Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Rising Threat

As the combat threats in Iraq decline, one threat that has been there all along contributing to the violence and inflating the impression of "resistance" is composed of criminal gangs.

The Iraqis can now address these common criminals:

Iraqis have been quick to react to the sharp decline in terrorist violence. The streets of most Baghdad neighborhoods are filled with people, as are the schools. Thousands of refugees from the city have returned. More importantly, the police now regularly patrol most of the city, talking to people, and collecting information on who-is-who and what is up. The next big target is the criminal gangs, which still rule many neighborhoods, and impose their own kind of terror on many Iraqis. The gangs are a major source of anti-government activity, and often supplied terrorists with goods and services. Many terrorists have switched to being gangsters, once the terrorist organization they belonged to was destroyed over the last few months.

This is a good thing. And success against this threat should be easier since these guys commit violence for profit and not ideology. Smack them hard and they should draw back to crimes that don't get them as much government lethal attention.

There are the Shia gangs, too, of course. Victors often scrap amongst themselves after the victory. Which makes it no less dangerous for our interests, of course. We need to make sure that contest is mostly conducted by ballots rather than bullets.