The Perfect Soldier: Special Operations, Commandos, and the Future of Us Warfare by James F. Dunnigan
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Dirty Little Secrets
Iraq, Respecting the Local Traditions
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by James Dunnigan
May 28, 2007
The Sunni Arab terrorists have lost many of their long-time refuges over the past year, but are holding on because they have nowhere to go, and face prosecution, or revenge attacks, if they surrender. The terrorists are encouraged by the reports of American politicians seeking to have U.S. troops withdrawn. Most Iraqi Sunni Arabs see that as a disaster, but the terrorists see it as an opportunity to take on the security forces without having to worry about the much more capable American forces. But with U.S. troops gone, the Iraqi security forces will be inclined to wage war the traditional way. That means massive use of firepower against civilians in any neighborhood where the Sunni Arab terrorists show up, or are found. In Syria, the 1982 uprising by Islamic radicals was put down, in part, by the destruction of the town of Hamat, and the massacre of over 10,000 civilians there. That was meant as a message to the rebels. This was the traditional way to deal with uprisings, and it worked. Leaders, and potential rebels, throughout the region remember Hamat, and the hundreds of other rebellious towns and cities that have suffered the same fate over the centuries. The Americans may not respect such local traditions, but once they leave, that will no longer be a problem.
So far this year, many more parts of central Iraq have been cleared of terrorists, and the remaining ones know they have to maintain their visibility to survive. Setting off several bombs a day keeps the terrorists in the news, even if the explosions take place in a smaller and smaller area of Iraq. The terrorists play more to the international media, than they do to anyone inside Iraq. The terrorists are already hated and feared throughout the country, even in Sunni Arab areas. There, the terrorists must increasingly divert resources to terrorize Sunni Arabs, and keep them in line. They are aided by Islamic conservatives, who see all the unrest as an opportunity to impose Taliban like rules on the population. If the terrorists accomplish nothing else, they will have shown how to manipulate the mass media, and divert attention from the true origins of the terrorists, and their objectives. It's been a masterful job which, of course, the mass media will have no interest in examining anytime soon. In a generation or so, there will be books and articles about it, but the subject will never get a lot of media attention.
Meanwhile, Sunni Arab gangs that thought themselves secure have been forced to come out and fight for survival. This is especially the case with towns in the north, where Kurds are trying to force out Sunni Arabs, in order to reverse forced migrations under Saddam, and make key cities in the northern oil producing areas, majority Kurdish again. This is an issue that has brought out lots of Sunni Arabs, armed with guns and bombs, to try and stop. This will get uglier before it is over.
The search for the three, apparently captured U.S. soldiers, continues. There have been no pictures or videos of captured soldiers showing up on the Internet, indicating that the five day American search effort has kept the captors, and their captives, on the run and unable to do something as simple as use a cell phone camera to take a propaganda photo. The kidnappers are probably fearful that the Americans are monitoring the cell phone network. American commanders openly speak of having isolated the kidnappers to a specific area south of Baghdad, where the search continues. Islamic terrorists tend to kill their captives, rather than allow them to be rescued, so the search teams know they must move carefully, but deliberately, in order to locate the captives, and get them out alive. Fewer than a dozen American troops have been captured in Iraq, an unusually low number for any type of war. This is largely because measures are taken to make capture very difficult, and the enemy has not been capable of launching many operations to capture troops.
Pro-Iranian Shia groups are having second thoughts. Several years of having a Shia majority running the country has instilled a confidence in the Shia community that has not been felt in generations. The thought of Iran pulling the strings in a Shia run Iraq was never very palatable. Iraqi Shia know that the Iranians despise Arabs, especially Iraqi Arabs. The Iranians try to hide this, but the Iraqis know, and now the thinking is "we can do this." No one will know for sure until the Americans leave, and the security forces either stay united, or fragment to join the dozens of tribal, religious and political militias.