Iraq: January 5, 2004


Osama bin Laden released another audio tape in which he denounced Saddam Hussein for getting captured alive and urged Moslems to go to Iraq to fight America. Al Qaeda is being perceived more and more as a hollow organization that talks big and acts ineffectively. Al Qaeda attacks in Iraq have killed far more Iraqis than Americans. In fact, al Qaeda has not been able to make another attack in the US since 2001, and has suffered many humiliating reverses since then.

Today, the long process of turning control in Iraq over to an Iraqi government begins. The process will be complete by July 1. Between now and then, a new constitution has to be created and accepted. A deal has to be worked out with the coalition about how many foreign troops will remain for how long. There appears to be general agreement that the new constitution will allow for a federal form of government. This means that the Kurds will have a lot of autonomy within their provinces, as will all 18 of Iraq's provinces. This will create the potential for political struggles over who gets what from the oil wealth.

About two percent of the American combat casualties in Iraq have been female troops (who comprise about eleven percent of the troops in the combat zone.)


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