Iraq: November 27, 2004

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Sunni Arab rebels continue to concentrate their efforts on those who work for the new government, especially the security forces, and for the coalition. Hundreds of such "traitors" were murdered in Fallujah over the past year, and that cowed the population. American troops will remain in Fallujah until Iraqi police can arrest enough of the bullies and take them out of circulation, to enable police to get, and keep, control. The same drill is being applied to other towns in Sunni Arab areas. Some Sunni towns and neighborhoods have resisted the Saddam thugs. But this is difficult. The Baath Party has had several decades to develop effective ways to terrorize a larger population. But the Sunni population is divided. Until last month, the government thought they could convince enough tribal and religious leaders to take on the thugs in Fallujah. Didn't work. Words often don't work against people who live by intimidation. 

There's a slightly different situation in Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, and the largest city in the north. The population is about half Sunni, with the rest mostly Kurdish, plus a number of other minorities. The Sunni Arab gangs in Mosul managed to destroy the 5,000 man police force (most of them simply walked away from their jobs rather than fight). The army and security forces have been harder to deal with. So in the past week, 41 members of the security forces have killed, many were beheaded as well. Threats were made to families of those in the security forces. At the same time, money was offered for those who would spy for the Baath Party while serving in the army or security forces. This sort of thing is not as distasteful to Iraqis as it is to Americans. The use of corruption in public life is an ancient custom in the area, and was a basic governing tool throughout the Saddam period. The government is fighting back in kind. This is why the government has some of its best troops guarding the oil fields. Corruption is another way of saying you are using money as a weapon, and Iraqs oil is what everyone is fighting over. So far the government is winning, mainly because enough Iraqis are willing to step up and join the security forces, or work for the coalition. They risk their lives to support a change from the old ways of terror, intimidation and corruption. Al Jazeera and the Arab media will not admit this until the very end, because the Sunni Arab world wants the Iraqi Sunnis to be running Iraq again. So in the meantime, the real war goes on behind the stories of fighting and "brave Iraqi guerillas."

 

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