Iraq carnage 88.
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Iraqi Ambassador to the United States Samir Sumaidaie stressed on Tuesday that the war in Iraq is a war of "ideas, not only a war of bullets and bombs" - and a war that the United States and its allies may very well lose.
"There is a distinct risk that people who are fielding suicide bombers .. are going to win the battle against the single superpower of the world," said Sumaidaie. "They are bending the will of the United States and possibly driving it out."
Speaking at a panel discussion organized and held by the United States Institute of Peace, the ambassador explained that much of the violence in Iraq stems from the dangerous ideologies to which many of the suicide bombers and insurgents subscribe, such as the belief that Islam as a religion is "under attack" from the West.
The majority of suicide bombings are perpetrated against Iraqi civilians, not members of the coalition forces. Yet many Iraqis feel hostile toward the US and apathetic - if not supportive - toward the insurgents. Sumaidaie explained that the terrorists are, in part, successful in finding supporters because of the notion that the US and those working with it are an occupying force. This characterization provides "a ready-made recruiting tool for suicide bombers," said the ambassador.
"We have got to remove that label [of occupation] and to take the steam out of the engine of terrorism by removing the justification and attacking its ideology," he continued. "Unless we do that, more suicide bombers will be generated - and they will not only be generated for Iraq. This production line is targeted for the whole of the Western world."
Sumaidaie also said that in the short term, the media must play an integral role in combating flawed ideology and conspiracy theories in the Arab world. He called on Arab media outlets to encourage "introspective and thoughtful debate about where the Islamic world should be moving toward."
Sumaidaie criticized some in the Arab media for spreading such beliefs, going as far as to say that Al-Jazeera actively incites violence and "almost promotes and glorifies suicide bombings." When it comes to long-term action, the ambassador remarked, education is pivotal in preventing the spread of errant information and the formation of dangerous ideologies. He said that children in many Arab countries are subject to a rigorous education regimen to memorize the Koran, and at the end of this process, the child is "almost an automaton" and very easy to manipulate. According to Sumaidaie, one need only cite certain verses in the Koran to trigger a certain pattern of behavior - in this case, terrorist activity.
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