Iraq: Kill Them All, Please

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June 9,2008: U.S. combat deaths (19) hit an all time low last month. This is the continuation of a trend that began a year ago. Iraqi deaths (532 civilians and security forces) were also the lowest this year, but indicate that the Iraqis have taken over most of the fighting, and were suffering over 96 percent of the combat deaths. The nature of the fighting has fundamentally changed in the last year, with the Iraqi security forces finally coming into their own, after years of recruiting, training and weeding out those who were inept, unwilling or disloyal.

U.S. troops now concentrate on mentoring Iraqi combat units, and going after key terrorist operatives (leaders, financial supporters and technicians). There are at least a dozen terrorist cells still operating, and all have to be hunted down. The problem here is that there are some Iraqi Sunni Arabs with so much blood on their hands, that they will never receive amnesty (Shia and Kurd public opinion would never allow it). So they fight to the death, trying to take as many Iraqis and foreigner with them as possible. But the attacks are not random, they never were. Most of the recent suicide bomb attacks (there are only a few a week these days) are directed at the police, especially police commanders. The terrorists always saw the police as the weakest link within the security forces.

One of the big losers in the last few months has been Iran. The hundreds of millions of dollars spent on the Iraqi Shia militias evaporated quickly when the Iraqi army and police moved into militia strongholds in Baghdad and Basra. Many militia leaders were taken alive, and they talked, often of the support they received from Iran. Lots of embarrassing documents, were captured, and Iraqi officials hand carried these to Iran recently, to demand that the Iranians stop this kind of mischief. The Iranians agreed, but privately pointed out that most of the trouble was caused by extremists inside the Iranian government (mainly the Quds Force and Revolutionary Guards units). These fanatics are largely beyond control by anyone, but the Iranians apparently allowed as how these thugs would not be missed by many inside Iran, and the Iraqis should kill as many of them as possible, please. The Iranian government doesn't want to harm the growing economic relations between the two countries, and terrorism kind of does that.

In the north, the Kurds are cracking down on some of the groups that are based along the Turkish and Iranian borders, and launching attacks into those countries. The Turks threaten more bombings and artillery shelling, plus commando raids, if the Kurds don't shut down terrorists groups like the PKK. The Iranians are reluctant to be as aggressive as the Turks, for fear of provoking an American response. But Iranian troops patrol the Iraqi border aggressively, and clash with PKK fighters regularly.

June 2, 2008: Australia has declared victory in Iraq, and is withdrawing most of its troops (an infantry battalion in western Iraq). Some trainers, and security troops for the Australian embassy, will remain.

 

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