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By Ahmed Alaskary & Mohammed Baraka
August 17, 2006
  • Without a clear understanding of the factors which are causing the continuing instability in Iraq, especially in Baghdad, an effective solution cannot be formulated. There are two sources for the continued violence:
1. Terrorists/Insurgents

The insurgency is almost exclusively Sunni Arab-led and since Iraq's liberation they have targeted mostly civilians, but also troops and officials, through suicide bombings, car bombings and assassinations. Their goal is to destabilize the democratically elected government and alter the new democratic reality back to minority rule.

2. Militias

The militias, which are mainly Shi'i (although the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party has an unnamed militia), have been blamed for sectarian killings and death squads contributing to the increased violence. However, unlike the terrorists, their aim is not to change the new political landscape. Instead, they conduct random revenge attacks against perceived Sunni insurgents and their supporters and fill in the security vacuum in their neighbourhoods.
 
While dealing with both the terrorists and militias is essential to improving the security situation, the former clearly represent a greater danger to Iraq's nascent democracy.
  • The incident in Hay al-Jihad earlier in July, when a death squad sealed the area and killed 42 Iraqis identified as Sunnis, was significant not because it was an incident of random killing of innocent people based on their religious sect (hundreds have been killed in a similar fashion over the past 3 years, especially in the so-called 'Triangle of Death'), but because it was the first case of Shias employing such a method.
  • Despite mass Sunni participation in the political process, represented by the high turnout in the December elections, and Maliki's National Reconciliation Initiative, which gives insurgents the opportunity to abandon violence in exchange for entering the political process, the Sunni-led insurgency continues unabated. Some experts have suggested that the Sunni community must be pushed into abandoning their passive support for the insurgency.
  • The two Najaf incidences, when the US and Iraqi army directly engaged Moqtada's Mehdi Army, serves to highlight that confronting the militias militarily without providing an improvement in security and an alternative only widens their public support. To improve the security situation, particularly in Baghdad, first the insurgency needs to be dealt with effectively as this will take away the publics need for the militias, thus weakening them at which stage they can then be dealt with once and for all.

 

© 2007 Iraqi Prospect Organisation
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