Iraq: July 23, 2004

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The Sunni Arab rebellion and al Qaeda terrorist campaign have killed about a hundred Iraqi security personnel and civilians in the last four weeks. That's more than twice as many deaths as American troops have suffered. The government is becoming less coy about calling the violence an uprising by Sunni Arab supporters of the Baath Party and Saddam Hussein.  American combat deaths in July are running at a rate that will total about sixty for the month. The peak months so far have been last April, with 135, November 2003, with 82 and last May with 80. Iraqi soldiers and police, however, have become more aggressive, and numerous, in their attacks on the rebels, terrorists and criminals. The gangsters play an important role in the Iraqi unrest. Criminals create most of the violence against civilians, and provide, for a price, essential services for the anti-government forces (both Sunni Arabs and al Qaeda.) While the police have been neutralized (by terror and threats) in some Sunni Arab areas, for most of the country, the police are in control. And in those contested areas, more police and security forces are going in and taking back control of the streets. In the core area of Sunni Arab control, around Fallujah, American combat patrols continue to smoke out the armed opposition and kill them. Iraqi police and security forces are moving in to take over once U.S. troops have killed, or intimidated, enough of the armed opposition. Iraqi police are very popular among most Iraqis, as they see the cops as evidence of less crime and safer streets. In the Summer, safe streets are particularly important, as that's when many people go out to socialize,  shop or just cool off. 

In addition to the "Sunni Arab heartland" west of Baghdad, there are also large Sunni Arab minorities in the north around the Kurdish dominated cities of Kirkuk and Mosul. The Sunni Arabs in the north are rather more desperate because many of them face expulsion by more numerous and better armed Kurds. In the last two decades, Saddam Hussein had forcibly removed hundreds of thousands of Kurds from Kirkuk and Mosul, and giving or selling their property to Sunni Arabs migrants from further south. The Kurds want their property back, and many Sunni Arabs want to fight to keep what they have.

 

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