Iraq: December 21, 2004

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Suicide car bombs in the last three days have left nearly a hundred dead. Most shocking were several attacks in the Shia holy cities of Najaf and Karbala. These attacks in southern Iraq caused Shia leaders to call for peace between Sunni and Shia, and for the use of armed volunteers to guard polling places for the upcoming elections. The bombings also brought forth many tips from citizens, and over fifty people have been arrested as suspects in these attacks, and earlier ones. There are over a million Sunni Arabs living in southern Iraq, but they have not encouraged terrorist attacks in order to avoid retaliation from the  much larger number of Shia in the area. Abu Musab al Zarqawi and his al Qaeda killers are believed to be responsible for most of the car bombings. Zarqawi wants a religious dictatorship in Iraq, and believes that if he sets off bombs in Shia areas, he can trigger retaliation from Shia and cause a civil war in Iraq. While nearly all the current violence in Iraq is committed by Sunni Arabs, it's only a minority of the Sunni Arab community. Zarqawi knows that unless he can get more people fighting (either the Americans, the government or just other Iraqis), then the new democratic government might succeed. This would be a major defeat for al Qaeda. However, Zarqawi's tactics are not popular inside al Qaeda. Osama bin Laden apparently does not approve, as bin Ladens latest taped message made no mention of Zarqawis operations (he encouraged attacks on oil facilities instead, something Zarqawi is not keen on.) Bin Laden believes that it's all about money, and that if you destroy the oil income, the current Arab governments will fall, and Islamic dictatorships can take over.

 

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