Iraq: May 29, 2004


Violence against Iraqis, by Iraqis, continues to be the major problem in Iraq. While the isolated incidents of violence between Iraqis and coalition troops gets most of the media attention, the Iraqi versus Iraqi violence is much greater, and much more important to the average Iraqi. The violence is being done for both political and criminal reasons. Kidnapping gangs have been active for most of the past year. As the Iraqi economy has boomed, more wealthy Iraqis have appeared. The kidnapping gangs don't go for big scores, as the really rich are heavily guarded. But the growing middle class of doctors, engineers and merchants make easy targets, and an opportunity to get anywhere from a thousand to $10,000. There is also a lot of car jacking, as there are more than twice as many automobiles in Iraq since Saddam was overthrown. Many of  the gangs are composed of men who used to work for Saddams secret police, so they have weapons and know how to use violence to get a job done. As a result of all this, Iraqis are more concerned with street crime, than the armed political factions that are trying to take on coalition troops. 

Then there is the political violence. Many of the Baath Party officials and enforcers who used to run Iraq are now, in loose coalition with foreign al Qaeda and Arab nationalists, terrorizing Iraqi police and government officials. The goal is to force people to refuse these jobs. Baath, al Qaeda and the Arab Nationalists do not want a democracy in Iraq, and are willing to kill to prevent it. Their alternative is another Baath Party dictator, or al Qaeda religious dictatorship. Al Qaeda and Baath are natural enemies, and despite their current cooperation, it is understood that if the coalition can be driven out and democracy short circuited, Baath and al Qaeda would then have to fight it out for supremacy. For this reason, neither organization has much popular appeal among Iraqis. 

Shia radicals like  Muqtada al Sadr are not widely popular either, as Iraqis are pretty much fed up with fanatics and tyrants and are looking forward to giving democracy a chance. 



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