Iraq: The Worst Government Money Can Buy

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February 14, 2008: Years of U.S. intel work are paying off, as more and more senior terrorist leaders are being identified, and found. This has caused most of the al Qaeda leader ships to flee the country, taking their cash with them. The U.S. is putting additional pressure on Syria to give up terrorists who flee in that direction. The Iraqi Sunni Arab terrorists groups, who comprise over 90 percent of the people fighting the government, and making attacks on U.S. troops, are also in big trouble. The leaders of these groups are hoping for some kind of amnesty before they get caught. Capture can be delayed for a while by bribing the local police and army units. Meanwhile, the terrorists are suffering a severe cash flow problem. The al Qaeda contributions are gone, and most of the money coming from foreigners has dried up. The Iraqi "resistance" is seen as broken, and no one wants to support a lost cause. Being on the run has made it difficult to organize the roadside bomb teams. The use of these weapons has declined so much (over 90 percent in some areas) that U.S. commanders fear their troops are starting to get sloppy, after being on the streets for weeks without encountering a single IED.

 

Meanwhile, the parliament is fighting it out over how much amnesty to give the Sunni Arab terrorists. The U.S. is pushing for more, many radical Shia groups demand a mass roundup of suspected Sunni Arab terrorists and Saddam era enforcers. While the Iraqi politicians may be corrupt, they do have to listen to their constituents, and most of these voters want Sunni Arab blood. The parliament finally passed laws meant to bring the Sunni Arabs back into the family. But the bad feelings will last generations, and will explode into murders and lurid stories (of past atrocities) in the next few years.

 

The corruption that is so characteristic of Iraq, works against the terrorists as well. Iraqi media is full of stories of former terrorists complaining of betrayal and cheating by their fellow killers. It's always been about money, and the police and army have been able to disrupt a lot of the criminal activity (theft, extortion, kidnapping) that the terror groups used to fund the terrorism. It was often difficult to determine if some guys were gangsters moonlighting as Islamic terrorists, or the other way around. The reputation for being an Islamic terrorist was useful, as it tagged you as a real badass. But in the last year, it too often tagged you as one of the usual suspects for the increasingly efficient police and army commands. Most holy warriors have decided that terrorism is too dangerous. Those that could, just became full time crooks, other went straight, and some joined over a million other Sunni Arabs and fled the country. The remaining terrorists have concentrated their attacks on Sunni Arab leaders, especially those who recently supported terrorism. Thus the suicide bombs are still killing civilians, but wealthier and more powerful ones.

 

Speaking of corruption, Russia has forgiven $12 billion in debt, for weapons and military equipment bought by Saddam, in return for the government recognizing oil field development contracts signed by Saddam in the months before he was overthrown. This gives Russian companies entry to the lucrative Persian Gulf oil business. The Russians have no qualms about bribery and paying off government officials. That makes them popular in Iraq. The corruption if often quite macabre. For example, the investigation of a recent suicide bombing, using two mentally ill girls as unknowing bombers, led to a mental hospital. The director of the hospital took bribes to allow the terrorists to go through patient records, to find women who could be used for suicide bombing attacks (women are less likely to be searched, or even suspected.)

 

There are still thousands of Sunni Arab terrorists in action, and nearly as many Shia Arab bad guys waiting for their chance to resume killing Sunni Arabs. The U.S. wants to round up as many of these guys, especially the leaders and technical experts, as possible, while the entire terrorism infrastructure is in disarray.