Iraq: August 18, 2003


The number of Iraqi guards, for the Iraqi oil fields and pipelines, is being increased. Actually, the program of  forming paramilitary Iraqi security units has grown enormously, although numbers have not been released. The policy appears to be one of reminding the Iraqis that it is their country and their wealth that is at stake here. Most Iraqis understand that it is the hated Baath Party that is behind most of this violence, and that Baath is the only one that will gain from it. Few people outside the Sunni Arab areas want to see Baath (or Saddam) return to power. And most Sunni Arabs are more concerned about retribution from the majority Shia and Kurds than they are in supporting armed resistance to the occupation.

The daily, and more often, nightly, American raids continue. Several dozen more Baath supporters or foreign Islamic radicals are arrested or killed each day. These raids are unnerving to the Baath party groups, as is the armed resistance when the Sunni Arab Baath tries to operate outside their traditional areas. 

The Iraqi ruling council, which will shortly turn into an Iraqi government, is displaying the fractious behavior that has long characterized Iraqi politics. The Sunni Arabs are keeping their heads down, knowing that they were the main supporters of Saddam and the Baath Party for the last three decades. The Shias are split into many political and religious factions. The Kurds, split into two major factions, are, for the moment, largely united. There are some Shia factions that do not have members in the current council, and that means partisans of these factions go in for a lot of street demonstrations to make sure they are heard. 




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