Iraq: June 28, 2005

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The prime minister announced that the Sunni Arab rebellion would be settled in two years. This is largely in response to calls from American politicians and mass media for a "timetable." Ignoring the fact that no war has ever been fought by a timetable, and that the timetable issue is mainly another ploy by opponents to the Iraq invasion, the Iraqi prime minister was, in effect, saying that most Iraqis did not have a lot of patience with the rebellious Sunni Arabs. One angle that has not been pursued, yet, by the mass media, is the popular desire, in Iraq, to punish all Sunni Arabs, severely, for the current violence, and decades of past atrocities. All talk of violence in Iraq tends to ignore the fact that the terrorists represent only a minority of the Sunni Arab community (who are only about twenty percent of the population.) The majority of Sunni Arabs are very concerned about retribution by the Kurds and Shia Arabs. From the time Saddam's Sunni Arab government fell, Sunni Arab leaders have sought out American diplomats and military commanders, to get assurance that the Americans would protect the Sunni Arabs from the majority of Iraqis who were now arming and training to fight and, as many  feared, massacre Sunni Arabs. The terrorists are largely Sunni Arabs (both Iraqi and foreign), who seek to goad the majority of Iraqis into attacking the Iraqi Sunni Arabs. This, it is believed, would trigger intervention by the world-wide Sunni Moslem community (which is over 90 percent of all Moslems.) At the very least, the Sunni Arab nations that border Iraq (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Syria) are expected to intervene. Sure, these countries could probably not defeat the American troops, but Saudi Arabia could cut off oil shipments to the United States. Surely, something good would happen, for Sunni Arab Iraqis, if a civil war could be triggered. They really believe this. 

The mass media rarely pick up on the pronouncements of radical groups. Passing mention at best, but the details are so outrageously off-the-wall and illogical, that they are just played down or tuned out. But the devil is in the details, because these odd ideas are what motivates the enemy fighters. When your foe is basing his military strategy on an impossible situation, this should be news. And anyone with a knowledge of military history will know that crazy situations like this are not uncommon (remember Pearl Harbor? The War of the War of the Triple Alliance?) Arabs, in particular, are prone to suicidal strategies and tragic tactics. Look at all of the Arab-Israeli wars. Look at the economic and social polices of the Arab oil states. Look at how Arab governments have dealt with Islamic radicalism. Actually, on this last point, there have been rather more pragmatic and well thought out policies. When faced with violent Islamic radicals in the 1990s, Egypt struck back hard, very hard. The religious radicals backed off, many fleeing the country. Same thing in Algeria, Syria and, today, in Saudi Arabia. This is called a trend, a tendency, and knowing that, what do you think is going to happen in Iraq? And how long are the majority of  Iraqis going to tolerate their quirky, and violent, Sunni Arabs? How long?

 

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