Iraq: June 21, 2004


The anti-government violence in Iraq is causing a annualized death rate of 15 per 100,000 population for terrorist activities alone. That compares to a murder rate in the United States of 5.6 per 100,000.  European nations have an average rate of about four per 100,000 (although some West European nations are below two per 100,000,  while Russia is 20 per 100,000.) Some nations are particularly violent. South Africa has a murder rate of 59, and neighboring Namibia is 45. Colombia, in South America, was over 50 a few years ago, but is now down to the 30s because a crackdown on armed militias. The Middle East tends of have low murder rates, with Turkey having a rate of 2.3. Israel also had a rate of 2.3, until the Palestinians began their terrorism campaign in late 2000. The deaths from suicide bombings and other attacks doubled Israel's murder rate to about 4 per 100,000, although that has been coming down in the past year.

But Iraq has become accustomed to a high murder rate. Saddam's police forces were the cause of many murders, and as far back as the 1970s, the official murder rate was 12 per 100,000.  The coalition forces and Iraqi security forces have gotten the non-terrorist murder rate down to about five per 100,000. This, combined with the deaths caused by terrorists, produces a rate of about 20 per year. The murder rate in Washington, DC, is over 60 per 100,000. 

The Interim Iraqi government is planning to form a larger and more unified police and security force, and use it to declare martial law in those areas that continue to resist. This means Sunni Arab areas like Fallujah. It means civil war. The Kurds and Shia Arabs (who together are 80 percent of Iraqis) against the Sunni Arabs. This has always made the United States nervous, because the Shia Arabs and Kurds have centuries of grievances against the Sunni Arabs. It's not just the murders, there are also the real estate issues. Saddam chased Kurdish and Shia Arab families from their property and moved  in Sunni Arabs. Kurds and Shia Arabs are now taking their property back. For decades, the Sunni Arabs took most of the oil wealth for themselves. Now the Sunni Arab terrorists are trying to sabotage oil production. They are saying, in effect, if we can't have it, no one can. While most Iraqis want peace and prosperity, many are willing to meet Sunni Arab violence with even more violence. This would include ethnic cleansing and lots of dead and wounded, especially among the Sunni Arab population. The coalition would be held responsible for this by world opinion. The prospect of this might motivate the majority of Sunni Arabs to organize and take care of the murderers and terrorists in their midst. But if this doesn't happen, something worse probably will. 



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