Iraq: November 7, 2004

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Sunni Arab gunmen made several attacks on police in the Sunni Arab city of Samarra. American and Iraqi troops cleared the town of Sunni Arab gangs last month, and the attacks this weekend are an attempt to demoralize, and drive out, the Iraqi police that now occupy the city. Some thirty Iraqi policemen have been killed, and over a hundred wounded, so far. As is usually the case, an unspecified number of Iraqi police then deserted their posts in the face of these attacks. The Sunni Arab gangs, staffed by the veterans of Saddam's secret police and elite military units (which were almost exclusively Sunni Arab), have an edge over the police and army, which are starved for experienced officers (few Shia Arabs or Kurds having any experience in that area), and are thus less effective than their pro-Saddam opponents. The coalition is testing Shia Arab and Kurdish police and army officers the hard way, in combat. Many of these inexperienced officers fail, but those who have the right stuff are forming the core of a battle tested army and national police force.

 

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