Iraq: Fantasies and Competence Coexist

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August 15, 2007: Shia warlord 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.

 

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