaign, Western journalists and
politicians ran with the "Western imperialism" angle. Very 19th
century, but an illusion that even many Moslems in the region quickly
discarded. The thousands of dead Moslems, victims of Islamic terrorists,
horrified those closest to the carnage. Also getting little attention from the
media was the dynamics of how Sunni Arab neighbors of Iraq (mainly Syria,
Jordan and Saudi Arabia) provided varying degrees of support for the
terrorists. That support is waning, now that it's clear how reviled the
terrorists are. Al Qaeda went to war in Iraq, and lost. Ask any Iraqi, or
American soldier there. But that's not news back home.
What is news is the political
infighting among the Shia factions. This recently erupted into a major battle
during religious festivities in Karbala, as members of the Badr and Sadr
militias fought each other over who would run the show. Over a million pilgrims
are in the city to observe the birthday of a major religious figure. The clergy
told the pilgrims to leave, as the fighting left over fifty dead, and hundreds
wounded. The Badr and Sadr militias are the two major groups backed by Iran.
But not controlled by Iran, at least not as much as Iran would like. The
problem is the one that crops up all over the region. There is still a
tradition of warlordism, and using guns rather than negotiations, to settle political disagreements. On top of all
this, there is the religious angle. A minority of Iraqis don't want democracy,
but rather the rule of a religious dictatorship, as in Iran. But there is no
agreement on who shall run this. There are two major Shia factions, represented
by the Badr and Sadr (Mahdi Army) groups. The leaders of each of these
organizations wants to occupy the senior government posts of an Iraqi (Shia)
Islamic State. But al Qaeda wants a Sunni Iraqi Islamic state. This is
strenuously opposed by over 90 percent of Iraqis, who equate al Qaeda with
intolerance against Shia Moslems, and persecution of the Kurds (for not being
religious enough, and not being Arab at all).
And then there's that old
constant, the corruption. Those contending for the leadership of an Iraqi
religious dictatorship know that, if they win, they will have a license to
steal. That's what the Iranian clergy have done, and they are hated for it by
most Iranians. But it is also noted that, since the Iranian clergy established
their dictatorship over two decades ago, they have created an efficient police
state that has made removal of the tyrants very difficult.
It's these corrupt
dictatorships in the region that breed terrorism. In fact, if you check the
history of the region, you'll note that this has been going on for centuries.
Time to break the cycle, which is never an easy or pleasant event. But U.S. and
Iraqi troops are dealing with the terrorism angle. Al Qaeda is being chased all
over central Iraq and, while this is not new, it is much appreciated in Iraq,
there have been far fewer terror attacks of late. The terrorists have been
forced to spend most of their energy avoiding death or capture. But they are
getting caught or killed. But American troops can do little about the
corruption, although they may be called in by the government to help disarm, or
at least contain, the Shia militias.