December 29, 2009:
Although the terrorist violence is way down, from 2007 levels, it is still a regular occurrence in parts of northern Iraq. There, gangs representing Shia, Sunni, Turk and Kurd factions attack each other (with roadside bombs, gunfire or suicide attacks). Several times a week, there's an incident. Meanwhile, Iraqi Sunni Arab exile groups are organizing for the long haul. But some of these groups did not hide their origins (as pro-Saddam terror groups) sufficiently, and are now being banned (from the international banking system) by the United States. One such group, Jaysh Rijal al-Tariq al-Naqshabandi, was accused of supporting some of the current violence with money and people. Syria, host to nearly a million Iraqi Sunni Arab refugees, and many known associates of Saddam, has long hosted Arab terror groups. The pro-Saddam groups have run through most of the money they escaped from Iraq with after 2003, and now must do fund raising. The American sanctions make such money raising efforts more difficult. The pro-Saddam groups will be around for a while. There are some such groups that have been in Syria for decades, and still occasionally manage to kill someone in the Middle East.
Iran still has a terrorist network in southern Iraq, and U.S. and Iraqi forces are still hunting down, and capturing or killing, members of these groups (that want to establish a Shia religious dictatorship, similar to the Iranian one, in Iraq). There is not a lot of support for such a religious dictatorship, but thousands of true believers are willing to kill for the cause.
In the last two weeks, Islamic terrorists killed or wounded several hundred Christians and Shia Moslems. But now the attacks are shifting towards political and military leaders, as the various radical (either pro-Iran or pro-Sunni Arab) groups try to weaken the government and take over. The security forces took down two terror cells in Kirkuk, and defused nine bombs, during the last few weeks. By making so many attacks in such a short period of time, the dozen or so terrorist cells in the north, made themselves more vulnerable to the police. Now, many of these groups will spend a few weeks, or months, taking care of their own security problems, instead of launching attacks.
December 24, 2009: The terror attacks against Shias and Christians preparing for their religious holidays, reached a peak, leaving 27 dead. The Christians, like the Sunni Arabs, have seen a quarter of their populations flee the country since 2003. The Christians have long survived by loyally serving whoever was in power. For over three decades, that meant Saddam Hussein and his Baath Party. But the downside of that is, when that power is overthrown, there is revenge. Iraq has been a hostile place for Christians, since the arrival of Islam 1,600 years ago, but the persecution has accelerated (throughout the Middle East) in the last century.
December 20, 2009: Iranian troops pulled out of the disputed oil well compound, but only moved back 50 meters towards their border.
December 19, 2009: Iraqi troops and police showed up to confront the Iranian troops who are occupying an oil well compound near the border. The Iraqis are staying a kilometer away, to avoid any accidental shooting. Iran has also apparently ordered several dozen Iranians, imprisoned in Iraq for terrorist acts, to stage a hunger strike. Iran is providing the publicity for the hunger strike, to try and get some international attention, and sympathy for the imprisoned Iranian agents.
December 18, 2009: Iranian troops crossed the border and dug in around an oil well. The oil field underneath was, until the 1970s, owned by both countries. But since then, Iraq has claimed sole possession. The one oil well is sitting atop 1.5 million barrels of oil (worth over $130 million at current prices). Iran claims this well, and wants it back. Iraq preceded its invasion of Kuwait in 1990, by making similar claims on an oil field that straddled the border.