Iraq: Make My Day

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March 7, 2008: The war has shifted from Baghdad, north to Mosul, the third largest city. For centuries, this was the capital of the largely Kurdish Mosul province, Saddam applied over a decade of ethnic cleansing to the city, to make it more Arab than Kurdish. The Sunni Arab terrorists that made it to Mosul, after being driven out of Baghdad and Anbar (western Iraq), are hard core survivors. The Sunni Arabs already in Mosul are determined to make a last stand. The Sunni Arabs of Mosul are a tough bunch, largely because the Kurds are more lethal than the Shia Arab militias in the south. The Kurdish troops and police welcome the U.S. reinforcements, and are now working down a long list of the usual suspects. Sunni Arabs have turned some Mosul neighborhoods into fortresses, which the Iraqi police, whether they be Shia, Sunni or Kurd, stayed out of. No more. The American reinforcements make it possible for Iraqi police and commandos to get in there and capture or kill the most dangerous of the terrorists. So far this year, about two dozen known al Qaeda terrorists a week are being captured or killed Mosul.

Down in Baghdad, the effort has shifted to the Shia Arab militias, at least the ones that are still attacking U.S. troops, or preparing to. This last category includes Iranian trainers and bomb specialists. The Americans are offering cash for information on these guys, and in poor Shia neighborhoods, that is getting results.

Throughout Iraq, there is still tension between Sunni Arabs and the Kurdish/Shia majority (85 percent). While most Sunni Arabs are actively fighting terrorism, or at least making a show of doing so, there are still enough Sunni terrorists to kill 20 or more police and civilians a day. The majority still see total elimination (expulsion or massacre) of the Sunni Arabs as the only way to deal with the terrorism. There are still Shia Arab terror groups, but they have largely gone dormant (until the Americans leave, or so they say), or concentrated on killing Sunni Arabs. These groups account for about ten percent of the deaths. The Kurdish terrorists are an even smaller group, allied with al Qaeda. The survivors of this group operate, not very effectively, from both sides of the Iranian border. Meanwhile, those Sunni Arab tribal groups that have switched sides are demanding more goodies, or they might revert to their old ways. American and Iraqi commanders respond with something along the lines of; "make my day."

The U.S. is putting more pressure on Syria, putting an increasing number of prominent Syrians on a sanctions list. This limits their overseas travel and business activities. While these can be gotten around, just naming these guys lets the Syrian government know that the Americans have a list of key people, and what they do.

March 1, 2008: Turkish troops pulled out of northern Iraq, saying they had accomplished their objectives. The Kurdish PKK declared, largely for propaganda purposes, a victory over the Turks. The message is that there will be another such invasion if the Kurdish government in northern Iraq does not shut down open PKK activity up there.

 

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