Iraq: August 14, 2005

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In the wake of attacks on American and Iraqi troops, there are an increasing number of arrests, and interrogations. This has revealed that the men involved in building, planting and setting off roadside bombs are often locals. Local people know who the bombers are. These bombs often kill or injure civilian bystanders. In the past, there was really no one to complain to about this. But over the last year, more Iraqi police have hit the streets, gained control of the streets, and started taking complaints, and making arrests. For example, police have arrested suspects in the attacks that killed  twenty American troops  earlier this month (with a bombing and an ambush). The bombers have their fans, but most Iraqis see the bombers and their paymasters as the last vestige as Saddam's hated government. Given a chance, most Iraqis, even Sunni Arabs, will turn on Saddam's killers, or al Qaeda terrorists. While foreign media likes to describe these guys as "freedom fighters," Iraqis know better (so do most of the foreign journalists, but that's another story.) Sunni Arab and al Qaeda terrorists aren't interested in freedom, but the restoration of  tyranny in Iraq. The police take advantage of this to generate tips. The suspects often live openly in the area, and are easy to find and arrest. The gangs often declare war on the local cops when these arrests take place. But it's too late for that to work. The Iraqi cops have learned. They fortify their police stations, and practice defense drills. It's been nearly a year since a gang has been able to attack and capture a police station. The cops know how to call in reinforcements, including American ground troops and air support. In response, the gangs increasingly turn to murdering and kidnapping individual police. But this sometimes backfires when the cops go after relatives of the criminals. This is an old Middle Eastern practice. Kill a cop, and the police will lock up your mother until you turn yourself in. The outlaws are at a big disadvantage once the police come to town, build police stations that cannot be captured, and establish the capability to arrest people. Law and order changes the way the war is being fought. The gangsters are increasingly making desperate and spectacular attacks with bombs and ambushes, failing to shake the cops, and then fleeing to the shrinking number of towns without police stations. The Iraqi police are taking more casualties than the Americans, but the cops are winning the war, one neighborhood at a time. 

 

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