Monday, October 03, 2005

Iraq, Bali: Muslims Killing Muslims

The insurgency in Iraq and the terror attacks in Bali have something in common. Both are prime examples of Muslim extremists killing moderate Muslims in their attempt to remake the world in their own image. Terrorist groups in both nations rely heavily on suicide bombings in dense civilian locations, something which has prompted Human Rights Watch to call the Iraqi insurgency "war criminals". (Boston Globe: Insurgent groups accused of war crimes).

The human rights group is often critical of US actions, but has now turned its attention on those in Iraq that routinely target Iraqi civilians. As a reminder, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has declared an all-out war on Shiites and has killed at least 1345 people (mostly civilians) in Shiite towns. Bombings last week killed 110 people including 22 women and children.

The insurgency is taking its toll, but not in a way al-Zarqawi would prefer. According to Human Rights Watch director in the Middle East Sarah Leah Whitson, ''People we have spoken with in the Middle East are increasingly repulsed by the behavior of insurgent groups in Iraq, even if they support a withdrawal of US troops." The group claims that popular support for the insurgency is diminishing in the Arab world, thanks to the indiscriminate attacks against mostly Muslim civilians.

What the insurgency in Iraq and the attacks in Bali highlight is a war, not against the US, but against any government not run by Muslim extremists. Indonesia is overwhelmingly Muslim, yet they have repeatedly been the target of terror attacks by extremists seeking to put their own stamp on the government. The same is true in Iraq. The battle there is not to drive the US out, but rather to ensure an extremist government takes over.

The Arab world needs to recognize that we share a common enemy. These terrorist groups are not content with Muslim run governments. They seek an extreme form of Islam that is not practiced by the overwhelming majority of Muslims world-wide. To these terrorist groups, the moderate Muslim is as much an enemy as is the US or Israel. Anyone that does not believe that need look no further than Bali and Iraq for proof. It's not westerners dying at the hands of suicide bombers in those countries; the deaths are largely Muslim civilians. (I'm sure someone will point out the 1900+ US soldiers that have died in Iraq in the last 3 years. Before you do, keep in mind that US death totals pale in comparison to the number of civilians killed by the insurgents in just one year.)

The Arab world has an enemy festering in their midst, and that enemy is not the US. That enemy is Islamic Extremism, bubbling just beneath the surface in virtually every country in the world. Governments in Arab nations are as much a target for these extremists as are non-Arab governments. When will the Arab world wake up and recognize that we have a common enemy? Their support in this war against extremists would be most welcome.


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