Iraq: December 22, 2004

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The center of Sunni resistance has moved Fallujah, and surrounding areas, to Sunni Arab neighborhoods in the northern city of Mosul. Up there, the Sunni Arabs have always been feisty, because many of the Sunni Arabs were moved up there over the last few decades to displace the Kurds who have been there for centuries. Mosul was to be a Sunni Arab city that would help anchor Arab control of otherwise Kurdish northern Iraq, and insure that the oil up there remained under Arab, not Kurdish, control. The fighting in Mosul is more personal, more Iraqi versus Iraqi, or Kurd versus Sunni Arab. While the Kurds are only about twenty percent of the population, they comprise a higher proportion of the Iraqi police and soldiers, especially in places like Mosul.

There are now 70,000 Iraqi police on duty and 50,000 army troops. The Iraq army will have 70 battalions operational by February. One of these will be a mechanized battalion. The rest of the battalions are infantry, and effective officers and NCOs are still a problem. The Iraqi military tradition does not include a high degree of professionalism among officers and NCOs. Saddam managed to get a lot of reliable officers for his Republican Guard, but few of them can be trusted to work for the new army. So the military leadership is being built up from scratch. This is a trial and error proposition. Some battalions are reliable because of good leadership, many others are not. 

Moreover, those Iraqis identified as having good military leadership skills are also in demand for para-military units. There are six public order battalions (the riot police), a special police regiment (for keeping order in very dangerous areas), four commando battalions (one of these did very well in Fallujah) and nine SWAT teams, distributed all over the country for local police work. 


 

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