Sunday, May 22, 2005

OIL AND THE MIDDLE EAST.....

I came across this lecture in 2001, just before the attack of the twin towers.

I urge everyone to watch this lecture.
It relates directly to issues which we all might have to face up to soon..specifically regarding the Middle east. And it might shed a light on the current American involvement in reforming Iraq and the middle east.

Below is a link to a streamed video lecture by Dr. Colin Campbell which he gave to the Technische Universitنt Clausthal (Clausthal Technical University) in December 2000.

http://www.rz.tu-clausthal.de/realvideo/event/peak-oil.ram.

You can find an Extract of this lecture by doing a simple search on the net.

(After being awarded a Ph.D at Oxford in 1957, Dr Campbell joined the oil industry as an exploration geologist. His career took him to Borneo, Trinidad, Colombia, Australia, Papua New Guinea, the USA, Ecuador, United Kingdom, Ireland, and Norway.
He is now a Trustee of the Oil Depletion Analysis Centre ("ODAC"), a charitable organisation in London that is dedicated to researching the date and impact of the peak and decline of world oil production due to resource constraints, and raising awareness of the serious consequences. He has published extensively, and his recent articles have stimulated lively debate. His views are provocative yet carry the weight of a wide international experience)

PS..If you are interested in learning more about this topic then you can visit this message board.
http://www.strategytalk.org/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=2843&view=previous&

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

ISLAM 2 ......

I got many interesting responses to my last post regarding Islam and I want to thank everyone who contributed to the comments section of that blogg. Many frank and honest questions were raised and many kind words were said.

In my last post I tried to explain why Muslims seem to find it so difficult to openly criticize their religion. I also tried to address the issue of the abuse of Islam by clergy and politicians to serve their political agendas. Today I will try to address the political nature of this conflict and how that might reflect on Islam. I hope that none of you will be offended.
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The recent outcry and riots, by Muslim around the world, in response to the rumours of the desecration of the Qur’an in Guantanamo has raised many eyebrows amongst people who still view Islam (the ‘religion’) as the problem.
I do agree that it seems absurd to see so many Muslims all around the world rioting and proclaiming ‘Jihad’ and death to America, simply because of a rumour that some soldier at Guantanamo might or might not have flushed the Qur’an in the toilet. The naturally conclusion that anyone would form is that it is the teachings of the Qur’an that obliges us Muslims to do that.

You would be correct to assume that. The Qur’an does state we must not allow anyone to desecrate our holly book on punishment of death. The Qur’an is supposed to be the earthly manifestation of Gods words so to flush it in the toilet is like flushing God himself down the toilet, (I went into the issue of the Qur’an in my last ‘Islam’ post. Please go back and read it).
Did you know that it is actually an offence to even put the Qur’an on the ground, so imagine what flushing it down the toilet means; Eternal damnation in the seventh level of hell, I suppose…;)) ( I jest ).

It is also true that not many Muslims bothered to take a stand to calm or rebuff these rumour or stop these riots. But all of the above have more to do with politics than the religion itself. (please allow me to explain. read on)

All the above is true, but I think that the most critical insight one can make into all of this is possible by carefully observing the nature and content of the Arabic and Muslim media. For example. in the past three days we have had nothing but the usual reports about; -- ‘Israel building some more settlements’, ‘Americans died in Iraq’, ‘Brave Iraqi resistance fighters blow up more freedom loving traitorous children’, ‘More American operations in Iraq’, ‘More Israeli Operations’, 'Palestinians die in Gaza', 'Hizb Allah bravely engages Israeli forces in south Labanon', and so on and so forth..

And of course, their favourite subject lately, hours and hours of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib abuse accusations topped with the latest rumour of the Qur’an desecration incident.

Unfortunately, it is very clear that we are living in a World War. The Eastern Muslim world is openly and clearly at war with America and Israel. And both sides use Islam and the media as weapons and tools of convenience in this conflict. In opposite ways of course.

The Arab world abuses Islam to justify a cause and to unify people behind this cause. Religion has always been a powerful unifier of people at times of war. And Islam lends itself very well to being used in this way. At the same token, the West observes every opportunity to vilify Arabs, Muslims, and anyone who supports them in order to justify and support their actions, views and goals.

This is a classical psychological case of conflict polarisation. When two competing factions are in conflict, both sides try to find any excuse to vilify the other in order to dehumanise and humiliate them, and thus make it easier to justify the war and killing of the other. History repeats itself. We have seen this strategy in principle played out throughout history for as long as there were people in conflict.

When millions of Muslims in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Palestine, or wherever go out on the street and proclaim death and destruction to America and Israel with the same breath and sentence, it is not because of the desecration of the Qur’an or the perceived insult to Islam. No. It is simply another excuse for the general muslim population to vent their anger and frustration towards their favourate enemy.
America's continuing historic support for Israel and its continuing perceived injustices against the Palestinians and Muslims around the world is what is driving these mobs to the streats. Islam is simply a tool and a banner conscripted by the Clergy as a ‘rallying flag’ to unite as many people behind their political agenda.

I know this subject has become like a bit of a caricature.
‘We’ve heard it all before’ – I hear you say. ‘Why do the Arabs and Muslims always return to Israel as the scapegoat and justifications for their own in-action?’
Well, and without any apologies, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is, and has always been, at the heart of this problem.

Islamo-fascism didn’t come to life on the day Saddam was toppled, nor was it born on 9/11. Islamo-fascism was created through a long process of bottled up Arab and Muslim humiliation going back to the 60’s and 70’s. The lack of Democracy and freedom in all Arab and Muslim countries throughout these past decades has simply caused the pressure to finally blow the cork in everyone’s face. Not least America, on 9/11.

The problem is that America and the west, has until very recently, seen no reason to deal honestly with the concerns of the general Arab street. Of course, they have always dealt favourably with the majority of the dictators of the region for as long as they continued to serve Americas economic and geo-political interests at a time when the cold war and the communist threat was the priority for the pentagon. This all changed on 9/11 and I truly believe that America has finally woken up to the fact that it must finally deal positively with the Arabs and the issue of democracy and freedom. (very late in the day, I’m afraid)

However, Its very difficult to try to convince Arabs and Muslims of America's genuine intensions after decades of self interest, especially when nothing is seen to be done on the Palestinian-Israeli front.

Not long ago I was introduced to a Palestinian guy who was in his mid to late twenties. This guy was a refugee in Germany whom had in the passed 6 years travelled the whole of Europe without papers or any particular direction to his life. His story is very sad and typical of many Palestinians that I have met in Europe. Most see no hope for Palestine or in an eventual equitable settlement there.
Anyway, this was around the same time that Saddam Hussein was captured in that rat hole of his. So we got talking about life, politics and Saddam, etc……
The first thing this guy said to me is how much he admired Saddam Hussein, that he was a real Arab patriot whom was willing to stand up to both America and Israel. Naturally I was shocked and began to tell him about how I felt about Saddam and his mass graves and abuses of power etc. etc.. His reaction was not that untypical of many Arabs that I meet, he insisted that it was all lies and that it was all American fabrications and its fault. I quickly changed the subject ;-))
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This, i hope, give you an idea of how much we Arabs are willing to accept tyrany and dictatorship if only that tyrant or tyrans can promiss to regain our Arab Pride and honur and to wipe away the shame and humiliation of the past 50 years.
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Then, we got talking about Palestine and how that maybe Abu Mazin (who was wrestling with Arafat for the PLO leadership at the time) can bring about positive changes and help open a dialogue with the Israelis.
You know what this guy said to me –
‘ To hell with Abu Mazin. To hell with Arafat, and to hell with the PLO. To hell with all Arab leaders they are all hypocrites. The only people who can help us are the clerics. They are the only ones who can bring about the chaos that we need to destroy Israel and the world and to liberate Palestine’.

You know, those words still resonate in my ears to this day. What the Arabs want, What the Islamo-fascists want. What the Palestinians want. Is not Islam nor the Qur’an nor the rebirth of Mohammed nor even the return of the Caliphs of the olden days.
No, what they really want is to bring down America and world order. They want chaos because they see that as the only way to for them to liberate Palestine and regain their, all so important, false arabic 'Pride and honour'.
This is what’s going on in Iraq. The terrorists don’t care about the outcome in Iraq. They don’t care about Democracy, Saddam, the return of the Ba’ath party, or even the Islamaficaton of Iraq. All that is important is to create such chaos in the Middle East and the world that eventually the world will be forced to do something about solving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
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Coming back full circle; Yes, I do agree with you, we Muslims do need to put more effort into facing up to our clergy and the bad parts of our religion.
I thought that’s what I’ve tried to do with both of my ‘Islam’ posts. Many other Muslims around the world are also trying to do the same. So please give us some slack.

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And to answer the question that many have asked me, -- ‘ Why isn’t there more Muslim or Arab condemnation of the twisted form of Islam used by the terrorists to attack America, or Spain, or Bali, or Iraqis, in the name of Islam, or when we have demonstrations calling for an all out Jihad against America and its allies?’
The answer to that is simple - We can’t condemn Islam. Because deep down we know that its got nothing to do with Islam itself, and that its simply a weapon used in a war that many are happy to see continued. It all boils down to how much you believe that an open and continuing war with America, Israel and the west would serve the interests of the Arab and Muslim world. And how Islam can be used in this conflict.

I for one Don't, Many on the other hand do…….

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Time will only tell where the future will take us, but I’m sure that as long as the march of modernity continues then eventually all of this will disappear one day soon. The question is how soon? And this question depends not only on Muslims but also on the rest of the world. We Muslims do not live in a vacuum

There is no simple Black and White. Only shades of Grey.

Akbar.

I certainly didn't vote for Al-Sistani.........

Today, and only one day after the rushed visit by the American secretary of state C. Rice, we are visited by the Iranian Foreign minister Karazi.(What the Hell?)..
It seams that the Iranians have sent their lapdog to make sure that their interest continue to be served and to challenge Americas influence in Iraq. There is no doubt of the power struggle in Iraq and its not between the Kurds, Sunnis or Shiites, but between Iran and America.

Ja3fary is becoming a joke in Baghdad, every time there is a crises or an important decision to be made he runs to Najef to consult and get his orders from Sistani and his Iranian puppet masters.

Today, and only one day after C. Rice’s visited us, he keeps to form and heads down to see his boss Sistani. This begs the question about who is really in charge here in Iraq; Ja3fary or Sistani. I certainly don’t remember voting for Sistani on the 30th of January.

My relatives in Baghdad are leaving to Jordan. They have had enough of this circus. It makes me so angry that these politicians have caused the situation to get this f**ked. Up. How on earth can we hope to defeat the terrorism in Iraq if the Government is destroying all hope of a positive outcome in Iraq? Instead of calming the situation and giving true leadership they show weakness and sinicism.
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How can they expect the ordinary Iraqi citizen to stand up to the terrorists if he does not believe that the government that represents him is working for his benefit and self-interest. Alienating the population by this weak and shortsighted leadership sends the wrong message and makes the average citizen want to shut his doors or worst run away from the country.

No vision what so ever. We have become puppet in the hands of Al-Hakim and Al-Sistani. America don’t let this happen, Please

Saturday, May 14, 2005

At a cross road....

This past month has seen a major escalation in the conflict and the number of suicide attacks in Iraq. The situation seems to be getting out of control and the political dynamics and repercussions are starting to worry me very much. The general mood that I get from Baghdad is that the majority of the populous are very suspicious with the direction that Prime Minister Ja3fary's Shi3a backed government coalition is taking, and this is having a direct affect in further alienating the Sunni populous and in turn inflaming the conflict further.
Two major issues are at the forefront of this;

Firstly - It seems that the issue of De-Ba’athification, that the PM is insisting on, is causing much hardship and consternation amongst the lives of many Iraqis who (rightly) feel that this ‘witch hunt’ is unfair and tinged with a certain hint of revenge about it.

(The majority of civil service employees under Saddam were members of the Ba’ath party. Just as it were in Russia under Communism, you had no choice about it. For Ja3fary to turn around and sack everyone who had anything to do with the Ba’ath is a wrong policy and smacks of a witch hunt to me).

Just last week in Basra, the students at the university there were refusing to attend classes in support of their headmaster who was sacked for this same reason. By the way, this is happening all over Iraq to many low level civil servants with little fault other than they were once part of the Ba'ath.

Don’t get me wrong though, I am in full support of punishing those members of the Ba3th Party who are clearly known to have participated in the crimes of that political entity, But this whole-sale collective punishment is something very much akin to something Saddam might have done and I do not like it one bit.

We should take the example set by South Africa with the 'Truth and Reconciliation' commission. A witch-hunt against all Ba'ath members can only serve to alienate them and drive them towards the 'insurgent' elements in Iraq.

(PS. just in case you are thinking it…… No, I do not have any members in my family whom are directly affected by this de-ba'athification process;- ).

Also, an unfortunate and ugly pattern of favouratsm towards members of Dawa (the political entity that the PM belongs to) is starting to raise its ugly head. There are many stories coming out of Iraq of citizens applying to the Army, Police, Governmental ministries, and even other smaller civil service work, only to be turned away and asked to go get membership letters from the main current rulling political parties. These stories are very distressing and remind me of Saddam's dark Ba'ath days. It shows to me that these politicans have learned nothing from the past 30 years. They are simply repeating the same mistakes of the past. We must not allow this to happen in our new Iraq.

The second issue, and probably the most important, is the one regarding the make up and composition of the (so called) independent commission in charge of writing the New Iraqi Constitution. Since last year the politicians had promised us that the Constitutional commission would be completely independent and equally representative of all sectors of the Iraqi society. However, this it seems is not the case anymore. The Shi3at coalition is now insisting on placing their own candidates in this commission, and are demanding a weighted representation that mirrors their superior representation in the parliament. Taking very little account of the Sunni Population which consists of a third of the Iraqi population as a whole. They are suggesting to allocate 55 members to this commission with a break down of 28 for their Shi3a coalition, 15 for the Kurdish, 8 for Ayad Allawi’s coalition, 2 for the Christians and Assyrians, whilst only 2-3 for the Sunni population..
This would give too much power to the Sia3at coalition and would easily allow them to push through their Islamic ideas into the final draft of the permanent constitution

When Ja3fary’s (SISTANIE’S) coalition was first elected they promised that they would carefully take into considerations the concerns of the general Sunni population who were not able to vote in the elections as freely as the shi3a south. It seems that now they are fully in power and control of the government, they are easily willing to negate on their promises.

This kind of political short sightedness can only serve the objectivs of those who are fighting with the terrorist. And these issues are two of the main reasons behind the upsurge in terrorist attacks in this last three weeks.

The Sunni population must not be punished whole-sale for the actions of the few. This kind of tactic will only serve to alienate a very large and peaceful section of the Iraqi society. And will drive them into the hands of the extremist elements waging this war. Then we will surely see a civil war. It is Ja3fary's resonsbility as our PM to show himself as the leader of all of Iraq and not just his political or ethnic clique. This path only leads to Dictatorship and chaos.

Ja3fary and his backers must stop viewing the last January election as their opportunity for Shi3a power consolidation and start to truly take into account the needs and worries of the whole of the Iraqi society without any ethnic or religious exceptions.

Please, please, please, help me publicize this issue to as wide an audience as possible. I ask all other Iraqi Bloggers to publish their thoughts on this issue, even if you disagree with me. We must discuss this issue as urgently as possible. I truly believe that the writing of a fair and inclusive constitution would be the making of a free, prosperous and democratic Iraq, whilst any abuse of this opportunity would, without a shadow of a doubt in my mind, mean the inevitable break up of the country and our descent into the Abyss of civil war.

Akbar

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

ISLAM......

One of the hardest thing for any Muslim to do, whether liberal or otherwise, is to openly criticize Islam or the teachings of the prophet. Every Muslim born into the religion finds this very difficult. This is one of the main reasons why we continue to refuse to have an open and frank discussion about the relevance and direction of our religion in the modern world. From the day we are born we are culturally and religiously conditioned to obey, and not to question. We are told that to criticize would mean that we are 'Kafirs' (non believer), and thus would automatically go to hell. It is this particular aspect of Islam that has actually caused the most harm to the religion and has allowed it to be continually hijacked by the different religious sects, Caliphs, and now clerics for the purposes of the Islamo-politicisation of the religion.

One of the most intransigent aspects of Islam is the fact that the Qur'an (our holy book) was written with the explicit instruction that the passages contained within are the divine and holy words of 'Allah' (God), and that to question such words would bring eternal damnation to ones soul. This has caused a dilemma for Muslims for the passed one and a half thousand years. And it has meant that Islam, as a religion, finds it difficult to adapt to the changing nature of civilisation and the incremental modernity that we as a human race continue to strive for.

One of the most important things that people (whether for or against Islam), continually fail to recognize is the historical context in which our prophet Mohamed (peace be upon him) conceived the Qur'an and the Islamic faith. Before Islam, the Arabs and the people of the Middle East lived a nomadic existence. Tribes, worshipping many gods, savagely competed between each other for wealth, land and power. Slavery, poverty, infanticide, murder, greed, (You name it) were all common and generally acceptable practices in their society. Mohamed (pbuh), being a well traveled merchant visiting many lands, was no doubt influenced by the teaching of people in the lands of Judea (Christianity and Judaism) and saw the necessity to bring back with him the teaching of these religions.

Through the Qur'an, he was able to convert many of his people to a way of life that was very civilized, relative to the 5th century AC. He introduced a way of life that was peaceful, ordered, and serene, this is why it is called Islam (to surrender ones self to god's will). He managed to emancipate slavery, introduce charity and social responsibility, the 10 commandments, and bring order to a people who were crying out for such a huge leap forward in social order and civility.

The Qur'an, read in its Arabic form, is an amazingly powerful piece of prose. Its words resonate and flow in a poetic manner that is almost hypnotic. I challenge anyone to read one of its early passages (Even in English) without failing to be impressed or moved by its linguistic mastery. And its a hundred times more powerful in its original Arabic language.

Unfortunately It is marred by its later passages which advocates war and jihad. However, these are the passages that many fail to view in their historic context, and which are abused today by the Wahhabists, whom in turn, use them to justify their Jihadist political agenda. I'm sure that if the prophet were to be alive today, he would have reconsidered including these passages in the form they finally appear to us, 1500 years hence after.
When the prophet Mohamed (pbuh) wrote those passages advocating jihad, he and his followers were at war with the powerful tribes of the Middle East (many of them Jewish by the way), which had united against him and were determined to eradicate him and his followers. Islam's emancipation cry was a direct challenge to the power and influence of these tribes, and they were determined to get rid of this upstart and his new religion as expediently as possible. This is very much analogous to the persecution of Jesus Christ and his followers only 500 years earlier.

This is the main reason behind the passages relating to jihad in the Qur'an, and it has nothing to do with the Islamafication of the world, that many since try to associate to them.
After the death of the prophet, and through the past 1500 years, his massage of peace and order has been continuously diluted and highjacked by consecutive Caliphs, Mullahs, Princes, Presidents, and lately the wahhabist Clerics in order to serve their political agendas. This has done, and continues to do, great damage to the true message of Islam as he first intended it to be.
I believe that all of this stems directly from Mohamed's (pbuh) unknowing mistake of writing the Qur'an as God's own divine recital to him. This was probably necessary for his time, but it is an unfortunate inheritance we live with today.

Most of the Muslims who advocate Jihad, use short sections of these passages to justify any point or action they deem necessary in order to support their cause. And they fiercely rebuff any criticism with the notion that these Qur'anic words are the words of god himself and thus are indivisible and nonnegotiable in meaning and context. And they immediately label anyone, who dares to question this, as a 'Kafir' (unbelievers),
This is the dilemma that millions of muslims all around the world face every single day; Do you criticize the status quo and consequently risk alienation rejection and even potential death? Or do you just shut up and wait for nature to take its course and let the passage of time bring the gradual inevitable change?

It is also interesting to point out, that Islam is facing the same dilemma that Christianity had faced in the Middle-Ages. Christianity faced its worst period of upheaval in the middle ages with the crusades and inquisitions That was a time when the state and the religious authority of the time (Kings and Popes) refused any criticism and punished anyone who questioned the 'godliness' of their command and power. They were ruthless in dishing out punishment and death to all who dared to oppose the status quo. This, in my opinion, is very analogous to the fanatical nature of Wahhabism that has spread into Islam this passed century.

The crimes perpetrated against humanity in the name of Christianity were just as savage as the ones we see today perpetrated in the name of Islam. I believe that it is time for all Muslims and non-Muslims alike, to stand back and have a frank discussion about the role of religion (any religion) in modern day society, and how best to return religion to its intended roots. Religion was always meant to serve the people and not for the people to serve religion.

Every religion that I know off (Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, etc...) were all first conceived as a vessel for society to achieve higher social enlightenment and civic order. It is a sad fact that they are banded around today as some kind of 'sport clubs' that we are all meant to support, and to fanatically compete against each other with.

This has been a long post for me and I would like to write more. However, this is enough for now. I hope that many of you out there will find this post informative and thought provoking. Whilst I'm sure many others will, no doubt, take this opportunity to 'flame me' for their own politically inspired view points; (don't bother). I only ask you to go out there and read more about the history of Islam before you make any misinformed rash judgments. I also urge any Muslims who might read this to take a moment and reflect on what I have just written.

I wrote this post because I was very insulted by certain people who flippantly brand Islam as an evil religion simply because of the actions of a minority group of 'Muslims' who in turn also do not understand what Islam is all about. There is no evil in religion. There is however evil in the actions of Mankind.

Peace be upon you all.

Akbar.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Iraq is no Vietnam....

It annoys me to read well-respected commentators take the easy way out when discussing the terror structure and its motivations in Iraq. I have read on so many occasions how Iraq is somehow the new Vietnam and that the terrorists are somehow comparable in voracity and determination to the Vietcong. The fact of the matter is that Iraq is in no way another Vietnam. The dynamic and motivations of the ‘resistance’ in Iraq is driven solely by greed and the lure of money, where as the Vietcong were driven by the powerful ideology of communism in which the Vietnamese populous, in general, were willing to adopt and die for.

One of the major problems, facing Iraq at the moment, is the intransigent homegrown criminal element. Decades of the systematic fracture in Iraqi civil society coupled with vast current unemployment levels and three decades of bloody wars, has left thousands of young Iraqi men (from every creed and faction) with a very strong tendency and disposition towards criminality and criminal self interest.

Unlike many other nations around the world, the notion of citizenship and social obligation in the Iraqi society is nowadays almost non-existent. This is particularly evident and true in the countryside, where loyalty to your clan and creed is still strongly traditionally observed. (Please read a post by Ali at Iraq the Model about the role of clansmanship in Iraqi history and civil society),

Many of these disillusioned men are more than willing to accept payments or bribes in order to help in carrying out operations in which other innocent Iraqis may die as a result of. For these individuals, (and there are many), the death of another human being, Iraqi or otherwise bares little importance as long as the financial incentive is high enough. It is not some Islamo-fascist Ideology that drives this terrorist, nor is it a simply a Ba'athist instigated fight back to regain lost control, but simply the economic lure of the all powerful US dollar.

It is this group that also represents the logistical backbone of the terrorist structure in Iraq. These individuals are simply ‘hired soldiers of fortune’ and they include all of the intransigent Ba’athist and Saddamite remnants, as well as opportunist, that view this war as both an opportunity for payback and a last chance to make substantial financial gains. Channelling finances from their paymaster in Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia, (with each country having its own distinct agenda in seeing Iraq fail), they continue to provide shelter, weapons, and logistical backing to the terrorist front lines. And whilst fanatical wahhabist, from other arab states,(whom form the majority of the front line 'cannon fodder') are sent to carry out their misguided Jihadist suicide operations, these Iraqis prefer to stay in the background getting fat of the payment they receive. For them the continuation of this war represents a golden opportunity to get paid, big time, from the intelligence services of Syria or Iran, and the dumb Arab Sheiks who have nothing better to do with their money than to send it to iraq to get burnt.

Oddly enough, It is this economic nature of the terrorist campaign that offers me hope for a quick and decisive end to this conflict. Once the governmental power vacume is finally filled and it becomes clear that supporting economic development and growth is potentially alot more profittable to these individuals and Iraqis as a whole, we will see a subsantial decline in all terrorist activity.

The new Iraqi government should spare no effort in combating and eliminating this group as quickly as possible. This can be achieved through a combination of political, social, and military strategy that makes clear that we as iraqies will no longer tolerate their activities. Once this group sees that its financial interests are finally being threatened then we will see a dramatic decline in terrorist activity and the beginning of the end to this ugly terrorist campaign.