Iraq: An Old Tradition Returns


September 11, 2006: Many Sunni Arab tribal leaders want Saddam Hussein included in those to be granted amnesty by the government. To Westerners, this may seem a bit out of touch with reality, but in Iraq it's considered quite normal. It's another way of saying, "let's haggle some more."
The Sunni Arabs are caught in a trap of their own making. The Sunni Arabs behind most of the violence face certain death if the government ever captures them. And if the Sunni Arab terrorism stops, the government will have access to all Sunni Arab areas, and will be able to round up many of the Sunni Arab terrorists. This is because most of these guys worked for Saddam, and their names are known. Many of Saddam's thugs have fled the country, but many more, for one reason or another, refuse to do so. Some won't even consider amnesty. For the Sunni Arab community to have peace, they will have to deal with Saddam's heavies. Many Sunni Arab leaders don't want to touch that one. Sunni Arab leaders that upset the terrorists tend to get assassinated. The terrorism is not just against the government, but also any Sunni Arab leaders who seem to be wavering in their support of Sunni Arabs regaining control of the country.
As a practical matter, many Sunni Arab towns and neighborhoods are in armed rebellion against the government. Troops or police entering these areas have to come ready to fight. Sniping and roadside bombs are used, and the government forces must either go house to house (searching for weapons and making arrests) or stay away. As the number of reliable police and army units increases, so does the number of such operations. Time is against the Sunni Arabs, but they refuse to agree to suppress their own terrorists, and such prevarication just prolongs the violence.
September 9, 2006: The Coalition officially handed control of the Iraqi armed forces over to the Iraqi government. Staff officers and commanders have been attending training courses in Iraq, Jordan, Europe and the U.S. for the past two years. The new Iraqi command is based on the Western model, which is quite different from the earlier one, which was based on the old Soviet model. The main difference is the higher degree of initiative allowed subordinate units in the Western model. The old Soviet model, based on the concept of armed forces subordinate to a police state and a dictator, was much more into centralized control. This was great for preventing coups and rebellions, but sucked big time when it came to winning wars. Even the Soviets had to modify their system during World War II, in order to win against the more flexible Germans. While Saddam never had anyone run a successful coup against him, the current government has to face greater threat of a military takeover. The army has staged several takeovers in the past 80 years. It's something of a local tradition in Iraq.


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