Iraq finds itself in
a similar situation to the government of Rwanda. There, after a 1994 attempt,
by radical Hutus (84 percent of the population) to exterminate the Tutsi people
(15 percent of the population), that killed nearly a million, hundreds of
thousands of the killers, and their supporters, fled to neighboring Congo.
There they continue to wage a guerilla war on Rwanda, and the Tutsi minority
that still runs the country. In Iraq, the Sunni Arabs, who killed hundreds of thousands
of Kurds and Shia Arabs during Saddam's reign, have also fled to neighboring
Syria and Jordan. But many have stayed behind in Iraq to wage a campaign of
terror against the government (now dominated by the Shia Arab majority). In the
last year, Sunni Arab support for the terrorists (mostly Iraqi, but about ten
percent are al Qaeda, and most of them are foreigners) collapsed under the
relentless hammering of U.S. and Iraqi forces. Terrorist activity dropped sharply,
from a high of 3,000 Iraqi deaths (civilians and security forces) in February,
2007, to under 600 in December. Those deaths have been increasing since, and
will probably hit at least 700 this month. U.S. deaths have not fluctuated as
much, going from 85 in February, 2007, to 24 in December and 30-40 this month.
The Iraqi terrorists have managed to again adapt, and establish new networks.
There are fewer terrorists now, and they cannot launch as many attacks. They
are using more bribes to remain hidden from Iraqi police and troops, which
comprise the majority of the forces looking for them.
The terrorists are also aided by the
fact that, when Sunni tribes, that switched their support to the government
least year, got to know government officials well, they often reconsidered
their position. The Sunni Arabs realized that many of the Shia Arab government
officials did not like Sunni Arabs at all. That's because these officials had
lost friends or family to Sunni Arab terror over the last few decades. Some of
these Shia Arabs were using their government positions, especially police and
army commanders, to continue seeking out and killing Sunni Arabs who used to
work for Saddam. That's a major problem, as many Sunni Arab tribal leaders were
once members of Saddams security forces, or are related to those that were.
American commanders would like the
maintain their strength at 20 brigades for another year, but political (there's
a presidential election coming up) and practical (the 15 month tours are
putting a strain on the troops) considerations mean that five of those brigades
will leave this Summer. That was the "Surge" force that came in a year ago.
Tours will also be reduced to twelve months. It will be mostly up to the Iraqis root out
the terrorists. That causes problems. When the Iraqi security forces operate in
Sunni Arab areas, they are often seen as Kurdish and Shia avenging angels, intent
on exterminating Sunni Arabs in Iraq. That's true often enough to terrify many
Sunni Arabs, who cannot afford to flee, into keeping up support for the
The Shia Arab extremists insist the
only solution is to expel all Sunni Arabs from the country. But these guys are
also the ones who are willing to fight a civil war with fellow Shia who
disagree with them. There are many Shia Arab factions, but the two big ones
that count these days, are those that want an Islamic dictatorship, as in Iran,
and those that don't. If a religious dictatorship promised more honest and
efficient government, it would have wide appeal. But the millions of Iranian pilgrims
who have visited Shia shrines in the south over the last few years, left little
doubt that the clergy are as inept and corrupt as any other politician, if you
let them take over.
The UN is having a hard time raising
money to support the two million Sunni Arabs who have fled Iraq. It's no secret
that many of these fled because they had blood on their hands, or feared
getting killed along with those that did. Saddams key aides took billions of
dollars with them, and spent more of it on terrorism back in Iraq, then to aid
their fellow Sunni Arabs in exile. Potential donors to UN relief efforts see
the risk of the news media taking a close look at the Iraqi exile community,
and they back off. At the same time, the media does not like to dwell on
exactly who the Iraqi refugees are, and exactly why they fled. War does strange
things to people.
Meanwhile, Turkey made their move up
north, sending several hundred elite infantry across the border. These troops,
along with dozens of F-16 and helicopter air strikes, are out to destroy the
dozen or so camps that support the 3,000 PKK separatists who are based in
northern Iraq (when they aren't carrying out attacks in eastern Turkey.) The
Kurdish government in northern Iraq refused to crack down on the PKK, so now
the Turks are doing it. The Iraqi government has protested, but neither the
Shia politicians in Baghdad, nor the Kurdish ones up north, can do much about
it. To send Iraqi troops (Arab or Kurdish) against the Turks would be suicidal.
The Iraqis know that from centuries of experience. The Iraqi government had
promised to stop the PKK from attacking Turkey, but failed to do so. Now they
must stand aside while the Turks beat up on the PKK for a few weeks. This will
not mean the end of the PKK, but there will be a decrease in PKK attacks this
Spring. And that's something Turkish politicians can take to the bank. So far,
this fighting has left about 150 dead, over 80 percent of them PKK.