Nearly 14,000 Iraqis were killed by criminal or political violence in
2006. The violence is not quite a war, but it is very violent, especially when
you consider that nearly all of it is taking place in only a third of the
country. While the Iraqi dead amount to about twelve times the murder
rate in the United States, it's about two thirds the death rate in the United
States during a year (1944) in World War II. The fighting is more and more
Iraqis versus Iraqis, with some 95 percent of the dead in 2005 being Iraqi.
While the media highlights those days when there were a hundred terrorist
deaths, that was not the norm. On average, about 36 people a day died. But a
day with no terrorist deaths is not considered news, and is rarely reported.
Some 11 percent of the Iraqi deaths were security forces. That's 1,543 dead,
compared to 832 American. No one is sure, but perhaps a third of the civilian
deaths were terrorists, or those involved in supporting the terrorism. In 2006,
most of the dead were Sunni Arabs (civilians and terrorists). The UN claims
that twice as many Iraqis died, but that number is widely seen as motivated
more by politics (the UN opposed the overthrow of Saddam, who bribed many UN
officials) than a desire for accurate statistics.
30, 2006: Saddam Hussein was executed by hanging. Sunni Arab groups said they
would make attacks on the United States in retaliation. But Saddam's death is
another sign that Sunni Arab power, and presence, in Iraq is rapidly
disappearing. Sunni Arabs in Iraq are long on talk, but short on performance.
Sunni Arab terrorists are out of control, and that puts moderate Sunni
Arabs in great danger. The Sunni Arab community still accounts for a majority
of the trained professionals in the country, and the largest pool of
experienced managerial talent. The elected leadership knows how much the loss
of the Sunni Arab community will hurt the economy, not to mention the military
and other government institutions. But several Shia politicians, particularly,
Moqtada al Sadr, have made the expulsion of the Sunni Arabs a political goal.
It's a very popular goal with the majority of Kurds and Shia Arabs, and these
are over 80 percent of the population. Sadrs gunmen are now forcing Sunni Arabs
out of mixed neighborhoods in Baghdad, and making plans to assault all-Sunni
neighborhoods (which are well protected by armed locals). The sectarian
violence is going to get worse, as the diehard, we-won't-leave Sunni Arabs
battle the Shia militia. The government does not really have a plan for coping
with this, but definitely wants to curb the power of the Shia militias.
28, 2006: Without much fanfare, much less a press release, the government and
Coalition troops have gone to war with Moqtada al Sadrs Mahhi Army militia.
Leaders are being arrested or killed. The raids are being carried out with
overwhelming speed and force, so that pro-Sadr gunmen have little chance to put
up effective resistance. Some of the raids are in support of an effort to
find five civilian security contractors (four Americans and an Austrian), who
are held by a Shia militia for ransom, or political purposes. No one is sure,
and that apparently includes the kidnappers. The five men were seized six weeks
American commanders are urging that several additional brigades of U.S. combat
troops be brought in for a few months, to back the Iraqi security forces, as
the Shia militias are taken down. The most dangerous part of this plan is now,
with the well armed and motivated militias still intact. But once the
organizations are broken, and arms, records and leaders seized, the problem
will be largely a police, not military one.