Iraq: January 20, 2005


The anti-government campaign to disrupt the elections is failing. Yesterday, six car bombing attempts failed, with none of the bombers able to reach their intended targets. One bomber was captured, the other five detonated where they were when they realized they could not get through the security. Some two dozen Iraqis, mostly civilians, were killed as a result. This sort of thing only makes the Sunni Arab terrorists more unpopular, and more likely to be turned in by someone in the Sunni Arab neighborhoods where the terrorists live, and prepare their car bombs and other explosive devices. 

Kidnapping has also lost its effectiveness as a terror weapon. Earlier this week, a Catholic archbishop in Mosul was kidnapped. Many of Iraq's Christians live in Mosul, and they have been there for about two thousand years. Then there were reports of someone demanding a $200,000 ransom, then, within 24 hours, the bishop was released. Sunni Arab clergy have been denouncing kidnappings for some time, especially since so many of them are for money, not politics. 

The campaign against foreign workers, kidnapping and murdering them, has not stopped foreign workers from coming to Iraq. The money is too good, and the incidence of attacks is too low. All it has done is make the terrorists look like depraved murderers. In fact, the only Arab media that portrays the terrorists inside Iraq as heroic is outside Iraq. The Arab satellite news services, which are all run by Sunni Arabs, are enthusiastic supporters of  terrorism by Iraqi Sunni Arabs. Iraq's Sunni Arab neighbors are not happy about the upcoming elections, and the takeover of the government by the Shia Arab majority. The Sunni Arabs in the region fear that a Shia dominated Iraq will cause unrest among the Shia Arab minorities found throughout the Persian Gulf countries. But the resistance to a Shia Arab government goes deeper than that. For centuries, Sunni Arabs have been treating Shia Arab Moslems badly. There is some fear that a Shia Arab led Iraq would feel compelled to redress some of these grievances throughout the region. 

Most Iraqis see nothing to stop them from voting on the 30th. The terrorist threats are only somewhat effective in Sunni Arab areas, and even there, many towns and neighborhoods are openly resisting the Baath Party and al Qaeda forces. The Shia Arab majority in Iraq feels pretty invincible at the moment, and the Sunni Arabs fear that this invincibility will become a reality this year. This all depends on how fast the new government can get Iraqis trained to fight back. 

The only quick way to create an effective army and police force quickly is to put a lot of hastily trained men into action, and promote the survivors. This approach is all too common, but so unpleasant that no one likes to talk about it. It's what is happening in Iraq, although the U.S. is sending more trainers to work with the Iraqis, to try and adapt American leadership training techniques for the different attitudes and culture found in Iraq. There are successful models for creating effective Arab troops. Anwar Sadat did it in Egypt in the early 1970s. Jordan did it in the 1930s, with British assistance, and has maintained superior military leadership standards ever since. Arab culture does not encourage the development of effective military leadership, but outside pressure, or a current crises, will provide sufficient incentives. That's what's happening in Iraq right now. The effective Iraqi police and army units are in action, allowing other Iraqis to not only see how it's done, but that Iraqis can do it. More Iraqis are willing to step forward and train for leadership positions, and then risk their lives doing the job. That's how you sustain a democracy. 


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