Iraq: Race, Religion, And The Kurd Problem

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August 31, 2011: In northern Iraq, the semi-autonomous Kurdish government is asking the Kurdish separatist groups (the PKK from Turkey and the PJAK from Iran) to disband. This is in response to over a month of attacks inside Iraqi territory by Iranian and Turkish land and air forces. The Iranian operations began on July 16th, and a month later, the Turks unleashed a week long air campaign against suspected PKK bases in Iraq. The Turks also used artillery, to attack over a hundred PKK targets Turkish intelligence had identified in northern Iraq. Iranian troops are still carrying out patrols just across the border in northern Iraq, seeking out PJAK members (and any hidden weapons) still in the area. Iran claims to have killed at least fifty PJAK members, while Turkey, mainly because of dozens of air strikes, claims over a hundred PKK dead. The PKK and PJAK bases in Iraq support terror attacks in Turkey and Iran, and the warm weather is when most of these attacks are carried out. Both Iran and Turkey began their attacks into Iraq after they had suffered losses on their side of the border from the Kurds fighters based in Iraq.

Iraqi Kurd officials calling on PKK and PJAK to surrender is all for show. Until the Iraqi Kurds send troops after the Kurdish separatist groups, the Kurdish leaders are simply recognizing the fact that most Iraqi Kurds support the goals of the PKK and PJAK (a separate Kurdish state, comprising Kurdish populated territory in Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria). But these four countries have no intention of surrendering territory to form “Kurdistan”. So the fighting continues. The Kurdish leaders in northern Iraq will not fight the Turks or Iranians, as that’s a fight they will lose. But they will tell the Turks and Iranians what they want to hear, and not much else. The Iraqi government is less diplomatic, simultaneously telling Iran and Turkey that they have to deal with the Kurdish government in northern Iraq, and that they are guilty of killing innocent civilians during the search for Kurdish rebels.

Over the last week nearly a dozen terror attacks left over sixty people dead, mainly the result of al Qaeda’s “hundred attacks” plan to avenge bin Laden’s death.  But the bin Laden angle is just a ploy to get cooperation from other Sunni terror groups. The Sunni terror groups are on automatic. Any hope of Sunni Arabs regaining control of the country is gone and the continued attacks simply risk a return of the Shia death squads (and their attempt to drive all Sunni Arabs out of Iraq). Iraqi intelligence is unable to cope, in part because for decades Iraqi intelligence was the exclusive domain of Sunni Arabs. Now it has been rebuilt from scratch, and has to deal with people who know how information collection works, and how to defeat those efforts. The U.S. is increasing its assistance to Iraqi intel, but there’s only so much the Americans can do.

August 30, 2011: In Baghdad, the air space around the main airport was “restricted” (very few aircraft allowed in) for about an hour because of the threat of mortar or rocket attack. U.S. forces are still in charge of security in the air, and around major airports.

August 29, 2011:  An elderly suicide bomber killed 27 in the largest Sunni mosque in Baghdad. Al Qaeda took credit, although many still suspect some Shia group. Mosques usually organize their own additional security, so this attack was disturbing as it implied that someone working for the mosque helped get the bomber inside.

August 25, 2011: On the Syrian border, Syrian troops and armored vehicles could be seen attacking Syrian demonstrators and making arrests. Iraq is backing the Syrian government in its effort to suppress pro-reform demonstrations. This is because the current dictatorship in Syria is run by the Shia minority (about 15 percent of the population) in a country with a Sunni majority. If the Sunnis gain power in Syria (either as a dictatorship or a democracy), they will likely be hostile to the Shia dominated government in Iraq.

August 19, 2011: Al Qaeda announced that it will carry out a hundred attacks to avenge the death of their leader Osama bin Laden three months ago. Apparently most of the victims will be civilians.

August 18, 2011: The U.S. revealed that it carried out two air strikes in Iraq in June, without consulting with the Iraqi government. These strikes were to deal with Iran-backed Shia terror groups planning attacks on U.S. troops. American diplomats eventually persuaded the Iraqi government to make a deal with Iran to get the Shia terrorist groups to cease their operations against American forces. All this highlights how influential Iran is in the Shia dominated government of Iraq. While most Iraqis do not want to be ruled by Iran, they do appreciate the fact that Shia have to stick together against Sunni threats. Many Sunni conservatives consider Shia heretics, who should be converted or killed. Groups like al Qaeda take this “Shia are heretics” for granted, and act on it frequently. Yet the Arab Shia majority in Iraq are still uneasy about domination by the non-Arab (Iranian and Turkish) Shia of Iran. Then there’s the ancient racism of Iranians against Arabs. Turks get some respect, because Turks have often defeated the Iranians. But the Arabs are despised despite (or perhaps because) of the one successful Arab invasion of Iran (that resulted in the conversion from Zoroastrianism to Islam.) The Kurds, who are ethnically related to the Iranians, and are not Arab, share the Iranians low opinion of the Arabs, and the Arabs reciprocate. All these hostile attitudes make for some ugly politics.

August 15, 2011: Over 70 people were killed in multiple terror attacks by Shia and Sunni terrorists.

 

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