Shiite politicians, alarmed by the frequency of attacks in their country, have instigated a purge targetting Sunni infiltrators and spies in the
security forces. They plan to increase counter-insurgency operations, backed up by Iraqi Special Forces troops deployed widely throughout the
country. The Sunni minority, largely unrepresented in the new government, boycotted the election in large numbers, and have no representation in the
Interior Ministry, which is the body in charge of state security.
Iraq's Shiite Muslim leadership, alarmed by a surge in attacks as the new government prepares to take office, plans to crack down on Sunni-led
insurgents and purge suspected infiltrators and corrupt officers from the nation's security forces, officials and lawmakers say.
A likely tactic, authorities say, is unleashing well-trained Iraqi commandos in Baghdad and other trouble spots. The special forces units have a
reputation for effectiveness and brutality.
The plan for Iraqi commandos' wider deployment is indicative of how the raging guerrilla conflict here is increasingly a war pitching Iraqis against
Iraqis, leading to a decline in U.S. casualty rates as the number of Iraqi dead soars.
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While the election of the new Iraqi government was hailed as a huge success in the west, it remains to be seen if age old ethnic and religious
rivalries will take a backseat to democracy. If this rhetoric on the part of the Shiite majority is any indication, little progress has been made in
changing views. Of course, the Shiites have legitimate concerns, there are obviously traitors in the ranks, as evidenced by the execution of Iraqi
police officers on several occasions.
The problem with majority rule is, of course, the majority isn't always right. It will be telling to see how the new government deals with this
delicate situation. If they commit atrocities in the name of stability and order, they will be no different than the government they replaced. If
they excercise moderation and show evidence of fair judgement and a spirit of community, then there is hope for peace.
There is most certainly a problem with the Iraqi security forces. Many are still loyal to the old regime, and still more are loyal to their own
principles and religious vagaries, rather than to the stated goal of a democratic Iraq. It is never easy to broker peace between ancestral enemies,
and in this case, it's even harder. The Shiites were downtrodden for some time, and they may be tempted to use their new position of power to extract
vengeance on their former tormentors. If they choose that route, there is no hope for peace, because the cycle will simply repeat.