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The Sunni Heartland

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Rage... and a Deep Sense of Loss

Munther Kerbeit invites us to a traditional meal: steaming plates of rice and boiled lamb, stewed vegetables and fresh bread. He says there was no war in the province, the generals surrendered after Baghdad fell. There was relief for many in Anbar province when Saddam was finally gone.

photo: Tom Bullock

But the American bombing shocked and angered the surviving members of the Kerbeit family - whatever good will they had there for their American liberators was buried in the family compound.

"America has made a big mistake in coming over here and occupying it," declares Kerbeit. "The opposition will rise to an extreme level - that they will not believe it...They'd better get out of this country, or else they will see hell."

In this conservative corner of Iraq, with a Sunni Arab population already suspicious of American intentions, the armed resistance is not in support of Saddam, but has grown out of a deep sense of loss, loss of power, loss of life says Peter Galbraith. Galbraith, a professor at the National War College, has long experience in Iraqi and was in Baghdad after the war.

"I think the extent of the insurgency and the support it has is greater than it might have been," he explains, "and I think that is, in part, the consequence of very poor planning that was made for the post war."

"We had disenfranchised twenty percent of Iraq's population," says Baer, "completely removed all power...you know, when we hit this house - and all the other targets we've been hitting in the Sunni heartland - we've alienated twenty percent of the population. Twenty percent of the people can carry on guerilla warfare for a long time."

Next: Resentment grows in Falluja

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