November 15, 2012: Terrorism related deaths were down sharply in October, to 144. September was the most deadly, in terms of terrorist violence, in two years, with 365 killed (182 civilians and terrorists, 88 police, and 95 soldiers). This was more than twice the number of deaths in August (164). Deaths were 326 in July and 282 in June. The sharp decline in October was due to several factors. First, the increased terrorist activity has resulted in a lot of police action and the terrorist groups have suffered heavy losses. The Sunni terrorist groups could not sustain the level of violence they began in January (when 225 died). Second, pressure from the government (in reaction to public anger) produced more tips from citizens, more neighborhood self-defense groups, and more effective performance by the police. Third, some Sunni Islamic terrorists have gone to fight in Syria, where the Sunni majority is rebelling against the Shia minority dictatorship.
Iraq may be a democracy but it is still a nation of tribes and clans. Thousands of years of tyranny have left people dependent on tribal and clan organizations for basic justice (marriage contracts, carrying out wills, and handling business disputes). For several centuries before 1918, it was the Turks who had to deal with the tribal politics. Until the end of World War II it was the British (because most of the tribes favored the Nazis) and after that (until 2003) a string of Sunni Arab strongmen negotiated with, bullied, and tried to get along with the tribes. Now the Shia/Kurd dominated government has to cope with over a hundred Sunni tribal and clan organizations, many of them spanning borders with Syria, Jordan, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. Although a minority, many Sunnis still believe they should be running Iraq and are angry over the lack of respect (and cash) they get from their Shia rulers.
While Sunni Islamic terrorists continue to weaken, that’s partly because many have gone to fight in Syria. The rebellion (against a Shia minority dictatorship) in Syria is particularly worrisome because the Islamic terror groups expect the rebels to provide sanctuary for Islamic terrorists once victory is achieved. That may not happen, if only because many Islamic terrorist fighters want to control Syria after the revolution. Whatever happens, there will be a lot of Islamic terrorists in Syria for the next year or so, and possibly longer.
While the Iraqi government is under pressure from Iran to support the Assad dictatorship in Syria, many Iraqi Shia officials are pressing for making nice to the Syrian rebels (who are mostly Sunnis), especially those who are hostile to the idea of Islamic terror groups getting any power in a post-Assad Syria. It’s difficult to deal with the Sunni tribes because so many of the tribesmen have fresh memories of prospering under Sunni (Saddam Hussein’s) rule, when most of the oil money went to the Sunni minority (20 percent of the population). Since Saddam was overthrown, the Sunni Arab community has been plunged into poverty. That, and Islamic terror groups with cash to spread around, maintains some support for the Islamic terrorists among Iraqi Sunni Arabs. With sanctuary in Syria, the Sunni terrorists would have even more ability to carry out attacks in Iraq. With Iran out of Syria (after the Assads are gone), Iraq will have an easier time resisting Iranian pressure to support Iranian goals (global domination, or at least replacing the Sunni Saudis as leaders of the Islamic world).
Although Iraq has increased its oil production, it is having trouble selling the stuff. The usual customers are reluctant to sign contracts (to deliver fixed amounts of oil at a fixed price for months or a year) with Iraq because the Iraqis have been cheating. Iraq often ships lower quality oil and demands higher prices than other oil producers are asking for. In other words, the Iraqis can’t be trusted. Buyers are insisting on much lower prices and Iraq will have to take it.
November 14, 2012: Islamic terrorists carried out 13 attacks across the country, killing 19 and wounding over 150 to commemorate the Islamic New Year.
November 10, 2012: Prime minister Maliki cancelled a recent $4.2 billion arms purchase deal with Russia. This was caused by accusations that the deal included hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes for the politicians and officials who negotiated the contracts. The Russians are known to be compliant when it comes to including bribes in export sales. Western countries have laws against such things but the Russians consider it just another cost of doing business. The Russians blamed the Americans and Iraqi politicians blamed each other for the cancellation of the deal.
November 9, 2012: Over the last week Turkish air and ground forces have attacked PKK (Turkish Kurd separatist) camps in northern Iraq. Turkish ground forces penetrated at least five kilometers into Iraq. This is the first such ground incursion in four years. At least 42 PKK have been killed, along with one Turkish soldier. The Turks are seeking out PKK supplies and information (prisoners and documents) that will reveal more about PKK capabilities and plans. Iraq and the Kurdish government of northern Iraq protested this incursion but tolerate it, just as they tolerate the presence of PKK in the first place.
November 6, 2012: A suicide car bomb went off north of Baghdad, killing 27 soldiers.
November 5, 2012: A car bomb went off in a Shia neighborhood of Baghdad killing three people.
November 3, 2012: North of Baghdad Islamic terrorists killed three soldiers at a checkpoint.
November 2, 2012: The police commander in charge of a prison north of Baghdad was arrested and charged with taking bribes to aid a September prison escape that saw nearly fifty al Qaeda men get out.
November 1, 2012: In defiance of the federal government, the autonomous (since the early 1990s) Kurdish government of northern Iraq has begun shipping oil. About a third of Iraqi oil reserves are in the Kurdish north.
October 28, 2012: Islamic terrorist took credit for a number of attacks carried out to commemorate Eid, a major Moslem holiday. At least fifty were killed.