Iraq: The Sentence Is Death

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September 21, 2012: The government accuses Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Sunni states of stirring up sectarian violence in Syria (and elsewhere, like Bahrain) by supplying weapons and other support to Sunnis (rebels in Syria, the minority government in Bahrain). These accusations are for the benefit of neighboring Iran, which has been pushing itself as the true leader of the Moslem world. That is a fantasy because most Moslems are Sunni and Sunni conservatives and radicals consider Shia heretics and thus ineligible to lead anything. Sunni Islamic radicals, like al Qaeda, believe Shia should be killed if they do not convert to Sunni Islam. These attitudes have always caused nasty problems in Iraq.

The U.S. is having no success pressuring Iraq to halt the flow of Iranian cargo aircraft that almost daily carry troops and weapons to Syria. Despite American intelligence (from inside Iraq and Syria and over Iran) Iraq just denies the U.S. accusations and does nothing to stop the Iranian flights. The U.S. has threatened to halt aid to Iraq but this has not gone beyond the threat stage. The U.S. has recently put sanctions on 117 Iranian transport aircraft, including two 747s that carry most of the cargo to Syria. Iran ignores this sort of thing and keeps its aircraft away from places where they might be seized. The U.S. also accuses Iraq of allowing Iranian truck traffic, which helps supply and reinforce the remaining troops in eastern Syria. Sunni rebels have taken control of most of eastern Syria, which has always been largely Sunni.

September 20, 2012: The provincial government of Najaf has banned the national airline of Bahrain. This is all about the war between Sunni and Shia. Najaf is largely Shia and contains many Shia shrines. Bahrain is a small island nation to the south where a Sunni minority rules a majority Shia population. The Shia have been demonstrating, unsuccessfully, over the last two years for a democracy. That would replace the Sunni monarchy and put the Shia in charge. The Sunnis have managed to suppress the Shia uprising so far, despite covert help from Iran and because of open support of the government by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Sunni states.

September 17, 2012:  The main border crossing with Syria (at Al Qaim) was reopened after being closed for nearly a month. However, unmarried men under fifty will not be allowed in (as these may be Sunni Islamic terrorists). The crossing was closed to keep out the thousands of Syrian Sunnis seeking escape from the random attacks (especially artillery and warplanes) of the Syrian military. Sunni rebels and Syrian troops have been battling for control of border crossings for months, with the rebels steadily winning. Iraq reopened the crossing as a peace offering to angry Iraqi Sunnis.

Near an entrance to the Green (high security) Zone in Baghdad a suicide car bomber killed seven and wounded eleven (including a member of parliament).

September 13, 2012: The government has agreed to resume sending the northern Kurdish provinces their share of the national oil income and the Kurds will not increase their oil shipments to Turkey. This is a compromise, which slows down the Kurd effort to create an oil production business separate from the one controlled by the Iraqi government.

In an effort to force Turkey to turn over fugitive Iraqi politician Tariq al Hashimi, Iraq has halted new Turkish businesses from being established in Iraq. When the Turkish government protested, the Iraqis said it wasn't really about Hashimi, but administrative problems.

September 9, 2012: A court in Baghdad sentenced Sunni Arab vice president Tariq al Hashimi to death for organizing over 100 terror attacks from 2005 to 2011. The Hashimi trial appeared to be more for show than an effort to determine true guilt or innocence. Last December Hashimi was first accused of running a death squad and other terrorist activities. In response, Hashimi fled the country while 73 of his employees and followers were arrested. Many confessed that their group committed 150 assassinations and bomb attacks over the last three years. Since then Hashimi has received asylum in Turkey, which is, for the moment, ignoring an Interpol arrest warrant. This has caused anti-Turk demonstrations in Iraq but not in the Kurdish north, where a lot of the investments in new businesses have come from Turkey. The Turks and their money are welcome in the Kurdish north.

The Iraqi Sunnis have always been a minority (about 15 percent) in what is now (since the 1930s) Iraq. This Sunni minority has (except for short periods when Iranian troops occupied the region) ruled this area for centuries. The Sunnis lost control in 2003, when the Americans and British invaded. A democracy (which Sunni radicals consider un-Islamic) was established and the Shia majority took over for the first time in centuries. Many Sunnis believe it's only a matter of time before they regain control from the Shia majority (which most Sunnis despise) because that is the natural order of things. On a more practical level, the Sunnis miss having control of the oil income, most of which went to the Sunni minority. Since 2003, that has no longer been the case and the Sunnis are very angry about that, angry enough to support continued terrorism against the hated Shia majority. While Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states publically deplore this violence, the Iraqi Shia suspect that the Sunni foreigners are secretly supporting it. That is often true but unofficially by not cracking down on private citizens who support the Iraqi Sunni terrorists. Since 2003, thousands of Saudis have been killed or imprisoned in Iraq because of participation in terrorism against Iraqi Shia (or Sunnis who oppose terrorism). The Shia government could move more energetically against Sunni areas where terrorists operate from but it is feared this might trigger war with Sunni neighbors (especially Saudi Arabia and Turkey). So the government suffers the violence and tries to hunt down the terror groups as best it can. After all, the deaths from Sunni terrorism have declined over 90 percent since their peak five years ago. But that's still over a hundred dead a month.

In response to Hashimis death sentence, Islamic terror groups launched attacks in 13 towns and cities (mainly against Shia targets) that left 92 dead and 350 wounded.

September 8, 2012: Someone in Syria fired four rockets into the Iraqi border town of Al Qaim, killing a child. Fighting has been going on just across the border in Syria between troops and rebels.

September 7, 2012: Last month some 5,000 people died in Syria's civil war, which was greater than were killed in the Iraqi violence in 2006. This makes the Iraqi government very nervous because they consider the Sunni Arabs particularly bloody minded. They have ample of this inside Iraq, both before and after the Sunnis were deposed in 2003. The Iraqi Shia fear that a Sunni victory in the Syrian civil war will result in the new Sunni dominated government providing sanctuary for Iraqi Sunni terrorists. Such sanctuary was provided by the Shia minority government in Syria from 2003 on, because the Assad government there believed this would prevent the Sunni majority in Syria from rebelling. That worked for a while until two years ago, when it didn't.

 

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