Iraq: This Is The End

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April 6, 2011:  While the terrorist violence is still down 90 percent from its 2007 peaks, there has not been much additional reduction. Each month, 200-300 people die from terrorist activity. Most of this mayhem is from Sunni Arab nationalists (both secular and religious), who are determined to return Sunni Arabs to power, or die trying. So the dying will continue until these fanatics are all dead. This could take years. It's mainly a generational thing. The few older terrorists left have access to enough money, and younger sons and nephews (who tend to be uneducated and unemployed) that they can get bombs made and placed. Suicide bombers are harder to come by, which is the main reason there are fewer attacks. There is also less and less cash for this stuff. Corrupt terrorist leaders stole a lot of that money (part of the billions Saddam and his cronies stole from Iraq's oil revenue over the years) and there's simply been less and less of it each year.  What there has been more and more of each year are trials, convictions and executions of senior terrorist leaders. There are also more incidents of terrorist leaders being found, refusing to surrender, and dying in the ensuing gun battle. All this sends a message, that this is the end. According to police interrogations, this had been bad for terrorist morale.

The key problem in Iraq, corruption, is getting more attention, but not a lot of movement on actually curbing the stealing, and selling of government decisions. As unpopular as this is, there is not enough anti-corruption sentiment to trigger large scale demonstrations. Most Iraqis believe that, because they have elections, that have been able to vote unpopular politicians out of office, there might be an alternative to another revolution. But that is in doubt, because those responsible for the corruption are, together, a powerful group that tends to stick together. Nations that have suppressed corruption (not completely, that never happens, but reduced it a lot) have had to take down some very prominent and powerful people.

Corruption kills, often in a very direct fashion. In Iraq, this takes many forms. Security personnel taking bribes to let terrorist bombers into a target area is an obvious one. Less obvious is the corruption in the mine clearing effort. About a quarter of the uncleared mines on the planet are in Iraq. This is the result of nearly half a century of Baath Party rule. Mines were widely used against Kurdish rebels, and then in the 1980s war with Iran. Throughout this period, few mines were cleared (removed). That did not get going on a large scale until the last few years. Lots of money is appropriated for mine clearing, and lots of it is being stolen. While most Iraqi minefields are known, and clearly marked, there are still casualties, and will continue to be until the mines are unearthed and destroyed.

April 1, 2011:  Terror attacks killed 247 Iraqis last month (55 percent civilians, 45 percent security personnel). This was up 25 percent from February, mainly because the March 29 attack in Tikrit, which accounted for nearly a quarter of the March deaths.

March 29, 2011:  Five gunmen, many carrying suicide bomb vests, invaded a government compound in Tikrit (Saddam's home town) and five hours of violence left about 65 dead and a hundred wounded. The attack began with the detonation of a car bomb. This was another example of poor security, which in the past has often been the result of corruption (someone took bribes for information or access.) A Sunni Arab terror group (The Islamic State of Iraq) later took credit for the attack.

 

 

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