Iraq: Saddam, We Miss You

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March 15, 2007: Attitude does matter. With the addition of just two brigades of U.S. troops, and the equivalent of four brigades of Iraqi troops and police, the death toll from terrorist bombs is down 36 percent over the last month, and killings by death squads are down by half. Attacks against government officials (including police) are down 70 percent) Moreover, arrests of terrorists and death squad killers is up, as is the discovery of bomb factories, terrorist safe houses and death squad hideouts. In the last month, 110 roadside bombs, and 16 car bombs, were found and defused, in addition to dozens of other roadside bombs that were destroyed in place. The government is on the offensive, and the bad guys blinked.

There are more visible signs of the change in Baghdad, besides fewer bombs going off, and fewer bodies being discovered in the morning. You don't see Shia or Sunni freelancers setting up checkpoints to look for victims (of the other religious sect). There's a lot less gunfire in the city. Anyone who is not authorized to carry a weapon openly, risks arrest if they do so these days.

The bad guys are making the best of the situation, by trying to hide until the "surge" is over. That may take a while, since American commanders are talking about a lengthily operation, and the addition of three more American brigades and still being at it after the Summer. The object of the operation is not just to reduce the violence in Baghdad, but to destroy the causes. That means arresting, or killing, the leadership of the Sunni terrorist organizations (there are over a dozen of them), as well as the technicians (bomb builders, bomb deployment supervisors, suicide bomber recruiters and handlers) required to carry out the attacks. This was the method used by Israel to neutralize the Palestinian terror bombing campaign. The Iraqi terrorists know this, and are not optimistic about escaping the fate of the Palestinian terrorists. In Iraq, the bombers widely are hated, and have little support outside the Sunni Arab minority (which is now only about ten percent of the population, and not all of those are into terror any more.)

Meanwhile, the Shia and Kurd death squads are waiting for the Americans and the government to finish off the Sunni Terrorists, so that the destruction of the Sunni Arab community in Iraq can be completed. The job is only half done, and the second half will require operations in the wholly Sunni towns and villages outside Baghdad and in western Iraq. That will require a lot more effort, and some serious combat. Thus far, the death squads have mainly operated inside Baghdad, clearing Sunni Arab neighborhoods, kidnapping Sunnis or rounding them up at night and killing them. Sunni towns will be guarded, and ready for a fight. The leaders of the remaining Sunni Arabs are switching sides. It's pretty obvious that siding with the Sunni terrorist groups is suicidal, although many Sunni tribal leaders are reluctant to say that, and try to play both sides. But as the government moves more troops and police into Sunni Arab towns, the chiefs are being forced to openly declare their allegiance. This is all going to get ugly, because it's often a family feud. Everyone knows everyone else.

An increasing number of Sunni Arabs are giving up and fleeing the country. It used to be, the only ones that left were those that had money. But more and more, Sunni Arabs are just going, and arriving penniless in Syria and Jordan. The situation has become so desperate that the UN is setting up a feeding program, to prevent malnutrition and starvation among the growing number of Sunni Arab refugees. You'd think that the affluent Sunni Arabs of the region (who control most of the oil) would come to the aid of these desperate people. But for many Sunni Arabs in the region, the fact that most of the Iraqi Sunni Arabs have been chased out is too painful to confront, or even acknowledge. For over 1,200 years, Sunni Arabs have dominated Baghdad. Now that is coming to an end, and the hated Shia are taking over.

The Sunni-Shia conflict is a big deal in the Persian Gulf. For several centuries, the Turks kept the Shia Iranians under control. After the Turks retreated from the region in 1918, the Westerners contained Iran. But now the Sunni masters of Iraq have been removed from power, Iran is building nuclear weapons, and the traditional terror from the east, the Iranians, are again threatening the Arabs. With few exceptions, the Iranians have won when they moved west. It's not just Iranian soldiers that the Arabs fear, but the domination by the Iranian form of Islam, Shiism. It's no wonder so many Arabs see the liberation of Iraq from Saddam as a disaster.

 

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