Iraq: June 9, 2003


The coalition strategy appears to consist of  working out arrangements with the many self-serving leaders who have always been out to make a deal with whomever is in power. Among these are the many tribal chiefs. The support of the tribes saved Saddam's power during the 1991 Shia/Kurd uprising, and have always maintained a degree of independence. The Kurds are still very cooperative. Among the Shias, some religious leaders are willing to work with the occupation forces, while the more fundamentalist ones are being cautioned by religious leaders in Iran to be careful. With civil war brewing in Iran, the Islamic conservatives there don't want the Iraqi Shia Islamic radicals returning from Iranian exile to give the Americans any incentive to get involved in Iranian politics. The most active opposition to the occupation troops is, as expected, the Sunni Arabs who provided the base of Saddam Hussein's support. The Sunnis have ruled the region for centuries and will lose much if there is democracy in Iraq. The Shias and Kurds are 80 percent of the population and have so many grudges against the Sunnis that few Sunnis would get elected, or much else, from the government. However, a disproportionate number of college trained Iraqis and skilled administrators and managers are Sunni Arabs. Most of these, unless they went into exile, were members of the Baath party, and thus tainted and barred from government jobs. But these Sunnis will continue to dominate the economy, and thus dominate politics via Shia or Kurd politicians they gain economic control over. But it will be a generation or more before another Sunni Arab runs the country.


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