Iraq: October 5, 2004


 There has been about one car bomb a day since September 1st. In the last 24 hours, there were two in Baghdad, which killed 21 and wounded over a hundred. Two senior government officials were assassinated, and there were dozens of smaller incidents of ambush or intimidation. It is thought that anti-government groups, including al Qaueda, numbering about 7,000 active members, are causing all this mayhem. Actually, it's not that much mayhem for a country the size of Iraq, with a population of 25 million. It's a civil war between a faction of the Sunni Arab minority, and the rest of Iraq. It's the violent lost cause of Iraq's former rulers. To most Iraqis, they only know what they see on television. Since most of the anti-government gunmen are former Saddam enforcers, and most of the al Qaeda are foreigners. Most Iraqis would prefer that these thugs remain as something they see on television, not on the street. But in central Iraq, including Baghdad, the gunmen and terrorists are an ever-present danger. The government says that it's up to all Iraqis to bring law and order to the country. So men continue to line up to apply for a job in the police, security forces or army. More telephoned tips come in, especially now that cell phone service is spreading across the country. 

Because of the violence, there has been a lack of reconstruction in Sunni Arab areas. This  has caused poverty and disease to increase there. Compared to the peace and prosperity in northern and southern Iraq, the Sunni Arabs are falling behind economically. This is in sharp contrast to the past, when Sunni Arabs were favored in everything. The government has made it clear that prosperity will not return to Sunni Arab areas until law and order does. As a result, more Sunni Arabs are actively aiding the government to find and arrest Sunni Arab gunmen and al Qaeda terrorists. Al Qaeda is becoming particularly unpopular by all Iraqis. The al Qaeda suicide bombings are killing mostly Iraqis, including women and children. The terrorists don't seem to care, and have admitted that they want to start a civil war between Sunnis and Shias so that a religious dictatorship can be established. 


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