Iraq: Where Did All The Sunni Arabs Go?


March 7, 2007: Having lost many of their bomb factories (where care bombs were assembled) and safe houses (where suicide bombers were trained and indoctrinated) in Baghdad, Sunni terrorists are rushing in teams from the suburbs to try and make enough mess to force the Shia militia to come out and fight. The Shia militia saw that the American surge campaign in Baghdad would be directed mostly at the Sunni terrorists. Thus the Shia militiamen simply put their weapons away and took off their black uniforms for a while, and let the Americans do their thing. The Iraqi police, controlled by Shia politicians, and largely staffed by Shia, was believed sufficient to guard key Shia targets (religious shrines and headquarters for Shia militia and politicians).

Despite the continued terror bombings, most Sunnis don't believe the Shia militia would be dumb enough to come out now and draw the Americans away from their campaign against Sunni terrorists. Thus the Sunni Arabs of Iraq believe they are doomed. Officially, the government is willing to make peace with the Sunni Arab community, if they will quiet down and just become, well, a harmless minority. But too many Sunni Arabs would rather die than give up hope of regaining control of the country they have run for centuries. So the terrorism continues.

Hope is about all the Sunni Arabs have left. Nearly half of them have fled the country, and most have fled their homes. Many are living as refugees within Iraq. Entire Sunni neighborhoods of Baghdad have been "cleansed" of Sunni Arabs. When Sunni Arabs were twenty percent of the population, as they were in 2004, they still had a reasonable chance of eventually using their superior wealth, experience and educations, to regain control of the government, or at least key parts of it. The Sunni Arab terrorist groups have made that impossible. The Sunni Arabs are being erased from Iraq. Sunni and Shia have fought over "Mesopotamia" (central Iraq) for centuries, and now it looks like the Shia are going to keep control for some time to come.

The Americans would have preferred that everyone got along, and most Arabs and Europeans would have preferred that the Sunnis remained in charge (to keep the Iranians in their cage). People tend to fear and abhor change, and the changes in Iraq are a good example of that. The Gulf Arabs see a Shia Iraq as a stepping stone for Iranian domination. The Turks see Iraqi Kurds as far more troublesome now, without a Sunni dictator to keep them in line. Middle Eastern rulers in general see an Iraqi democracy as a sham, just a righteous veil behind which Shia politicians steal the money and kill their enemies with the same enthusiasm as Saddam and his Sunni henchmen. And if the Iraqi democracy does succeed, it becomes a real troublemaker in a region run mostly by dictators and aristocrats.

On the plus side, Iraq has become a magnet for Sunni terrorists, and the graveyard for most of them. The carnage in Iraq is mostly Moslems killing Moslems, which has caused al Qaeda to go from the most popular Islamic radicals (on September 11, 2001), to the most reviled. That's what the opinion polls say, and growing number of terrorist arrests in the region can't be counted as any kind of terrorist victory.

Meanwhile, the Americans argue among themselves over whether the effort in Iraq is a great good, or a great evil. For the Sunni Arabs, it is definitely bad. Terrorist activity is trending down, and Sunni strongholds continue to fall. The tribal warfare in western Iraq, where terrorist backed tribes battle American backed ones, is a bloody battle that gets little media attention. But the terrorists are losing here as well. Week by week, the dozens of indicators maintained by American intelligence show the Sunni Arabs fading. The media won't notice this until several weeks go by without a terrorist bombing, followed by foreign reporters looking around and asking, "where did all the Sunni Arabs go?"


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