Iraq: May 22, 2005

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The Sunni Arab community has received its wake up call, and is responding. No longer able to back the Islamic terrorists (because over 500 Iraqis have been killed by terrorists in the last three weeks), the Sunni Arabs have accepted their minority status (about twenty percent of the population) and united to make a deal with the majority (the Kurds and Shia Arabs). Saddam's old supporters, the Baath Party, is still strong, and willing to use terror against Sunnis, and everyone else. But the Baath Party hard core is only a few hundred thousand people, and are much damaged by their connection with al Qaeda, and all those Iraqis killed by the Islamic terrorists.  

The Sunni Arab community is itself split. They have Islamic conservatives, pro-Western secularists, Iraqi nationalists and Arab traditionalists. Many Sunni Arabs still prefer a dictatorship, but the majority are eager to give democracy a chance. True democracy is one form of government the Arab world has not really tried in the last century. Monarchies and dictatorships have been the favorite forms of government, and these are now seen are part of the reason for the economic and political backwardness of the Arab world. Maybe cooperation and compromise will work. Most Iraqis are desperate enough to try. But democracy is hard work, especially in a culture where people are accustomed to shooting their opponents, not just shouting at them until agreement is reached.  There is much talk of the Good Old Days.

One things that motivated the hard core Sunni Arabs to compromise was the increasing anti-Sunni Arab violence by individual Shia Arabs (often seeking revenge for kin murdered by terrorists) and Shia Arab militia (particularly those backed by radical Shias from Iran). The Shia have been going after the Sunni Arab clerics who have been most outspoken in calling for violence. These preachers play a major role in motivating recruits for the terrorists and violent militias. 

When it has proven possible to identify the remains of a suicide bombers, it turns out that about ten percent of them have been Iraqis. Some 40-50 percent of them have been Saudis, with about another 20 percent from various neighboring Arab countries. 

American commanders in Iraq are planning on how, and when, to move U.S. troops from over a hundred current bases to four new bases built around air bases. These four mega-bases will eventually be turned over Iraq, while the hundred odd current bases would be turned over to Iraq as American troops moved out. This process will begin within the next year. The consolidation is made possible by the growing strength of the Iraqi police and armed forces. As these forces get the upper hand in Sunni Arab towns and neighborhoods, American troops no longer have to be around. Iraqi troops can still call on American air power, using the U.S. advisors assigned to Iraqi units. 

 

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