January 12, 2012: Despite all the high profile (to attract the attention of local and foreign media) terror attacks in the last few months, 2011 terrorism related deaths were down 27 percent from 2010. This was a continuation of the decline from the 2007 peak of 18,000 deaths. Last month had the lowest death toll (155) since 2003. While the Sunni Arab terror groups are being beaten, as long as they can still carry out their attacks, which mainly kill civilians, the entire Sunni Arab community will keep feeling the hate. In response, some Sunni Arab politicians are demanding an autonomous Sunni Arab state, extending from Baghdad (parts of which are still exclusively Sunni) north to Kurdish territory and west to the Jordanian border. Unfortunately, this idea has little support in the Sunni community because this autonomous Sunni Arab area has almost no oil. At the same time, the Kurds are allowing foreign firms to develop oil fields in areas the Kurds have controlled for two decades. This annoys the Shia dominated Iraq government but there is no enthusiasm for invading the Kurdish north. The Shia can take comfort in the fact that they still control most Iraqi oil. It's the oil, and billions in oil revenue, which occupies the attention of most Iraqis. Given the continued (since Saddam's rule) corruption and inept government, Iraqis have more to be upset about than a few terrorist bombings. If the corruption could be reduced, wiping out the terrorists would happen a lot more quickly.
And then there is the popular rebellion next door in Syria. There is not much sympathy for Syrians, who prospered by hosting Iraqi exiles after 2003 and tolerated these exiles shipping cash, weapons, and terrorists into Iraq. For the moment, the Iraqis are keeping Iranian meddling to a minimum by supporting the pro-Iran dictatorship in Syria. The Iraqis are not particularly enthusiastic about this support but it is enough to keep Iran from messing with Iraqi politics.
January 11, 2012: A gun battle erupted outside the compound of the Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Kirkuk. Two attackers were killed and one wounded and captured. Five policemen were wounded. It's unclear if the archbishop (who was not harmed) was the target of the attack, or if the target was a member of parliament who lived nearby.
To the south, other Sunni terrorist violence left five policemen and a town major dead.
In Iran, yet another scientist working on nuclear weapons was killed. Apparently, Israeli Mossad (their CIA) agents have been recruiting Iranian Kurds, who have fled to northern (Kurdish controlled) Iraq and formed an intelligence and assassination network in Iran. Israel has long been an ally of the Iranian Kurds who shared a hatred of Saddam Hussein. Because of that support (which has included military equipment and advisors), Israel has been given a lot of latitude in setting up espionage operations, especially against Iran. Kurds have long had a hostile relationship with Iran and supporting Mossad terror attacks inside Iran will, for the Kurds, not make things much worse.
In the last few days a series of terror attacks against Iraqi and visiting Iranian Shia left about a hundred dead and several hundred wounded. These attacks are the work of Sunni Arab terrorist organization. Some are doing it for religious reasons (like al Qaeda), while others are simply trying to create chaos which, it is believed, would enable the Sunni Arabs to seize control of the government again. But this time the Shia are fully aware of how the Sunni Arabs have used various terrorist and political techniques to rule the Shia majority and are determined to see that this does not happen again. Meanwhile, more mainstream Sunni politicians are demanding more money and power. But the Shia majority is refusing to share until the Sunni community does more to halt the Sunni Arab terrorism. The Iraqi Kurds are siding with the Sunni Arabs, if only to limit the influence of Iran. But the continued Sunni Arab terror attacks have increased general distrust of Sunni Arabs, and there is again pressure on Sunni Arabs to leave mixed (with Shia, Kurds, and others) neighborhoods.
January 6, 2012: One of the largest remaining pro-Iran Shia militias (Asaib Ahl al-Haq) is accepting amnesty and disarming. This group also made many attacks against American troops. The group will now become a political party.
January 3, 2012: Police arrested 21 Sunni terrorism suspects believed to be involved in several recent bombing attacks.