On Question Of Whether Killing Of Uday

*On the question of whether the killing of Uday and Qusay on Tuesday will improve the security posture in Iraq, I doubt it. As Con Coughlin noted, in the short term attacks by Baath loyalists and Sunni radicals on US troops may increase, in order precisely to demonstrate that they have not lost heart. But beyond that, I am a social historian, and I think large groups of people matter, not just leaders. The Sunni Arabs in Iraq were pampered by the Baath regime. They got most of the goodies. They did not on the whole rise against Saddam in 1991. They are like the whites in Apartheid South Africa. They are now presented with the prospect that they will become a small minority, 16% of the population, with no more of the national pie (economic benefits and political power) than that. It seems to me entirely plausible that they would take up arms against what they see as an occupying army threatening to reduce them to such an estate. I think only when there is a new, elected Iraqi state and an army loyal to it can we expect the guerrilla operations to end. And, if they don’t end then, they just become a form of criminality to be dealt with by the Iraqis themselves. As long as the US army is in the Sunni triangle, I think there will be trouble. And if it overstays its welcome in the Shiite south, there will be trouble there, too.

So, one can rejoice that two tyrants have bitten the dust. But celebration is premature.

*Muhammad Bahr al-`Ulum, a leading member of the transitional Governing Council, has expressed discontent with US military action against the offices of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the arrest of 10 of its members (some of whom have been released), and the damage done to its newspaper operation, which publishes al-`Adala. Bahr al-`Ulum is protesting on behalf of his SCIRI colleague, `Abdul `Aziz al-Hakim. He says that he wants to see a negotiating committee set up to interface with the Americans about such attacks on organizations affiliated with Governing Council members, which he derided as inappropriate to this stage of Iraqi governance.

*For a good analysis of the significance of the recent Shiite demonstrations against the US in Najaf, see http://www.rferl.org/nca/features/2003/07/21072003155835.asp