Sunday, January 09, 2005

The Daily News from Iraq

Shiite. Sunni. Kurd.

Does your daily news accounts of Iraq include these three terms? Probably not. Instead, news stories from AP and the various other news carriers usually talk about Iraqi police troops, Iraqi security forces, Baathists, and that catch-all term, insurgents. It’s us-against-them: we’re the good guys, the insurgents are the bad guys.

Of course, the facts are otherwise (Iraq: Land and People), and it is not that simple. We are fully involved in a cultural, social, and political situation that we do not understand. Our troops do not know the enemy. People dressed in civilian clothes are shooting at them, or are outfitted with suicide bomb suits, or are planting roadside explosives. Or worse, are kids and women. How do we train for such an anomalous military situation?

Hussein has been toppled. The United States is determined to implement a democratic government in a major middle eastern country. The minority culture in that country – the Sunni – are opposed to our plan and are using multiple military methods to say so. The Shiites are in the majority and are hopeful that this election gives them the only Shiite state in the region. The Sunni and Shiite view the Kurds as foreign intruders, and the Kurds trust no one.

But you rarely read that in your daily newspaper.

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