28 February 2005

Patience and Its Limits

An earlier post noted reports that the insurgency has started to fragment into, for ease of description, native and foreign elements; the former comprises the remnants of Saddam Hussein's Ba'athist regime and its supporters within the Sunni community, whereas the latter consists of the al-Qaeda-aligned, al-Zarqawi-led foreign terrorists who have flowed into Iraq since the end of the war. While each group almost certainly contains some personnel more closely-aligned with the other, their interests have started to diverge since the successful Iraqi elections, from which the Iraqi Sunni minority unwisely abstained at the behest of their de facto leadership. Faced with the evidence of their failure to stop the nascent democracy at its inception, the native component of the insurgency, according to some reports not yet proved, appeared to be reconsidering its resistance and moving toward a constructive place in the new Iraq. Whether those reports ultimately prove to be true or false may become largely beside the point in whatever happens next.

This morning's car bombing in a Shia city near Baghdad has, at current count, killed more than 115 people and severely injured scores more. Whether the act itself was perpetrated by native insurgents or foreign fighters, there is no doubt that it is the work of the Sunni minority or elements acting in concert with them. For those keeping score, this is the same Sunni minority which prospered from the illegitimate reign of Hussein his relentless repressions of the Shiite majority and Kurdish minority within Iraq; these latter groups have united behind the budding political process, albeit with distinct political concerns.

Leadership in the new democracy is not the Sunnis' due by either works or numbers; their past history of assuming a place of superiority and maintaining their illegitimate authority by force is not forgotten by the formerly-repressed and now-ascendant Shiites and Kurds. The Sunnis' are, seemingly, unable to either understand their new place in Iraq or to extricate themselves from their alliance with foreign terrorists. A solid majority of the Iraqi populace has made their voices heard in support of freedom and democracy and will now take control of the apparatus and alliances of the new Iraqi government; as the death toll amongst this populace continues to mount owing to Sunni and Sunni-supported terror, how long will it be before their patience ends and their instinct for self-preservation takes over? How long will it be before the power of the new Iraqi state is directed against the Sunni minority which seeks its destruction and which has allied with the enemies of the state?

Whether soon after the formation of the new government or later, after efforts to bring the Sunnis into the fold have failed, when that action finally begins it will be difficult to stop and its effects will persist long after it ends. The Sunni rank-and-file have a very short window of opportunity to make their voices heard above the actions of those terrorists they have, to this point, actively-supported with their bodies and resources and passively-supported through their silence.

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