Iraq: The Age Of The Assassin


May 4, 2011: Terror attacks killed 251 last month, still less than ten percent of the monthly deaths during the height of the terror campaign four years ago. More ominous is the fact that a fifth of the current terror deaths are assassinations, often with a pistol equipped with a silencer. Most of the killings have been traced back to Sunni Arab groups (like al Qaeda and the Baath Party) that believe Sunni Arabs should be running the country. Sunni Arabs, a minority, have long dominated the government (even though Iraq was part of the Turkish empire for most of the last four centuries.) But about the only thing Baath (a secular party) and al Qaeda agree on is that democracy is bad, and that Iraq will never work unless led by a Sunni Arab dictatorship. Baath wants a secular dictatorship, al Qaeda wants a religious dictatorship. What neither group likes to discuss is that many of these murders are meant to persuade officials to leave alone lucrative Sunni Arab criminal enterprises. Corruption, especially when it makes a lot of money, is popular and, for illegal political groups, essential, activities. If the Sunni Arabs can't run the country, they can at least dominate the criminal underground.  

The Iraqi police continue to grow in numbers and effectiveness. Thus a lot of the assassinations are directed at key police commanders. Another popular targets are religious leaders who preach against violence, and Shias (the majority, being over 60 percent of the population) in general. Violence between Kurdish and Iraqi security forces is increasing, although it's still minor compared to all the other terrorist and criminal killings. The terrorists still carry out bombings against the dwindling Christian community. Most Iraqi Christians have fled the country over the last century, in response to the unrelenting hostility by some Islamic groups. These days, many Moslem Iraqis are also trying to get out of the country which, despite all the oil wealth, still doesn't work (nearly a century after the end of Turkish rule).  One of the oddest aspects of the assassination campaign is the number of scientists and doctors killed (nearly 500). This is a mystery to all concerned.

The Kurds, who have been free of Saddam's rule a decade longer than the rest of the country, are not happy with the corruption and misrule their elected leaders have provided. There are daily demonstrations against the corruption and calls for new elections and big changes. The two ruling clans are determined to hang on to their power, and money. The Kurds have shown themselves more willing to work out compromises, but it's not happening yet on the corruption and misrule issues. Some of the terror deaths are taking place in the Kurdish north, where the violence may be connected to the growing popular unrest against the corruption in the government.

April was also the deadliest month for U.S. troops (with 11 dead, five in combat) since 2009. There are still 45,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, and some still conduct raids and patrol along with Iraqi forces.

May 3, 2011: U.S. and Iraqi forces captured al Qaeda leader Mahmoud al Obiedi, and two of his key aides. This is believed one of the aftereffects of the raid on Osama bin Laden's Pakistani compound on the 1st. In addition to the death of bin Laden, much data was seized, which was immediately gone over for leads to other prominent al Qaeda personnel. Al Qaeda threatened retaliation for the death of bin Laden, but nothing unusual has happened yet. Most Iraqis cheered the death of bin Laden, including many Sunni Arabs. This was because most Sunni Arabs want a secular government, while bin Laden advocated a religious dictatorship. Al Qaeda was also responsible for killing over 50,000 Iraqi civilians, many of them Sunni Arabs. The Iraqi Baath Party cheered the death of bin Laden, calling it a blow to Sunni Arab Islamic radicals (especially al Qaeda).

May 1, 2011: American troops raid Osama bin Laden's Pakistani compound, killing the al Qaeda leader.

April 19, 2011:  The governor of the Kurdish province of Sulaimaniyah banned all unauthorized demonstrations (most of them against corrupt government). The ban could not be enforced.

April 15, 2011: Another mass grave from the Saddam period was found in the north. This one contained over 800 bodies. Saddam's secret police and troops killed several hundred thousand Iraqis during three decades of harsh rule. But all the bodies have not yet been found.

April 14, 2011: The government has banned street demonstrations in Baghdad, claiming that this is being done at the behest of merchants, who say the demonstrations are bad for business. The ban does not work.

April 8, 2011:  Iraqi police entered the camp of the People's Mujahedeen of Iran (PMOI), and killed 34 of the 3,500 people there. The PMOI fear they will be forced to return to Iran, where they all face prison or execution. PMOI are secular rebels who fled to Iraq in the 1980s, and were given sanctuary by Saddam as long as PMOI continued to carry out terrorist attacks. Iran has been pressuring Iraq to turn over the PMOI, but the U.S. was promised that this would never happen.


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