Moqtada al Sadr appears to have fled back to Iran once more, apparently in
reaction to increased military pressure on his armed followers. The U.S. knows
who al Sadr's key military lieutenants are, and these guys are being arrested,
or killed while trying to avoid capture. When American and Iraqi forces raid
Sadr's people, they often find Iranians (who claim to be religious pilgrims).
There are 2,760 foreigners in Iraqi jails, including 800 Iranians. Most of the
rest are Arabs. Iraq would like some cooperation from the countries these
people, most of them terrorism suspects, came from. The Iranians deny any
involvement, despite incriminating documents and the confessions of some of
their agents. Iraqis are getting tired of Iranian involvement, especially after
Iran sponsors the assassination of popular Iraqi Shia politicians, as recently
happened with the anti-Iranian governor
of Qadisiya province. Sunni Arab politicians are openly pleading with
neighboring Sunni nations to rescue Iraqi Sunnis from Iranian-backed attacks.
These pleas have been made before, and are largely ignored now. No one wants to
back a loser, especially a loser that kills Moslem women and children.
Some Arab nations, however,
are willing to cooperate with the Iraqi government. Syria is overrun with a
million (and counting) Iraqi Sunni Arabs fleeing retribution for supporting of
all those terror attacks over the past few years. Since Syria is a Sunni Arab
country run by a Shia Arab minority, this influx of angry, and pro-terror,
Iraqi Sunnis is an uncomfortable trend. Saudi Arabia won't let many Iraqi
Sunnis in, and is quietly letting thousands of its own young Islamic fanatics
travel to Iraq (via Syria) to get killed. Iraq is threatening Syria and Saudi
Arabia with payback if these two countries don't clean up their act.
Politics inside Iraq isn't in
very good shape either. Many Sunni and Shia political parties want American
troops gone ASAP, so that a "final battle" between the Sunni and Shia can be
fought. The Sunni Arab extremists still believe they can win, even though
outnumbered ten to one. The Sunni Arabs sustain themselves with little
victories. Blowing up bridges is a big morale booster of late, as are attacks
on electrical transmission systems. Another nasty bit of morale boosting
involves a murderous campaign against an Islamic sect, the Yazidi, who are
Kurds and live near the Syrian border up north. There has been tension with
Sunni Arabs for months, and this week, four car bombs killed 175 Yazidi and
wounded over 200. Many Moslems, and some Christians, consider the Yazidi
heretics and devil worshipers. The Sunni Arab violence since 2003 has exploited
religious tensions, emphasizing the Sunni strain of Islam as the only true
faith, and calling for death to those who are not down with that. This had made Sunni Arabs even less popular
than they were before 2003.
More practical minded Iraqis
demonstrated competence and discipline this week when the army and police
organized security for over three million religious pilgrims marching through
Baghdad. No major incidents, and it was an entirely Iraqi operation. U.S.
troops, who provided (unneeded) backup, were impressed. North of Baghdad,
16,000 American and Iraqi troops began another major operation to kill or
capture Sunni and Shia terrorists. These operations are propelled by a massive
intelligence effort, which constantly feeds the troops new data on who the bad
guys are, and where they were last reported. Information on people killed or
captured is quickly transmitted to intel troops, who update the picture of the
enemy, and send the update to the troops. Captured terrorists often find the
Americans better informed about the captives group, than the terrorist himself.