Iraq: March 30, 2005

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For most of March, enemy attacks have been running at less than half the level of the past few months. Attacks have not been this infrequent since last April. It is believed that the attacks are fewer because of poor morale among the attackers, and the loss of many leaders in terrorist and Sunni Arab gangs. The anti-government forces never really recovered from the beating they took in Fallujah last November. While most of the enemy leaders got out of Fallujah and set up shop in other Sunni Arab cities, the failed effort to stop the January 30th vote exposed many of the surviving terrorist groups to attack by Iraqi and coalition forces. The terrorists also suffered from the increasingly bad reputation they were getting. When the resistance began 18 months ago, it was pitched as a popular uprising against foreign occupation. But the foreign troops proved to be deadly opponents, and they were aided by a growing number of Iraqi police and troops. In fact, the Iraqi government forces were seen as a deadlier enemy to terrorists and anti-government gunmen. An Iraqi cop could more quickly identify who was bad, or hiding guns, or bomb making equipment. So the terrorist increasingly turned their guns on Iraqis. Over the last six months, the anti-government efforts turned increasingly into brutal terrorism against Iraqi collaborators. Recently, the terrorists have been releasing more video tapes of Iraqis, or foreign civilians (particularly Arabs or Turks), working for the government or coalition forces. But pure terror often doesnt work, and tends to backfire. Its backfiring now, and the terrorists are trying to come up with a new tactic. There arent many options.  Iraqis have gotten numb to all the suicide bombings and assassinations. Moreover, people have more to fear from criminal kidnappings (there are several hundred a month), robbery, hijacking and burglary. Foreign terrorists are in greater danger than ever before, with more Iraqis willing to turn them into the growing number of Iraqi police. In more cases, Iraqis are taking the law into their own hands, and killing foreigners, or Iraqis, suspected of terrorist, or criminal, activity.

The war isnt over by any means. As terrorists and anti-government gangs fade, Iraqis have to deal with the always larger number of criminal gangs, and the long tradition of government corruption. In the West, we take law and order for granted, but in Iraq, that sort of thing is seen as an impossible dream that is suddenly within reach.

 

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