Iraq: Why American Casualties Declined Last Year

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January 26, 2006: Here's how Saddam's followers lost a second time. In 2004, American troops suffered 8,837 casualties in Iraq (ten percent fatal). In 2005, casualties declined by 23 percent, to 6,785 (12 percent fatal). That didn't make the news because the number of American dead remained about the same. That's too bad, because there were some more interesting patterns. For example, the number of attacks (mostly by Sunni Arab Iraqis) in 2005 was 34,131, an increase of 29 percent from 2004. That's attacks on foreign and Iraqi troops, and Iraqi civilians. But how can American casualties go down if the number of attacks are going up? Simple, there are a lot more Iraqi soldiers and police for the terrorists to attack, and they are getting hit. There have been a lot more Iraqi casualties. By the end of the year, about three times as many as the Americans were taking.

This war is all about the Iraqis taking control of their country from the Sunni Arabs who have run things for so long. While the coalition destroyed Saddam's army in 2003, his secret police and Sunni Arab tribal militias were still around. These thugs went back to looking like civilians, and kept on terrorizing the Iraqis who opposed Saddam (the 80 percent who were Kurds or Shia Arabs). But now these thugs were also running into American troops, who were all over the Sunni Arab areas of central Iraq. U.S. troops usually proved fatal to Saddam's enforcers. This battle has been going on for two years, and Saddam's crew are losing. Recently, they have more frequently losing to Iraqi troops, and in the next few months, Iraqis will be in charge of security for most of the country. Over the past year, Iraqi army divisions have been activated, and taking control of security in larger and larger chunks of the country. This, to the Sunni Arabs, was the most visible evidence that they were losing. The Sunni Arab strategy was always to try and kill enough Americans to force coalition troops out of the country. Then, the Sunni Arabs believed, they could put the Kurds and Shia Arabs back in their place, and resume running the country. Seeing as how this is not working, the Sunni Arabs are now deep into democratic politics.

The December 15 elections gave the Sunni Arabs 21 percent of the seats in the parliament. That's about equal to their share of the population. Moreover, the Sunni Arabs ended up with more seats (59), than the Kurds (53). Various smaller groups got eight seats, while the Shia Arabs got the majority (155, or 56 percent). The Iraqis wrote their constitution with all these ethnic and religious groups and mind, and made it so you need a two-thirds majority to form a government (appoint a president, prime minister and other ministers). In the next month, that new government will be formed. First, there will be negotiations to decide who will get what jobs. Power and money are at stake, as most Iraqis want to shut down the Islamic and criminal gangs, pump more oil, and steal as much of the revenue as possible.

The head of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, has been forced to resign from his position as the head of the "Iraqi Resistance." He was replaced by an Iraqi Sunni Arab. This was due to growing hostility towards al Qaeda by Sunni Arabs.The al Qaeda policy of terrorizing anyone who appeared to oppose them, has led the Islamic terrorists to assassinate Sunni Arab leaders who were talking to the government (or suspected of doing so.) Sunni Arabs who joined the police, or even applied to do so, were killed. Suicide bombs were set off in Sunni Arab areas, killing Sunni Arab women and children. At first, Zarqawi denied that al Qaeda was going after Sunni Arabs. But this was not believable, and now even Islamic radical Iraqi Sunni Arab groups are fighting al Qaeda. In Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, there is open warfare between al Qaeda and Sunni Arab militias and terrorist groups. American combat units in western Iraq, the last refuge of al Qaeda, are finding the Sunni Arab tribes willing to give up information (often for a cash reward) about al Qaeda, and even local Sunni Arab terrorists.

The government is trying to take advantage of this to make peace deals with as many hostile groups as possible. Some of the more extremist groups, especially the ones that worked with al Qaeda (and carried out attacks that killed Iraqi civilians), have too much blood on their hands. These guys tend to fight to the death, or flee the country, to continue their mayhem somewhere else. Europe is a popular destination, as it is still possible to hide among the twenty million Moslems found there. Europe has a tradition of knowingly, or unknowingly, providing shelter and sustenance for terrorists. There are several smuggling organizations that, for a price, will get Islamic terrorists into Europe, and equipped with false documents.

 

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