Iraq: March 4, 2004


Shia and Sunni clergy joined to denounce the terrorist attacks. Al Qaeda issued a press release denying responsibility for the bombings of Shia holy places, but also condemning Shias as heretics. 

Shia leaders use the bombing attacks as justification for expanding the police powers of the Shia clergy and the formation of an independent Shia militia. But the Shia already have a militia in the holy cities, and these militias were unable to keep the terrorists out. The basic problem is the Iraqi tendency to want power, but not responsibility, and to blame someone else when they screw up. This pattern is seen with the officials and police commanders hired since Saddam's government fell. Moreover, the massive amounts of documents belonging to Saddam's government that have been captured show that the problem was an old one. Saddam dealt with it via the use of terror and rewards. And even that didn't succeed, as during the last few years, Saddam was being successfully lied to and deceived by his key aides. 

There are Iraqi leaders who have better grasp of reality, and they advise the coalition to be patient and persistent. Iraqis have noted the growing al Qaeda violence in Saudi Arabia, where they can't blame it all on the United States. Many Iraqis know that Ansar al Islam, a Sunni radical organization, composed largely of Kurds, affiliated with al Qaeda and supported by Iran, has been staging terrorist attacks in the north. But it's hard for most Iraqis to accept the fact that Moslems would kill Moslems like this. Accepting this means admitting that militant Islam can be evil and that Arabs are behind some of the most mindless violence on the planet. 

The coalition says it will increase the border police. But a big problem with the current border force is corruption and bribery. Smugglers have, for centuries, worked out deals with the border guards. This is considered a traditional and acceptable way to earn a living. Even Saddam was unable to completely seal the borders. Moreover, terrorists inside Iraq have access to plenty of weapons and explosives. Saddam bought lots of both during his three decades in power and lots of stuff was looted as his government collapsed. If you're a terrorists and you have cash, you can buy all the explosives you need from criminal gangs.


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