Iraq: June 13, 2004

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The Sunni Arab terror campaign has become more visible over the weekend, as two mid-level government officials were assassinated by Sunni Arab gunmen. Yesterday, a deputy foreign minister was killed, while today, a senior official in the Ministry of Education was killed.  This murder and intimidation campaign has been going on for nearly a year, as Sunni Arab radicals, seeking to restore the Baath Party, or at least Sunni Arabs, to power, use the  same terror tactics Saddam Hussein practiced so successfully to maintain himself in power for over three decades. The terror usually just comes in the form of letters left at your door, warning you to quit your job with the government or for the coalition forces.  Failure to comply is sometimes followed by an attack, which is not always fatal. The Sunni Arabs have to be careful who they kill. Many of those who are practicing this terror are doing so where they live. Kill the wrong people and you can spark a blood feud, or incur the wrath of clan or tribal leaders. A majority of the Sunni Arabs are glad to see Saddam gone, but uneasy about a democratic government that will leave Sunni Arabs a minority political, as well as demographic, group. Under these conditions, the Sunni Arab radicals have a place to hide, as long as they are careful not to kill the wrong people. The Sunni Arab terror campaign does not extend much beyond Sunni Arab areas. Shia Arab and Kurd areas have local militias, and populations who are quick to spot, and turn in (or on) strangers. The war, such as it is, in Iraq is largely restricted to the Sunni Arab areas and neighborhoods. The Sunni Arab radicals have formed groups of armed men, and in many areas, these are strong enough to challenge and face down the local police. Until the Iraqi police and security forces in Sunni areas are strong enough to confront and defeat the local gangs, there won't be peace, at least for the Sunni Arabs.

 

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