Iraq: The Final Solution

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November20, 2006: Iraqi politicians are being less diplomatic in accusing neighboring countries of backing the violence inside Iraq. The Sunni countries (especially Syria) allow terrorists to slip personnel, money and weapons across the border. This supports continued Sunni Arab terrorism by groups that either work for establishing an Sunni Islamic Republic, or protecting Saddam's henchmen from retribution. Iran supports radical Shia militias, in the hope of establishing a Shia Islamic Republic, but also to sustain the violence against Sunni Arabs who worked for Saddam. This revenge against Saddam, and his followers, is a big deal in Iran, even among political moderates. There is hardly a family in Iran that did not lose someone during the 1980s war with Iraq. Saddam and his Baath Party have long been held personally responsible for the conflict.

Algeria, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, in that order, are supplying most of the Sunni Arab radicals entering Iraq. Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Syria are, in effect, exporting Islamic radicals who were defeated in their own country. The foreigners are considered cannon fodder by the Sunni terrorist groups in Iraq, and few of the foreign volunteers last long enough to return home with useful terrorist skills. Moreover, going back to places like Algeria or Syria to carry out Islamic terrorist activities is suicidal. Both of these countries have populations, and police forces, that are hostile to Islamic terrorism, and able to stamp it out if any more Islamic radicalism shows up.

Saudi Arabia, the original home of al Qaeda, will spend $12 billion to build a high-tech barrier wall along its 900 kilometer border with Iraq. Work will begin next year, and the fence will be finished in 2009. This will keep out Sunni radicals who wish to overthrow the monarchy and establish a Sunni Islamic republic, as well as Shia radicals who want to establish a Shia Islamic republic. The fence will also crack down on smuggling, which has been going on since the kingdom was established in the 1920s.

Kidnappings by police have reached the point where major politicians are openly demanding that something be done. Unfortunately, the politicians doing most of the complaining are Sunni Arabs, who continue to take heat from Shia politicians because of continued suicide bombing attacks against Shia Arabs by Sunni Arab terrorists. Many Sunni Arab groups have a real fear that their continued existence in Iraq is threatened by this terrorism, and a civil war is developing within the Sunni Arab community. This is already the case in western Iraq. American and Iraqi troops are taking advantage of it, which is keeping the American and Iraqi casualty rate high. Most of the Iraqi troops are Shia Arab, and they talk openly fighting for a "Sunni Arab Free" Iraq. Shades of the "Final Solution." While the faint hearted Sunni Arabs continue to flee across the border, or to the few Sunni Arab areas in Iraq that do not host Sunni Arab terrorist groups, many Iraqi Sunni Arabs have vowed to fight to the end. This is a major issue in the Arab world, where the struggle between the Sunni and Shia branches has long been fought without much violence. But in Iraq, this thousand year old feud is very real, very deadly, and being closely watched by Iraq's neighbors.

Better communications (cell phone service), and more responsive police and army units, has resulted in more al Qaeda cells getting busted. Finding the safe houses used by these groups is the key, and more neighbors are calling in tips about the family next door hosting terrorists. There is no shortage of available houses, because the terrorists usually pay well. In western Iraq, however, large groups of terrorists will take over villages or neighborhoods, and move into homes, without offering payment. This sort of thing also gets the cell phones working, and leads to daily battles that are little reported.

American military and police advisors continue to struggle against Middle Eastern customs that make it difficult to produce effective Iraqi police and army units. First, there is a loyalty to family, tribe or religious sect, which takes precedence over loyalty to Iraq. About ten percent of those joining the police and army are actually working for terrorist organizations, or Shia militias (who are basically terrorists with uniforms). These disloyal police and troops keep their affiliations to themselves, or to like minded men they can trust. Added to this problem is the corruption. Too many Iraqis see it as perfectly legitimate to take a bribe. This is seen as a fringe benefit, and Iraqi police and soldiers resent attempts to take away this source of income. Yet, at the same time, these guys will complain about being on the wrong side of a bribe. This sort of thinking drives Americans nuts, but they get used to it and carry on.

American and British troops searching for four American security contractors, who were kidnapped at a phony check point last week, are using the opportunity to do a lot of damage to Shia militias. Over 400 Shia have been arrested during the large scale search operations. The government cannot protect the kidnappers, and has ignored howls of protests from Shia political parties, when members of their militias are hauled off. Same deal with the search for Sunni Arab government workers kidnapped from the Ministry of Education (which is run by a Sunni Arab party.) But the Shias still run the Ministry of Interior, and the national police. Sticking it to the Sunni Arabs is just too popular with most Iraqis (over 80 percent of the population is Kurdish or Shia Arab), so the violence against Sunni Arabs will continue.

 

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