April 01, 2005


Another major Shia religious festival, which lasted from 29-31 March, ended without incident. The government made a major effort to provide security for the large gatherings of Shia Arabs attending religious ceremonies. Sunni Arab terrorists, especially al Qaeda, consider these ceremonies a major insult to Sunni religious beliefs. The government deployed a security effort on the same level as the one rolled out for the January elections. Coalition troops deployed mostly as back up and quick reaction forces. Al Qaeda tried to use suicide car bombers, but none of them got through to large assemblies of Shia Arabs. In one incident, a car bomb went off and killed five people, which was the most any of the attacks were able to do.

Another reason the attacks were not successful was that, in the days before March 29th, police arrested hundreds of Sunni Arabs and foreigners suspected of being terrorists. Many were, and this is because an increasing number of Sunni Arab religious leaders have changed their minds about armed resistance to democracy, and coalition forces. This has made it easier for Sunni Arabs to pass on information to the police. The Sunni religious leaders have done the math and concluded that they were backing the losing side.

This sounds like a major success, and one that deserves a lot of attention.