Iraq: Delusions to Die For

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January 6, 2006: The Sunni Arab community is dividing, with a minority backing terrorism, while the majority joins the new government, or tries to. The Sunni Arab terrorists are themselves a coalition, including people who hold the following beliefs;

@ Sunni Arabs are the majority of Iraqis. There hasn't been a census for decades, but the best estimates put the population at about 59 percent Shia Arab, 19 percent, 19 percent Kurd and a few percent other minorities (Turks, Chaldean Christians, and so on). The December 15th parliamentary elections ended up with people being elected in that proportion. Many Sunni Arabs, after they got over the shock of those results, accepted the fact that they are indeed a minority. But some Sunni Arabs refuse to accept this reality, and are willing to fight on.

@ Let's start a Civil War. Al Qaeda has long held that if they could trigger a civil war between Shia and Sunni Arabs, the Islamic terrorists could maneuver a takeover. The chief means of igniting this civil war is a campaign of terror attacks on Shia Arabs. A good example of this is the series attacks this week. In two days of suicide bombings, nearly 200 (mostly civilians) were killed, and many more wounded. Nearly all the victims were Shia Arab civilians. In one case, the funeral of a Shia government officials nephew, himself the victim of terrorist violence, was attacked. The pictures of dead women and children were all over the news for days. If a civil war were started, the Sunni Arabs would be the big losers, and the majority of Sunni Arab politicians are desperate to maintain good relations with the majority Kurds and Shia Arabs in order to avoid this fate.

@ God's Kingdom. There have long been Sunni Arab Islamic conservatives in Iraq. After the 1991 war, Saddam adopted this group and showered them with money and favors. Perhaps a third of Sunni Arabs still support this vision of Iraq's future, an Islamic republic, ruled by Islamic scholars and preachers. This is the group that is most supportive of al Qaeda, and least willing to make any deals with secular Iraqi politicians. About a third of the Shia Arabs are also in favor of a religious government, but one led by Shia clerics. The Sunni Arab Islamic conservatives see this as an Iraq led by heretics, and the worst possible thing that could happen. The religious conservatives have been a constant in this part of the world for thousands of years, and won't go away.

@ Misery Breeds Surrender. Many Sunni Arabs believe that attacks on economic targets will make people so miserable that they will back the rebels (be they secular Sunni Arabs, or Islamic radicals). Currently, there is a campaign being waged against the largest oil refinery in the country. The terrorists have threatened to kill any fuel truck driver who reports to work. That shut down fuel deliveries last month. The government sent in the army to escort the fuel trucks. The armed convoys were attacked and halted. Now the army is disgraced as well. But no one is thinking of surrender. Iraqis still line up to join the army or police force, despite the threat of a suicide bomber coming by. The terrorists are losing support over these tactics, but the economic targets are so many, and so vulnerable, that the attacks continue. Despite that, the economy continues to grow.

@ Terrorize the Majority Into Obedience. Recently, the sister of the Shia Interior Minister was kidnapped by terrorists. The victims brother was kidnapped three months ago, then released. It's not known if the kidnappers are terrorists or criminals looking for a ransom. Even the terrorists will kidnap for ransom, and not just a long list of political demands. But attacking the family of the Interior Minister is done to make people believe that no one is safe. People in Iraq already believe that. After three decades of Saddam, and then the last three years of terrorists and gangsters, no one believes they are safe. But few Iraqis are ready to surrender to the terrorists either.

@ Defeat the Foreigners. Going after the American troops, and others of the coalition, is still a popular idea with some terrorists and Sunni Arab groups. But this has proved so ineffective that it has largely been replaced by attacks on government officials and civilians. Most American casualties are incurred when terrorist hideouts are attacked. The terrorists are losing about ten men for each American they kill, and this is having an adverse impact on terrorist morale.

If all this seems a bit mad, well, it is. Even to many Iraqis, the situations appears chaotic and hopeless. But the majority of Iraqis don't live in the middle of all this insanity. Central Iraq, in areas where there are Sunni Arabs, is the scene of nearly all the bloodshed. What to do about the Sunni Arab terrorists? Most Iraqis just want them gone. With each new attack, with each new picture of dead children, the violence against Sunni Arabs suspected of terrorist activity, continues. This is how the war will go until the terrorist attacks are a minor problem, and not the daily headline news.

 

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