Iraq: Suspicious Minds


September25, 2008:  In the most violent parts of Iraq, terrorist activity is down over 80 percent from 2007. But that's still 3-4 incidents a day in Baghdad. Most of this violence is gunfire, or an RPG or grenade, not bombs. There appear to be only a few bomb making cells still operational. Much of the American military activity is dedicated to tracking down and shutting down these cells. It is assumed that the terrorists will be true to their vows to fight to the death.

Iraq is slowly coming to grip with its sectarian divisions. While some Iraqi politicians continue to insist that there is no tension between the Shia majority (65 percent) and Sunni minority (under 15 percent). That's not what you hear on the street, where the cause of all misery is still blamed on the Sunni Arabs who ran this part of the world for centuries, and were particularly brutal in the decade before 2003, and got worse for several years after that. Since 2003, over half the Sunni Arabs (who were then 20 percent of the population) were forced to flee their homes, usually because they lived close to Kurdish or Shia Arab neighborhoods or villages. Too many Sunni Arabs harbored, supported or tolerated terrorists, and those killers slaughtered thousands of Kurds and Shia Arabs before and after 2003. Last year's decision by many Sunni Arab tribes, to turn on the terrorists, is still not fully accepted by most Iraqis. The feeling is that the Sunni Arabs might change their minds, and are using their change of heart to gain a respite from the increasing attacks by Iraqi troops and police. But the switch did result in heavy casualties to the al Qaeda organization, and similar terrorist groups. Many Iraqis see this as Sunni Arabs getting the Kurds and Shia Arabs to help settle a civil war inside the Sunni Arab community. The majority of Iraqis still believe the Sunni Arabs are plotting to take over the government, one way or another. While the U.S. has convinced the government to take over paying the 50,000 men of the Sunni Arab militias (the "Sons of Iraq"), the government knows this is a very unpopular move for most Iraqis. For most Iraqis, there will not be peace until there are no more Sunni Arabs living in the country.  

The U.S. wants to get the Sons of Iraq integrated into the government security forces. That means training and uniforms. Right now, there continues to be incidents where U.S. troops kill "Sons of Iraq" members because these guys, and the terrorists, where civilian clothes, and when all are present in a firefight, American troops can't keep track of who is who. The government is reluctant to train the Sons of Iraq, seeing that as a first step down the road to giving the Sunni Arabs the ability to stage another coup against the government (which the Sunni Arabs have done many times since the country was established in the 1930s). These fears are stoked by the lack of professionalism by the Sons of Iraq, which has resulted in soldiers and police getting killed when al Qaeda gunmen got the drop on then. The government security forces are trained, but still not up to the level of foreign troops.

September 23, 2008: After much U.S. pressure, the government agreed to hold provincial elections, the first in four years, on January 31st. What was holding it all up was Kurdish demands that Kirkuk be made a part of the Kurdish region in the north. This decision has been put off.

September 19, 2008: Al Qaeda finally got its September 11, 2001 anniversary video message onto the Internet. For the first time, they were not able to post it on the 11th. That was because the U.S. has specifically gone after al Qaeda media specialists working in Iraq, and has killed or captured most of them this year. In Europe, and elsewhere, there was similar pressure on al Qaedas media experts. That has led to a sharp reduction in al Qaeda video releases. The latest video tried to dismiss the massive damage done to al Qaeda in Iraq as just one of those things, the fortunes of war and all that. Al Qaeda reaffirmed that the main battle had moved to Pakistan, and played down defeats Islamic terrorists have suffered there lately. These videos are not as eagerly awaited anymore, either by the Moslem media, or the public. The terrorist message is the same, and shows no signs of changing. It's kill, kill, kill for the cause, and it's not our fault, it's all caused by those evil infidels (non-Moslems). Opinion polls indicate that al Qaeda is either ignored or hated by most Moslems, and internal al Qaeda discussions indicate a continuing debate by the al Qaeda leadership over what can be done, So far, there appears to be no new ideas, and old ones continue to fail.

September 17, 2008: So far this year, sixty percent of all the female suicide bombers used in Iraq in the last five years, have been in action. Since 2003 invasion, Islamic terrorists in Iraq have used 53 women to carry out suicide attacks. Some were captured before they could detonate their explosives, and these provided an insight into the kinds of persuasion and threats used to get women to go along with killing themselves and others. The female bombers killed or wounded about a thousand people. This has made al Qaeda even more despised, something many Iraqis thought was not possible.



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