Iraq: Police Story

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October 10, 2007: The major problem with the police and army remains leadership. It's no secret (although widely ignored back in the U.S.) that in 2003, the new Iraqi government had to start with only about ten percent of the experienced military and police leaders it needed to run the security forces (army and police). Saddam had controlled the country by allowing Sunni Arabs (about 20 percent of the population back then) to monopolize leadership positions in the army and police (and government in general). Their main job was to keep the majority (Kurds and Shia Arabs) under control. The Baath party (which Saddam had led for decades, and which was really in charge of the government) survived the fall of Saddams army and government in early 2003, and fought on. The new Iraq government has had to create a new force of army and police leaders from scratch. This normally takes decades, but the new government has not got that kind of time. As a result, the growth of the new army and police force has been accompanied by rapid turnover in the ranks of commanders. It's not just a matter of pulling the incompetent ones and giving another guy a chance, there's also the problem with corrupt, or politically connected, commanders. These guys are very difficult to get rid of, partly because "corrupt" and "politically connected" tends to go together. The military and police are getting better, but only about half the security forces are effective and reliable to a useful degree. Moreover, as the upgrading of the police continues, many Shia political groups, used to controlling police commanders, and cops in general, will resist. This battle is already underway, and expect to see more mass arrests of police commanders, and dismissals of dirty, or at least disloyal, policemen.

The surge campaign has crippled the Islamic terrorist organizations, with attacks down by nearly 40 percent compared to a year ago. Attacks are down by over 80 percent in Anbar province (Western Iraq.) Much of this is due to more numerous, and effective, attacks on the terrorist organization (safe houses, cash holdings, weapons storage sites, key people). The cash has been the key factor, because, even though half the Sunni Arabs have been driven out of the country since 2003, there are still plenty of Sunni Arabs willing to keep killing. Sunni Arab terror will probably continue for years, if not decades. The Sunni Arabs are really not happy about giving up the power they have had for centuries. Many Shia Arab leaders, and most Shia Arabs in general, would just like to drive all the Sunni Arabs out of the country. But this is recognized as politically difficult to do. The international outcry would be bothersome, and those Sunni Arabs in exile would still provide an endless supply of anti-Iraq terrorists. There are no easy solutions in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, al Qaeda has shifted tactics, using its dwindling forces to carry out an assassination campaign against the Sunni Arab tribes that have joined the government. This has scared a lot of Sunni Arab leaders, but, overall, it has made more Sunni Arabs hostile to al Qaeda. There is now a sharp division between Islamic terrorists who support global jihad against the infidels (non-Moslems), and the Islamic terrorists who want a religious dictatorship in Iraq, run by Sunni Arabs.

The Blackwater saga continues, with Iraqi politicians calling for compensation for those killed by Blackwater security guards. Compensation of $8 million per civilian killed. Most of that money, if paid, would be diverted by the politicians, and that's the point of the exercise. The Iraqis think they have a shot a some kind of payoff, and one higher than the few thousand dollars U.S. forces pay for civilians killed in the crossfire. Blackwater guard do kill civilians, mainly because terrorists use civilians as shields, to get close to their target. Most Iraqis know to keep their distance from vulnerable (to terrorist attack) targets. In turn, the Blackwater guards, and American troops, treat any civilian vehicle getting too close, and ignoring warnings to back off, as hostile, and to open fire. As a result, the terrorists rarely try to get close to targets while pretending to be a civilian vehicle. While terrorists can't get close to Blackwater, that hasn't stopped corrupt Iraqi politicians looking for another payoff.

 

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