Iraq: Those Priceless Americans


May 1, 2009:  The government has released data showing that 110,000 Iraqis have died, mostly from sectarian and terrorist violence, since 2003. The killing has declined considerably in the last year. In March, 2008, 1,276 died, versus 335 for March, 2009. But now there is a surge in the violence. About half the recent attacks were against Shia targets, apparently a continued effort by Sunni Arab radicals attempting to trigger a civil war between Sunni and Shia. This has always been a bad idea, as it is based on the fantasy that the Sunni Arabs would somehow win, and regain control of Iraq. Over the last five years, Sunni Arab terrorism has only resulted in the much stronger Shia population (which controls the government) retaliating and chasing half the Sunni Arab population from their homes. Over a third of the Sunni Arab minority (about five million people in 2003) are now in exile, and many Kurds and Shia (who are over 80 percent of the population) would like to drive all the Sunni Arabs out.

For the second month in a row, over 300 people died from suicide bomb attacks. As violent as this is, it's still way down from last year's violence (over 1,200 deaths a month). Last month, fifteen American military personnel died in Iraq. That's up from the record low (9 dead) in March. Iraqi security forces suffered 339 dead in April, and 278 in March.

British forces have officially withdrawn from Iraq, after having been there since they captured the city in March of 2003.  Several hundred troops and civilians actually remain, to provide training and advice. Some 5,000 U.S. troops have taken over the security duties performed by the 3,800 departing British troops.

April 30, 2009: Late at night, Turkish warplanes bombed several PKK targets in the north, near the Turkish border. In the south, U.S. and British forces turned security for of the largest oil terminal over to Iraqi forces.

April 27, 2009: The government accused U.S. troops of an illegal raid in the southern Shia town of al Kut, where American forces were looking for a man who was financing pro-Iran militias. During the raid, two were killed and five arrested (including a police captain and a tribal chief). The U.S. later apologized, but pointed out that the raid was carried out by the book, in cooperation with Iraqi police. The Iraqi outburst is believed the result of the target of the raid being well connected politically. Many of those involved in illegal activities (political, or just criminal) have political connections, usually the result of a politician getting paid, and the criminals protected from police interference. While the Iraqi security forces can be bought, the American forces cannot. Corruption continues to be the major problem in Iraq, causing ineffective government,  crippling the economy and causing much unrest among the population.

In Baghdad, police broke up a terrorist cell with the arrest of seven suspects (a policeman and six civilians) who were believed responsible for 27 recent attacks.

April 25, 2009:  Terrorist attacks over the last two days have left over 150 dead.

April 24, 2009: Four bombs went off in Baghdad, and north of it (Diyala Province), killing 78. This was the worst day of terrorist violence in a year. The government said they had captured the head of Al Qaeda in Iraq; Abu Omar al-Baghdadi.




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