Iraq: Ugly Realities

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November 17, 2005: Near the Syrian border, the town of Obeidi was the scene of a fierce battle. Terrorists were trapped there, and forced to fight. Over 80 were killed in several days of fighting. At least five unexploded car bombs were seized, and bomb workshops, safe houses and weapons supplies were found as well. Meanwhile, Sunni Arab politicians are demanding that U.S. and Iraqi troops cease their attacks in western Iraq, because of the civilian casualties, the success of the operations and, while Sunni Arabs don't want to discuss it, the many revelations that terrorists are indeed based in these Sunni Arab areas. The Sunni Arabs want the army out, and promise that they will take care of the terrorist problem. While there is some truth to this, past experience has shown that the Sunni Arabs will make the best deal for themselves, not for Iraq. In other words, they will very likely allow some terrorists to remain in their territory. The Islamic terrorists are on a mission from God, and not willing to make any deals that involve stopping their operations.

Sunni Arab politicians have a hard time spinning all this in a logical way. Their European allies dispense with logic altogether, and are running with a story that white phosphorus (for 80 years used in combat for generating smoke, light and fires) has suddenly become a banned chemical weapon, thus making the U.S. guilty of chemical warfare. The main spin here is that these "chemical weapons" are being used to oppress the Iraqi Sunni Arabs. The complicity of Sunni Arabs in supporting the terrorism in Iraq is played down, and the terrorists are portrayed as patriots trying to expel the foreigners from Iraq. It's all very surreal, but the Sunni Arabs love it. Worse yet, many believe it. Meanwhile, the majority of Iraqis grow impatient with the Sunni Arab minority, and hatred for this group, which was the majority of Saddam's support, grows.

American troops got a tip that over a hundred prisoners were being abused in a secret prison in a government building. The U.S. troops raided the building and found 173 malnourished and abused Sunni Arab prisoners. The government apologized and said that something would be done, but it's no secret that Shia Arab and Kurdish police, especially elite SWAT teams and police commandoes, have been acting as death squads against former members of Saddam's security forces. Most of these thugs are still out there, and many are working for the terrorists. Some Iraqi police feel they have license to do whatever it takes to find and punish (torture and kill) Saddam's henchmen. This exacts revenge for lost kin, and weakens the terrorist movement that continues to kill Shia Arabs (and to a much lesser extent, Kurds, which have established tight security in their areas). The government cannot justify or support these unofficial police tactics. Acting like Saddam against Saddam's killers puts you on the same level as Saddam. Even the most aggrieved of Saddam's victims recognize this. But the appeal of revenge is strong, and the death squads and torture chambers will be hard to eliminate.

 

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