Iraq: May 30, 2005

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The governments promised ring of steel around Baghdad began on Sunday, and, as expected, the terrorist groups began trying to get out of town before that. Thus the weekend saw much violence, with some fifty people, mostly civilians, killed in attacks and fighting concentrated in and around Baghdad. There were several gun battles between gangs of terrorists and the police. Operation Thunder began with loud noises, and Iraqi police and soldiers appearing everywhere in town.  

The terrorists are cornered and, increasingly, having their hideouts and workshops discovered and destroyed. While May has seen, so far, over 700 Iraqis (mostly civilians) killed by terrorist attacks, over three hundred terrorist suspects have been killed in May, and over a thousand arrested. This past weekend, over 500 terrorists suspects were taken into custody, and over a dozen terrorist locations raided. Hundreds of weapons, and much bomb making material was seized. A lot of cash is being found. Last week, one raid grabbed six million dollars in American currency. The cash is considered as important as the weapons and explosives. Most of the terrorists do it because they are paid. Even the suicide bombers themselves, who are nearly all foreign volunteers, require cash to keep them fed, hidden and attended by paid minders who make sure the martyrs dont change their minds. 

The number of tips from civilians is increasing, partly as a result of more Iraqi police and soldiers on the streets. But even American troops are getting more tips, because after two years of operating in Sunni areas, the Americans have built personal relationships with locals, and that has led to information about where roadside bombs are hidden, and who put them there. Iraqi cops are getting tips on where the foreign terrorists are hanging out, but these guys often get away before a raid can be conducted. This is because of cops, bribed by the terrorists, to warn of raids. This is one reason for the ring around Baghdad. This gives the terrorists no place to run. The dirty copy tipping off the terrorists will be less effective, and the police SWAT teams are just roaming around, ready to move immediately when a tip comes in, making it more difficult for terrorist spies to compromise the raid. 

The government expects the terrorists to be much less capable in June, and for the death rate among Iraqi civilians to be a lot lower. The death rate in May was about three times what it had been for most of the past year. Most of the dead are in central Iraq, where Sunni Arabs working for the government, and Shia Arabs in general, have been attacked. But over a million Sunni Arabs live in northern and southern Iraq, in areas where Shia Arabs or Kurds are the majority. A general uprising against the Sunni Arabs would result in great slaughter among the Sunni Arabs. Most Sunni Arab leaders, aware of this danger, have been offering to cooperate with the government, but there are dozens of Sunni Arab religious leaders who continue to preach support of the terrorism. Some of these preachers are getting assassinated, and the majority of Sunni Arab leaders are not too upset about it. Its suspected that some of these hits were ordered, and carried out by, Sunni Arabs. 

By the end of the June, look at the number of people the terrorists have killed and compare it to the nearly 800 killed in May. That will tell you how successful the battle for Baghdad was. 

 

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