Iraq: The Deadly Silence

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August 14, 2010: Islamic terror groups have more money, apparently from criminal enterprises, exile groups in Syria and Jordan and from Iran (where radical groups believe a civil war is needed not to put the Arab Sunni minority back in power, but to make the Shia majority angry enough to drive the Arab Sunnis out of Iraq.) The key to the continued survival of the Sunni Arab terror groups are their purely criminal operations, which provide cash, and a convenient way to control the streets and terrorize neighborhoods into providing somewhat secure base areas. Since criminal gangs often bribe officials and police, it's easier for the Sunni terrorists, acting as criminals, to use corrupt officials for carrying out attacks, as well as avoiding arrest. The biggest asset of the Sunni Arab terrorists is the hostility of the Shia dominated government and security forces. While the Sunni Arab anti-terrorist militias are still paid by the government, the daily humiliations at the hand of Shia officials and police keeps the hatreds alive. The criminal gangs, no matter who runs them, have long been a major problem in Iraq. Even during Saddam's rule, the gangs existed, and Saddam put the more powerful ones on his payroll, to maintain some control over gang activities.

The political parties remain deadlocked over forming a new government. The disputes largely have to do with who will control which ministries, and who gets access to the best opportunities for stealing oil money. Corruption is a major problem in the country, and the corrupt politicians are now so bold that they sue journalists that dare to report on the massive thefts. The lawsuits often work, if only because they imply stronger action (death squads) if the journalist does not shut up.

August 13, 2010: The PKK (Turkish Kurdish separatist rebels) announced a ceasefire, for Ramadan, until September 20th. The PKK called off their 14th month long unilateral ceasefire two months ago, but violence has been increasing over the last six months. While the PKK stage most of their operations across the border in Turkey, the Turks respond with air attacks and commando raids inside Iraq. These may slow, but not stop, during Ramadan.  

August 12, 2010: The U.S., responding to the Iraqi army leader's comment about the Iraqi armed forces not being capable of handling all security needs until 2020, said that America would insure that Iraq's security was taken care of. This was believed in reference to the threat from Iran, which has long had claims on parts of Iraq.

August 11, 2010: Lt Gen Babakir Zebari, the Chief Of Staff (senior commander) of the Iraqi armed forces pointed out at a defense conference that, despite having 430,000 police and 220,000 troops, Iraqi had a miniscule navy and air force, and not much armor and artillery. Iraq could handle internal foes, but was vulnerable to external threats. Zebari is a Kurd, and thus more likely to be outspoken. Arab officers (Sunni or Shia) are more likely to have political backers they have to defer to.

In Baghdad, an armed gang invaded the home of the a doctor who ran a maternity hospital and shot her dead. Her husband was spared. Since the 1990s, half of Iraq's doctors have fled the country. Most of the departures occurred in the last six years, and there are only about 15,000 left. The doctors have been victims of kidnapping and extortion, because they are seen as wealthy and vulnerable.

August 9, 2010: Weekend terror attacks left at least 60 dead, with about a hundred dead so far this year. That's a decline from last month, which was double the number of Junes terror victims. But the U.S. has officially questioned the accuracy of the government casualty figures for July, asserting that they were inflated nearly a hundred percent. It's unusual for the U.S. to challenge Iraqi government casualty figures. It's unknown why the Shia dominated government would exaggerate losses to terrorist attacks, unless they wanted to increase anger against the largely Sunni Arab terror groups. Many Kurdish and Shia Iraqis want to drive all the Sunni Arabs from the country. The government officially opposes that, but many government officials do not.

 

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