Iraq: November 1, 2004

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Iyad Allawi, Iraq's interim Prime Minister, spent the weekend warning Sunni Arab leaders, especially those in Fallujah and Ramadi, to crack down on the political, religious and criminal gangs that operate in their territory. But many of the Sunni Arab tribal and religious leaders would rather see the Sunni Arab minority back in control of the country, either as a secular dictatorship, or a religious one. While the Sunni Arab minority are not willing to accept the authority of the democratic Iraqi government, they are not united on which Sunni Arab faction should run things. The only thing that unites the Sunnis is their fear of retribution from the Kurds and Shia Arabs they killed and tormented for so long, and use of terror against Iraqis, and foreigners, that they consider enemies. In the last two weeks, government operations in Sunni Arab areas has led to over 3,000 arrests. Among those picked up were nearly 200 foreigners. As a result, the ever more desperate Sunni Arabs have increased their use of terror against government officials and foreigners. But this sort of thing is futile, only looking impressive in the  international Arab media, which cheers on the Iraqi Sunnis as if they were freedom fighters, not a bunch of murderous thugs trying to bring back tyranny.

Allawi doesn't want to go to war with the Sunni Arabs, but it looks like he will have no choice. No one in the Sunni Arab community can control the Sunni gunmen and terrorists. These thugs have perpetrated a bloody terror campaign against the Iraqi people that won't end until the Sunni Arab areas are swept clean of the gangs. But that will mean a lot of bombs and street fighting. Allawi also knows it will mean a lot of dead Sunnis, and angry kinsmen. Allawi would prefer to avoid long term problems with the Sunnis, but the Sunnis don't seem to care.

 

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