Iraq: April 23, 2003

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Three types of Iraqis are trying to take power in various parts of Iraq; religious leaders, tribal chiefs and returning exiles with money. The religious and tribal leaders have tradition behind them and American civil affairs troops are generally willing to work with them. But the returning Iraqi exiles are more of a problem. The ones from the west hustle about making promises and handing out gifts. None of these leader types are particularly anti-American, but will shoot at Americans if there is a fight with tribal, ethnic or religious enemies and the yanks get in the way. In the south, some religious leaders are rivals with others in the same area. In the north, Arabs, Kurds, Christians and Turkmen all have long standing grievances against each other. In Baghdad, half the population is Shia, half is Sunni. American Special Forces and Civil Affairs troops are all over the place, and their activities are not all that photogenic. Few reporters were ever embedded with these troops, but their activities will decide if Iraq will be at peace or slip into anarchy in the next few months.

US Marine light armor (armored car units) have begun patrolling the Iranian border and spot checking people entering from Iran. American intelligence has discovered Iran sending intelligence officers into Shia cities in southern Iraq. Islamic radicals in Iran are trying to instigate uprisings in Iraq and the formation of an Islamic republic. Most Iraqis don't want an Islamic Republic, having noted what a disaster an Islamic Republic has been in Iran these past 24 years. But the Islamic radicals know that by surrounding Iraqi religious  leaders with well armed followers, a takeover would be possible. 

 

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