Iraq: April 25, 2005

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Ten suspects have been arrested, for alleged involvement in the downing of a Bulgarian helicopter on the 21st. The suspects were pointed out by other Iraqis, in a pattern that is becoming increasingly common. The terrorists have been losing popular support, as well as angering Iraqis to the point where many Iraqis are no longer afraid to resist the gangs that control many villages and neighborhoods by fear. The terrorists are usually Sunni Arabs who either supported Saddam, or are violently opposed to the idea of the Shia majority running the country. Most Sunni Arabs don't really care who runs the place, as long as it is done with less violence and corruption than Saddam used. 

The terrorists have been careful to avoid leaning on the wrong people in the Sunni Arab community. There have been many incidents, a few of them even made the news, of local Sunni Arab leaders who retaliated against terrorists for some transgression (kidnapping or injuring a friend or relative, or simply being disrespectful). There are millions of men with guns in Iraq, and only a few thousand of them have been fighting with anti-government groups. The al Qaeda "foreigners" and their car bombs have been increasingly unpopular, and the al Qaeda groups have been less successful in making peace with the local Sunni Arab tribal and religious leaders. If the terrorists make themselves too unpopular,  the people in the neighborhoods where the terrorists hang out will turn against the bomb makers. This has led to raids on several bomb factories recently. Increasingly, the raiding party is all Iraqi, with information provided by Iraqi civilians fed up with the terrorist violence. 

American intelligence has maps of Iraq showing which areas are pro-terrorist (nearly all Sunni Arab), which are anti-terrorists (nearly all the Shia and Kurd areas) and which are in transition (mostly Sunni Arab, mostly becoming anti-terrorist.) Those maps aren't going to be published until this is all over, but the footnotes reveal that the hard core terrorists are pretty hard core. There are hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who, because of their close association with Saddam (and a lot of blood on their hands), are very fearful of what will happen to them once the new government has complete control off the Sunni Arab areas. While not all these people will actively fight the new government, they will look the other way as some of their fellow Sunni Arabs do fight. But even this is changing, as the ten arrested Sunni Arabs have just found out. These maps change daily, sometimes hourly, as more information comes in about public attitudes. While the danger zones shift a bit over time, the most important change is the shrinking of areas where terrorists are active, and safe from informers. 

The terrorists continued their bombing campaign over the weekend, setting off explosions outside a mosque and a police station, killing at least twenty civilians, and wounding over 80. These tactics do not appear to be encouraging Iraqis to support the terrorists, or reduce popular support for the government. The Americans are no longer blamed for the bombings, although it's still popular to blame the attacks on Islamic "foreigners." Reluctantly, Iraqis have come to admit that there is such a thing as Islamic terrorism. What Iraqis have not yet come to grips with is the fact that many of the terrorists are Iraqi Islamic radicals. It's recognized that there are Iraqi terrorists, but these are generally tagged as diehard Saddam supporters. Many are, but the worst of this lot are on jihad, out to kill infidels and heretics like Shia Moslems and Sunnis who do not support the terrorists.

 

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