Iraq: Trying To Bring Back The Good Old Days

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April 9, 2009: Despite the scary headlines, generated by the few terrorist bombs that still go off, overall violence continues to decline. In March, 252 Iraqis died violently, the same as the month before, and over 90 percent less than two years ago. U.S. deaths are at a six year low. The biggest problems now are not the remaining the Islamic terror groups, but the criminal gangs and pervasive corruption that enable the terrorists to keep operating. Islamic terrorists are the most unpopular people in Iraq, even among Sunni Arabs, but the general willingness to take bribes, and cut corners, makes it possible for the terrorists to stay at large, and in business.

In 2008, some 6,800 Iraqis died from violence, which was a sharp decrease from 2007. So far, it appears that Iraqi deaths from violence this year will be less than half what they were last year. The core of the remaining Iraqi terrorists continue to be Saddam stalwarts who fear eventual retribution for their decades of atrocities, or really believe that the Sunni Arabs will, if they kill and terrorize enough people, eventually take back control of the government. While the U.S. forces are working with Iraqi police and troops in seeking out the remaining Sunni Arab terrorists, the Americans are also still looking for dozens of international terrorists who had been Saddams "guests" for years. Many of these guys went to work for the Iraqi terrorists, there being few other places they could flee to (some had made enemies in Syria and Sudan, the other places where a weary terrorist could seek shelter, or even retirement.) Dozens of these wanted men are still believed hiding out in Iraq, and the Americans would like to capture or kill them before leaving.

The U.S. has turned over control of the Sunni Arab "Sons of Iraq" militia to the Iraqi government. The 100,000 members of the Sons of Iraq do not like this, because they know that most Iraqis (the 85 percent who are Kurdish or Shia) would like to see all Sunni Arabs gone from the country. Having discriminated against non-Sunnis for centuries, the Sunnis do not like being on the receiving end. But they must be careful, as too much terrorist violence, that can be traced back to Sunni groups, and the Kurds and Shia might be motivated to ignore world opinion, and attack the remaining Sunni Arabs, killing them and chasing them out of the country. This appears unbelievable to Westerners, but is a common topic of conversation inside Iraq, and neighboring countries. The Sunni Arabs have managed to make themselves very, very unpopular in Iraq.

British troops have turned over their Basra bases to the United States, and are moving their troops back to Britain. During their six years in southern Iraq, 179 British troops died. For most their time in the south, British troops comprised about five percent of all the foreign forces in Iraq.

One of the lingering legacies of Saddam's rule are over 3,000 minefields in northern Iraq. These were created to help control the Kurdish population, and have killed over 12,000 people in the last few decades. Clearing all these mines is expected to take over a decade.

Iraqi Airways has, after 19 years, resumed regular flights to Europe. The economy continues to experience exuberant growth, despite the crime and corruption. In the 1990s, Saddam had used the UN embargo as an excuse to loot and ruin the national economy. In the 1970s, before Saddam took over and launched two ruinous wars, Iraq was a prosperous country with a vibrant economy and culture. Most older Iraqis want to get back to that, and so do their children, who were born after the good times ended.

 

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