Two developments are likely to lead to a marked increase in
the number of terrorist attacks over the next few weeks.
- Ramadan: the
Moslem "Lent" begins around October 4th and ends about November 2nd In the past
two years terrorist attacks increased greatly, by about 25-percent in 2003 and
nearly double that rate in 2004. The targets were most often Shia mosques and
holy places, crowded with worshipers, leading to a high casualty rate.
- Constitutional Referendum: On October 15th Iraqis will go to the polls to ratify
the new draft Constitution. Results are expected to be announced about two weeks
later. In the past, elections for the provisional government and delegates to
the Constitutional convention led to significant increases in the number of
Coalition and Iraqi forces are being beefed up for
the referendum, in an effort to insure greater security. Nevertheless, the level
of violence is likely to rise sharply over the next few weeks.
referendum has already led to some interesting political developments. Sunni
clergy are urging their followers to turn out in great numbers, in order to
deliver a resounding "No" vote on the new charter. In contrast, most Shia clergy
are urging their followers to vote "Yes," though dissident cleric Moqtada
al-Sadr has instructed his followers to be prepared to vote, while reserving a
decision on whether they should support or oppose the constitution until the
last minute, apparently in an attempt to gain some political
Over the past year, Sadr has "reformed" himself somewhat,
trying to project a more moderate image, which includes reaching out to some
Sunni leaders, urging less violent resistance to the "occupation," and even
changing his mode of dress somewhat. However, Sadr is also suspected of being in
contact with anti-government Sunni Arab groups. Twice, Sadr has ordered his
gunmen to attack Americans, and twice his gunmen have been crushed. But the last
time, it was found that Sunni Arab terrorist groups had come to the assistance
of Sadr's men. For this reason, Sadr is seen as a man more concerned with
personal ambition, than what is best for his Shia Arab followers.
town of Tal Afar, after five days of fighting, terrorists were pursued through
the streets by Iraqi police commandoes. Several terrorist gangs were trapped in
Tal Afar, which is on the Syrian border. The terrorists stood and fought, but
that led to some 500 of them getting killed or captured by American troops. Now,
Iraqi police are going house-to-house to find those who have tried to escape by
pretending to be unarmed civilians.
Despite all the fighting along the
Syrian border, American casualties in the last two weeks have been half of what
they've been the last few months. The number of terrorist attacks is way down,
and more of the combat operations are being conducted by Iraqi troops.