Michael Totten reports on The Future of Iraq, Part IV
We were in the predominantly Sunni neighborhood of Adhamiyah. It was a stronghold of support for Saddam Hussein’s government, and a stronghold of support for Al Qaeda more recently. Iraq’s Sunni Arabs, who make up around 15-20 percent of the country’s population, are by the far the most anti-American. Yet Adhamiyah appeared, on the surface at least, to be no more hostile to Americans than Iraqi Kurdistan.
I needed help from reliable straight-shooting Iraqis to see the truth behind the façade. I can’t know if everything Sayid told me was true, but what he told me was a lot more interesting and substantial than the “America good” boilerplate I often heard from random civilians.
What I wanted from Sayid was a glimpse into the Iraqi psyche, which he delivered. He also shared with me his vision of Iraq’s future. And I should warn you that his vision is not pretty. (For optimistic assessments, see The Future of Iraq Part I and The Future of Iraq Part II.)
Four of us sat on couches in his living room – me, Sergeant Franklin, Lieutenant Eric Kuylman, and our Iraqi interpreter “Tom.” We didn’t need to bring Tom with us, though. Sayid spoke near-perfect English.
I’m going to skip the exposition and switch to interview mode. Our conversation speaks for itself.
MJT: They say you’re a good guy to talk to because you give straight answers. It’s hard to get straight answers in Iraq.
MJT: Can you explain to me why that is? I mean, I have an idea why, but I’m sure you understand it better than I do.
Sayid: It’s the formula of our community. There are many kinds of people. I will give you a straight answer, but it’s Iraqi like me.
Just 20 percent of our people are good. 80 percent are bad. You should know that….