January 4, 2008: The hatred of Sunni
Arabs in Iraq is little diminished, despite over 70,000 Sunni Arabs joining local
militias to shut down terrorist groups throughout central Iraq. These
volunteers are now demanding jobs in the police and army, and the government
does not want to let the Sunnis in. The reason is simple; throughout the 70
year history of Iraq, the Sunni Arab minority managed to dominate the Kurds and
Shia Arabs by controlling the military and police. The Kurds and Shia don't
want to see that happen again, and don't want to come anywhere near that
happening. The U.S. is insisting that the government work with the Sunni Arabs.
But what no one wants to confront is the deep, deep hatred of the Sunni Arabs.
On the street you frequently hear popular solutions to the "Sunni Arab"
problem. These are along the lines of "kill them all," or, more charitably, "drive
them out of the country." The government knows that neither of those solutions
are realistic options. But in the meantime, there is the very real problem of
getting Kurdish and Shia Arab legislators to agree to any meaningful reconciliation
with the Sunni Arabs. The hatreds run
deep, and the recent bloodshed only made it worse.
January 1, 2008: For the first time since the U.S. invasion in
2003, Iraqis in Baghdad, and many other cities with Sunni Arabs, went out and
celebrated the new year. Terrorist violence (since last Summer) has been down
80 percent in Baghdad. In many neighborhoods, the still numerous criminal gangs
are feared more than the Islamic terrorists. But the suicide bombers are still
out there, and one hit a Baghdad funeral (for a former Sunni Arab terrorist
leader killed in an earlier bombing), killing 30 people. This sort of thing
just makes al Qaeda and the Iraqi Sunni Arab terrorists more unpopular, in this
case, among their former Sunni Arab supporters. It's the growing number of tips
from the millions of cell phone users that has made Islamic terrorists extinct
in so many parts of the country.
Meanwhile, al Qaeda has pretty much
admitted defeat in Iraq, and moved on to try their luck in Pakistan and Israel.
Last month, the U.S. killed or captured 51 al Qaeda leaders, and the terrorist
organization is having trouble finding replacements. Syria has improved its
border security in the last six months, and it's much more difficult for al
Qaeda replacements to get into Iraq. Meanwhile, the U.S. and Iraqi troops who
fought in the surge campaign of last year, are still at it. Towns and rural
districts that are still harboring Sunni Arab terrorists, are being combed and
the bad guys killed or arrested. The interrogations indicate desperation among
the al Qaeda and Sunni Arab leadership. There are few options, and even getting
out of the country is difficult. Syria and Jordan don't want any more Sunni
Arab refugees, and are trying to force the ones they have to return home.