Iraq: June 3, 2003


Not unexpectedly, the Sunni Arabs (20 percent of the population) who were the backbone of Saddam's support, are providing an armed resistance to any new government not dominated by Sunni Arabs. For centuries, and particularly in the last few decades, all important jobs were held by Sunni Arabs. In particular, the army and secret police were led, and largely staffed by, Sunni Arabs. With Saddam out of  power, the Sunni Arab community has suddenly lost access to money and power. Well, not entirely. Many Sunni Arabs stashed cash and valuables abroad or within Iraq. Sunni Arabs have lots of guns and heavy weapons at home, and are using them to snipe at American troops and stage ambushes. Sunni Arabs are not great fighters, and usually get the worst of it anytime they encounter coalition troops. But many Sunni Arabs believe their own propaganda and will make these attacks anyway. But Sunni Arabs have more to worry about than coalition troops and being tossed off the gravy train. In the south, Shia Arabs are increasingly attacking Baath party members (Shia or Sunni, makes no difference), and in the north there are still gun battles between Sunni Arab and Kurdish militias. Many Sunni Arabs will never accept their reduced circumstances and will fight on until killed or jailed.  A new Iraqi government, dominated by Shia Arabs and Kurds, will have to deal with this problem for generations to come, just as they have for generations past. 


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