Iraq: December 7, 2004

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The fighting in Iraq is a continuation of the war that began in March, 2003. While Saddam's army and government was quickly demolished, his supporters in Sunni Arab areas of central Iraq were still there. Saddam didn't rule Iraq with the army, but with a force of skilled and ruthless terrorists. With a strength of over 100,000 men (and a few women), the work was often done at night. Real, or suspected, opponents of Saddam were kidnapped, beaten or killed in the dark. Broad daylight executions, or mutilations, in public places, were also used. Terror is fueled by frightening images, either mental or visual. Day and night, Saddam's terrorists frightened the Iraqi people into submission. The work of these terrorists continues, but the victims are fighting back. Saddam's thugs were chased out of northern Iraq ten years ago, with the U.S and Britain providing backup for the Kurds doing the chasing. In southern Iraq, Shia Arab gangs have been forming to go after Saddam's men in mixed Shia/Sunni areas of central Iraq. Saddam's thugs have been terrorizing and killing Shia Arabs. This is done mainly gain dominance and control in towns and neighborhoods with mixed populations. The thugs want everyone to know who the real boss is. The main target of the Sunni Arab gangs are the police and security forces. But these are increasingly staffed with Shia Arabs and Kurds.  Saddam's men cannot threaten the families of  Kurdish cops, and are having a harder time reaching the kin of Shia Arab police and soldiers. Western journalists have a hard enough time covering the battle involving American troops, but they are almost completely cut out of this other war. All you hear reported is the occasional killing of a prominent Sunni Arab (usually a clergyman). But the body count on both sides is quite high, and trending against the Sunni Arabs.  If the Sunnis gather together in large groups, to overwhelm local police, they risk getting caught, and demolished by American troops. Operating in smaller groups, and there is increasing danger from Shia Arab (and even Kurdish) death squads. This is a very dirty war, which will eventually get reported as such. But for the moment, it's a dangerous beat for reporters, because neither side wants journalists along, and will kill any who get too close. 

 

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