Iraq: Islamic Gangsters Become Heroes

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October 11, 2011: Al Qaeda, and other Islamic terror groups, have largely turned into criminal gangs. They largely subsist on extortion, kidnapping and robbery. These groups still carry out suicide bombings, and other attacks on the government, but these Sunni Arab extremists have become gangsters, and heroic ones at that. The Sunni Arab community, who were once 20 percent of the population (they are now more like 15 percent) long had access to 80 percent of the oil income. Now, the Sunni Arabs get more like ten percent, and the loss of affluence and power is still felt. The Sunni Arabs fight back, and for the many young, unemployed Sunni Arab men, who once had a lock on good government jobs, this is inspiring.

An increasing number of Sunni Arab terror attacks are directed at other Sunnis, especially those who work for the government security forces. That's one job the Shia dominated government will give Sunnis, but the terrorists make it very dangerous, and many Sunni counter-terror militias learn to play both sides. This causes a lot of problems for the government, and gives the Islamic terrorists another way to hide.

The Iraqi Army is supposed to withdraw from cities at the end of the year, but the continuing terror attacks and criminal gang activity have led the government to reconsider that move. Security officials want the troops to stay.  Many Iraqis also want some American troops to stay, but Iraqi politicians insist that American troops must no longer be immune to local prosecution. The U.S. refuses to give up immunity, largely because the corruption in Iraq makes it too easy for a politician to prosecute American troops at any time and for any reason. Publicly, Iraqi politicians deny this, privately, they admit the reality of it, but insist that it's political suicide to back continued immunity.  

October 10, 2011: Over the weekend, six deminers were killed in the south, as they worked to find and remove hundreds of thousands of mines and other unexploded ordnance left over from the 1980s war with Iran. This effort is slowing down development of new oil fields down there.

October 7, 2011: Two bombs went off in a southern oil field. The fires were put out in a few hours, but a shortage of qualified personnel caused pumping from the field to be halted until more repairs could be made. The government gets most its revenue from oil income. Iraqis pay no income taxes because of this, but that makes the oil fields all the more important.

October 5, 2011: The Turkish government has extended permission for its armed forces to attack Kurdish separatists in northern Iraq. This largely consists of air attacks, but there are occasional ground operations as well.

October 4, 2011: The U.S. announced a $10 million reward for information leading to the capture (dead or alive) of Al Qaeda in Iraq leader Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim Ali al Badri. Al Qaeda in Iraq is believed responsible for nearly a hundred deaths so far this year, and a lot of that is due to the leadership of al Bardi. The U.S. has paid out over $100 million in rewards like this over the last decade.

October 3, 2011: In western Iraq, over twenty Islamic terrorists, accompanied by two suicide bombers, attacked a police station and government compound and took twenty hostages. Reinforcements arrived and killed five suicide bombers and freed the hostages. Attacks like this are intended to intimidate the government and police, and often work.

October 1, 2011:  Iraqi deaths from terrorism were down in September, compared to a year earlier, a trend that is now eight months long. Last month 110 civilians, 42 policemen and 33 soldiers were killed, which was a 23 percent decline from August. In addition to the 185 killed, another 364 were wounded. Three American troops died in Iraq last month, but two were because of accidents, while one was because of enemy action. There are still over 40,000 American troops in Iraq.

September 30, 2011: North of Baghdad, police broke up a large terrorist cell, arresting 21 suspects and seizing large quantities of weapons and bomb making materials. Three of those arrested were picked up by Kurdish police in the semi-autonomous Kurdish north. The Kurdish north has been terror free for years, and even terrorists take advantage of that to hide out in the north. This works as long as you don't get involved in terrorist activities.

In the past few months, Iranian infantry and artillery have been clearing Kurdish separatists from the border with northern Iraq. These separatists (PJAK) operated from villages in northern Iraq, and Iran went after these places with infantry and artillery. Iran claims nearly two hundred PJAK gunmen were killed. Several thousand civilians were driven from their villages (which were often destroyed by the fighting.) Iraq has protested, but that's as far as it went. The Kurds running the north do not want a civil war on their hands if they go after PJAK, so they let the Iranians deal with it, and complain when the fighting crosses the border into Iraq.

 

 

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