Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Loose Ends

Some of Iraq's loose ends are threatening to unravel in recent days. As the Sunni Awakening councils or Sons of Iraq are being dismantled and their members going unpaid, grumbling is increasing. Declining oil revenues mean that the government is unable to expand its jobs programs and the economy is slowing, leaving these fighters with few options for employment. Many of the former insurgents feel like they have been wronged by the central government and are threatening a return to their old ways. Already, Al Qaeda in Iraq is trying to reinvigorate itself in several areas. Rod Nordland and Alissa J. Rubin report in the International Herald Tribune.

Second, Saif Hameed and Ned Parker of the LA Times report two suicide bombs detonated yesterday, demonstrating the seams that the insurgents are targeting. One bombing in the Abu Ghraib area near Baghdad targeted a Sons of Iraq leader. The other bombing hit a Kurdish man's funeral in the contested Jalawla area of Diyala Province. The sectarian violence that gripped the country was primarily between Arab Sunnis and Arab Shia. The Kurds and the Arabs have not come into major confrontation as of yet. The borders of the autonomous Kurdish region, particularly around Kirkuk, are hotly contested. The issue was scheduled to have been resolved in 2007, but has been delayed time and again. The political contest to determine the fate of mixed areas along Kurdistan's border could easily spill over into increased violence. These do not represent new trends. They represent the loose ends that will continue to plague Iraq, and could dramatically unravel, until the root political and economic issues are laid to rest.

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