Iraq: The Expulsion of the Sunni Arabs

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July 13, 2006: Refugees have become a growing problem since the attack on the Shia shrine in Samarra in February. So far about 150,000 Iraqis, mostly Sunni Arabs, have fled to neighboring countries. This is in addition to internally displaced persons, who may number as many, and are also mostly Sunni Arabs. In the past three years, about twenty percent of Iraqi Sunni Arabs have fled the country, including many who were closely allied with Saddam. Apparently no one's keeping an accurate count, or at least isn't advertising the fact.
The whole matter of Sunni Arab displacement is an issue that doesn't get much attention outside of Iraq, and the neighboring countries that are absorbing the refugees. Since 2003, the Kurds and Shia Arabs have been openly, and with increasing intensity, talking about tossing all the Sunni Arabs out of Iraq. The logic of this is that the Sunni Arabs have been tyrants, killers, liars and generally unfit neighbors. The last straw was the terror campaign the Sunni Arabs have been running for the past three years, in an increasingly vain attempt to regain control of the country. This effort included an alliance with al Qaeda (an openly Sunni organization) and a strategy of massacring Shia in order to trigger a response that would force neighboring Sunni Arab nations to intervene. This was always an insane strategy, but enough Sunni Arabs got behind it to leave thousands of Shia dead.
Despite all this, the Shia politicians have not gotten behind the idea of expelling the Sunni Arabs. For one thing, most Sunni Arabs have not supported the violence (although most like the idea of Sunni Arabs running the country once more), and are willing to give democracy a chance. And then there's the international condemnation that would come from a formal policy of expulsion. Although Iraq could blame the Americans, at least in part, most of the blowback would fall on the Iraqi government. So the Shia and Kurd politicians use the growing popularity of expulsion, among their constituents, to force the Sunni Arab politicians to actively assist the security forces in rounding un the Sunni Arab terrorists, and stopping the violence. So far, this has only partially successful. That's because the Sunni Arab terrorists go after Sunni Arab politicians whenever those politicians turn on the terrorists. Dozens of Sunni Arab politicians, tribal chiefs and religious leaders have been killed in this manner. So what it comes down to is the Sunni Arabs resolving what amounts to a civil war in their own ranks. The killing won't stop until the Sunni Arabs deal with the Sunni Arab terrorists. Until then, the expulsion of Sunni Arabs from their homes, and Iraq, will continue.
President Talabani has announced that the current Iraqi government is "not responsible" for the debts incurred by the ousted Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein, arguing that the lenders knew they were dealing with a criminal dictator and implying that by lending him money they were complicit in his actions. The U.N., which brokered some of the loans, is pressing for negotiations to get some of the debt honored, and paid. Russia and France are the two big losers if Saddam's debts are entirely wiped off the slate.

 

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