Iraq: Nervous Neighbors


September 11, 2005

Many border crossings to Syria were closed, as American and Iraqi troops continued making raids against terrorist groups in the area. The government banned any civilians from openly carrying weapons in the area, and those who did so anyway were arrested. There was some resistance, resulting in some 150 anti-government gunmen killed over the weekend, and several hundred suspects arrested. Several caches of weapons and bomb making materials were found, along with documents, computers and other equipment. Much of the action was in the town of Tal Afar, which several terrorist gangs had tried to use as a base. The escalating attacks on terrorist groups in Sunni Arab areas has led to a decline in terrorist attacks throughout central Iraq. 

Iraq is not happy with its Sunni Arab neighbors. Syria is still tolerating anti-Iraq activity. This consists of looking the other way while former members of Saddam Husseins government (some of them kin to Saddam) pass money to Sunni Arab terrorists inside Iraq, and assist foreign Sunni Arabs to get into Iraq to participate in the terror campaign. Jordan does not allow many hostile Sunni Arabs to cross into Iraq, but does tolerate a large population of former Saddam followers, including many members of Saddams family, who move money and encouragement into Iraq. There are thousands of Iraqi exiles in Jordan, most of them Baath Party members, who want to pit Saddam's followers back in power in Iraq. Most Jordanians would not be unhappy about this.

Saudi Arabia has a similar policy, keeping its borders closed to most terrorists wanting to enter Iraq, but not shutting down Saudis who wish to contribute to al Qaeda operations in Iraq. The other Arab Gulf states are also reluctant to impede the Sunni Arab terrorists in Iraq. While most Gulf Arabs did not care much for Saddam, they did very much want Sunni Arabs running Iraq. 

The Iraqi government is also angry with how Sunni Arab states publicly criticized their new constitution. The Sunni Arab countries dont like the idea of a federal state in Iraq. The Sunni Arab states want the Iraqi Sunni Arabs to play a major role in a centralized Iraqi state. This, of course, would make it easier for the Sunni Arabs to later stage a coup and take over again. No one will come out and say they want someone like Saddam (a strong, Sunni Arab dictator) back in power. But thats what it comes down to. The Sunni Arab countries are terrified of what Iran might do in the future. Iran is currently controlled by Islamic conservatives. But they are Shia Islamic conservatives, who consider Sunni Islamic conservatives as enemies. Thats mainly because Sunni Islamic conservatives believe all Shia are heretics and should be converted or killed. Not much room for negotiation there. So for most Sunni Arabs, who controls Iraq is a matter of survival for Sunni Arabs in the Persian Gulf region. Democracy doesnt matter as much as avoiding conquest by the Iranians does. 

All this puts an Iraqi government dominated by Shia Arabs (60 percent of Iraqis) and Kurds (20 percent, and they arent even Arabs, but ethnic cousins to the Iranians) in no position to demand anything from their frightened Sunni Arab neighbors. 


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