Iraq: April 15, 2005

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Theres increasing tension between the new Iraqi police and the private security personnel hired by businesses and NGOs. U.S. military commanders seem to be quietly siding with the Iraqi police. Some of the security folks are apparently wannabe storm troopers, and there have been ugly incidents between them and Iraqi civilians, officials, police, and even American troops. When these guys do something stupid as seems to have occurred on a number of occasions the US forces invariably get blamed, certainly by the Iraqi people, who may not be able to distinguish between the private muscle and real soldiers. The Iraqi police are becoming a lot more effective in keeping the peace, and that includes reining in all manner of private militias and security forces.. 

The Iraqi police have changed their image, for the better, from the one they have had for decades. Long considered a corrupt force with little real power, and barely able to deal with low level crime, the cops are now regarded as brave front line fighters in a war against terrorism. Despite the continued attacks on the police, there is no shortage of volunteers for police jobs. The policemen make a point of reminding reporters that they consider their jobs as essential if Iraqi is to remain free. The terrorist groups initially attacked the police to scare off Iraqis from joining, and scare the police away from terrorist investigations. That worked in some largely Sunni Arab areas, but only temporarily. The terrorists were not able to bring safe streets to the areas they drove the police from. When American troops cleared these towns and brought the police back, the cops came to stay, and maintained more order than the gangs could. Public attitudes towards the police are a lot more positive than they have ever been in memory. The terrorist attacks against police  are now seen as acts of war, and the police are fighting back with increasing effectiveness. Neighborhoods and villages that had hosted terrorist bases for over year have suddenly been raided by Iraqi police and put out of business. 

Iraq is al Qaeda's main battleground at the moment, and the terrorist's are losing. The suicide bombs and roadside bombs kill mainly Iraqi civilians, and often al Qaeda very publicly takes credit for bombings that murder many innocents. This has consequences. Fewer Iraqis are volunteering to fight for al Qaeda, and more are lining to fight against them. How long will this slaughter go on? It's been happening less often in the last few months, and American commanders are debating how many fewer U.S. troops will be sent to Iraq next year, not whether  there will be fewer. Of course, this was the plan in the Summer of 2003, before the Sunni Arabs and al Qaeda decided to keep fighting for control. But at the moment, the hard core Islamic radicals are expected to keep fighting to the death, meaning that American troops may only be reduced 20-30 percent a year over the next few years. More importantly, American casualties will keep going down as well. Iraq will replace Korea as the most disliked overseas posting. At least in Korea you have beers and broads. In Iraq all you have is sand, heat and roadside bombs. 

 

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