Iraq: October 27, 2003

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At least five bombs went off in Baghdad, killing over 30 people and wounding over 200 more. One bomb went off outside a building used by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Several went off outside a police stations and another went off outside a government ministry. An ambulance was used for the bomb set off outside the ICRC building. Nearly all the casualties of these bombs were Iraqis. American bases are very well defended, so the terrorists are apparently going for more exposed targets, like police stations.

When the Moslem Brotherhood used similar bombing tactics  in Egypt during the late 1980s and early 1990s, so many civilians were killed that the Brotherhood lost a lot of their popular support (for their battle against government corruption.) This led to more tips from civilians and the rounding up of most of the Brotherhood activists. By the mid 1990s, the Moslem Brotherhood was destroyed in Egypt, with many of those not arrested having fled overseas to join Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda organization. Iraq, however, is s slightly different situation. The resistance in Iraq is led by Sunni Arabs (Baath Party) who want to regain control of the country.  Working with this group are Islamic radicals (al Qaeda and local religious zealots), who would normally be fighting the Baath Party. Thus the resistance in Iraq has an ethnic minority (the 20 percent of the population that is Sunni Arab) as a base of support. What's developing is a civil war, similar to what went on in Lebanon from 1975-90. There, Islamic radicals (mostly Shias) first used suicide bombers against their political enemies (mostly Arab Christians.) The civil war in Iraq will probably be more vicious than the one in Lebanon, because the Sunni Arabs were quite savage towards the Shia Arab and Kurd majority, over centuries. But the last few decades of Sunni Arab rule were particularly nasty, and the Shia and Kurds will not be gentle in dealing with Sunni Arab resistance. In some Sunni Arab areas, the locals are becoming aware that American troops are actually protecting them from the wrath of Shia and Kurd gunmen. There are still armed Shia and Kurds coming into Sunni areas looking to kill specific Sunni men who committed atrocities against Shias and Kurds. But the Americans will be withdrawing as soon as a functioning democracy is set up in Iraq. This may take two years or more, and will probably  still leave the war with the Sunni Arabs unsettled. The hostility between the Sunni minority and the majority Shia and Kurds will never end, but everyone will eventually get tired of the car bombs and other violence, just as they did in Lebanon and Egypt. There will be peace, but the Sunnis will always be looking for an opportunity to be in charge once more.

 

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