Iraq: What Islamic Radicals and Iraqi Christians Have In Common

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January 30, 2006: The major Sunni Arab resistance groups have formed a council for negotiating with the government and American forces. Such negotiations have been increasingly common over the past year, as more and more Sunni Arabs turned against the al Qaeda terror campaign. The deaths of so many Iraqi civilians, especially Sunni Arabs, was enormously unpopular, and al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi was unable to spin the situation in a favorable direction. Many of these Sunni Arab groups are still intent on putting a Sunni Arab back in charge of the country, and some are still willing to use force. But their association with al Qaeda terrorism has been a setback, and the government, the coalition and the Sunni Arab terrorists all have an interest in putting al Qaeda out of business. That is being done with direct action (Sunni Arab gunmen killing al Qaeda members, or driving them away), or indirectly (by providing information to the police or Americans.) The incidence of suicide bomb attacks continues to decline, although there are still enough to keep journalists busy.

Al Qaeda, and the Sunni Arab groups who support them, are trying another tactics. They are increasing attacks on Iraqi Christians. These groups, who have been in Iraq since before Islam was founded in the 7th century, have long been tormented. Thousands of Iraqi-Americans are descendents of Iraqi Christians who have been fleeing this kind of persecution for generations. But the current persecution is far more violent and deadly than what is "normal." Many Iraqis see these persecution as justified, because Iraqi Christians were favored by Saddam Hussein. This is a common tactic with dictators, depending on minorities for recruits and officials, because the minorities normally live in fear of the majority population, and are willing to cooperate in return for protection. Because of this, it is difficult for the Iraqi Christians to get any protection from the current government. As they have for centuries, more Iraqi Christians are trying to get out of the country, and heading for the Christian West.

American troops levels have been reduced about twenty percent over the last three months. At the same time, the Iraqis government has 220,000 police and troops in service. This force varies enormously in capability, and loyalty to the government. Several different training programs, over the last three years, have turned out troops and police. Not all these programs imparted the same skills or procedures. It was considered more important to screen, via the training, the recruits. Those who show they can learn basic procedures, and reliably carry out orders, get the jobs. But a sizable minority of recruit cannot, or will not, meet these minimal qualifications. Most are washed out, but some, because of powerful sponsors (usually a tribal chief), get to stay in uniform anyway. These faulty recruits often get tossed out eventually, or desert. Western instructors see the Iraqi security forces as an evolving force, that will continue to recruit heavily, to replace those who are fired or desert, until the force is largely composed of reliable and competent troops and policemen. This process could take years, and in the meantime, there will still be hapless and corrupt security troops in service.

 

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