Iraq: Change Comes Slowly

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December 7, 2007: With the terrorist threat diminishing, more attention is being paid to other problems, most notably corruption. Bribes, payoffs and kickbacks are a way of life in the Middle East. The concept of obeying laws and honoring contracts has not caught on in a big way, which, naturally, often leads to feuds and violence. A major source of wealth in Iraq is the oil. This is nearly $100 billion a year, for the next several decades. At the moment, the majority Shia are reluctant to share this wealth with the Sunni Arabs or Kurds. The Shia are particularly hard on the Sunni Arabs, who are not trusted much at all. Even with the recent cooperation of Sunni Arab groups, in fighting al Qaeda, and Sunni Arabs in general, some Sunni Arab groups are believed to be pretending to cooperate, while still carrying out terror attacks. The Kurds have their own army, but are landlocked, and would be hurt by losing access to the rest of Iraq. Use of the Turkish border is dependent on cooperation, with Turkey, in fighting Kurdish separatists from Turkey. Many factions are stressing that all this feuding is not helping anyone, but general acceptance of that idea is slow in coming. Change comes slowly to this part of the world, especially political change.

December 3, 2007: Over forty al Qaeda leaders were killed or captured last month, the largest number ever. As a result, terrorist attacks are down to record lows. Intel data suggests that al Qaeda is trying to reorganize, and is concentrating in the north, just south of the Kurdish controlled territory. But U.S. and Iraqi forces have gone north as well, and the Kurds are sending additional forces south to help crush the remaining terrorist groups.

December 2, 2007: Iraqi civilian casualties fell for the third month in a row, to 718 in November. That's the lowest since early 2006. That was when Sunni Arab terrorists attacked a Shia shrine and sparked a sharp increase of attacks on civilians by Sunni and Shia terrorists. Losses for Iraqi security forces have fallen as sharply, down to 550 dead for November. Since the U.S. invasion, over 80,000 Iraqis have died, most of them civilians killed by Sunni or Shia terrorists. Over two million Sunni Arabs have fled the country, fearing retribution for years of violence against Kurds and Shia Arabs.

December 1, 2007: Turkish troops crossed the border and killed or arrested over fifty suspected PKK members. Turkish artillery and aircraft also attacked PKK positions along the border.

 

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