Iraq: August 17, 2005

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There is a horrific murder campaign going on in Baghdad, with more people being killed by gunfire, knives and blunt instruments, than by terrorist bomb attacks. Over a thousand people a month are being killed in Baghdad, which is a death rate of 200 per 100,000 population. This is nearly twice what the rate was in Colombia, at the height of the drug and political violence in that country. What is going on in Baghdad is a war of terror and revenge. The terrorists are trying to intimidate people for political, religious or economic reasons. But most of the deaths appear to be revenge killings, with Kurds and Shia Arabs hunting down and killing Sunni Arabs who worked, and killed, for Saddam. These attacks have been going on since Saddams government fell, and have been increasing as Sunni Arab gangs lose, to the growing police force, control of their neighborhoods. This is the Sunni Arab nightmare, the a major reason (besides money) for Sunni Arabs supporting anti-government terrorism. 

The U.S. 82nd Airborne division is sending one of its infantry battalions to Iraq for a special mission. Its believed that the paratroopers will be used for the high speed raids against Sunni Arab gangs in western Iraq. These raids have been going on for most of this year and have led to a large number of arrests, and a decrease in terrorist attacks. Hundreds of arms caches, bomb workshops and safe houses have been seized, along with many terrorist leaders. The enemy is fighting back, because this is the homeland of the terrorists, they have nowhere else to go. If the American raids keep up, the terrorists will not be able to sustain their attacks, which is why the number of attacks are declining already.

One form of warfare is increasing in western Iraq. Battles between Al Qaeda gangs and Sunni Arab tribes continue, as the Sunni Arabs get fed up with bullying by foreign Sunni Arab al Qaeda religious fanatics. The al Qaeda gangs have created bases by taking over towns and neighborhoods. Those that do not go along with this, are terrorized into remaining silent, or killed if they appear openly hostile to al Qaeda. These religious fanatics also try to impose stricter life-style rules on the locals, which is really unpopular. Over the last six months, more and more towns, under the leadership of clan and tribal leaders, have offered armed resistance to al Qaeda. These same tribes will fight the Americans or Iraqi troops as well, but for the moment, the government offers medical, or other aid, after the tribes have tossed out al Qaeda gunmen. 

The Iraqis did not deliver their new constitution by the August 15th deadline, and the legislature allowed another week to complete the task. Whats holding up the work are the four Rs; Revenge (how much amnesty and power to give the hated Sunni Arab minority), Regionalism (how much independence the Kurds have), Religion (how much influence Islam should have on the legal system) and Resources (who gets how much of the oil money). 

The Sunni Arab leadership are trying to get safeguards in the constitution that would limit the revenge the Kurds and Shia Arabs will take on the Sunni Arab community for atrocities committed during the decades of Saddams rule. The Sunni Arabs are also in terror of Shia Arabs not only going along with Kurdish demands for permanent autonomy, but also setting up a similar system in the south. Since 1991, when British and American troops (mainly warplanes) kept Saddams troops out of the north, the Kurds have, in effect, been independent. The Kurds have prospered and been at peace. The Shia Arabs have noticed that, and the harsh treatment the Kurds have given to any Sunni Arab gunmen foolish enough to venture into Kurdistan. 

Religion is an issue because Islamic conservatives in the Sunni and Shia community want the law of the land to reflect conservative Islam. Most Iraqis, especially the women,  do not want this, but they do want honest government (which is very rare in the Moslem world), and also note that Islamic rule in neighboring Iran has not produced honest government, and has imposed unpleasant rules on the citizens. But Iran has supported a Islamic conservative militia (the Badr Brigade) in Iraq, and these thugs have been energetic in trying to bully Iraqis to support Islamic conservatism. This is often backfiring on the street, but at the moment, many of the people putting the new constitution together are controlled by the Badr gang, and similar organizations. 

And then theres the money. The Kurds have suggested that they, and the Shia Arabs, take complete control of the oil in their areas (this would be most of the nations oil), and leave the Sunni Arabs in central Iraq with nothing. The Sunni Arabs have been monopolizing the oil money for decades, and feel this freeze out proposal is something that could be done to them by vengeful Kurds and Shia Arabs. The Kurds and Shia Arabs appear willing to compromise by accepting a larger cut of the oil.


 

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