Iraq: Things You Cannot Do

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August 10, 2006: Leadership, or lack of it, continues to be the biggest problem with the Iraqi army and police forces. Over the past three years, new leadership had to be recruited and trained. For decades, army and police commanders were selected primarily because of their loyalty to Saddam, and because they were Sunni Arabs. The majority of those guys could not be trusted to work in the new army and police force. That, in fact, was the main reason for disbanding the Iraqi armed forces in early 2003.
The new leaders often lacked knowledge, as well as experience. But another thing often lacking was courage, and ethics. Many of these new officers backed off when confronted by Sunni Arab gangs and terrorist groups, which were often led by former officers of Saddam's army, police or secret police. To make matters worse, some twenty percent of the 26 special police battalions are believed to be led by Shia Arab commanders dedicated to the extermination of Iraqi Sunni Arabs. While that attitude is shared by many Iraqis, these police commanders have been acting on it, allowing their highly trained police commandos to function as death squads. American advisor teams with Iraqi police and army units are reporting who is naughty and who is nice, and the Americans are pressing the Iraqi government to promote and dismiss accordingly. But some of the bad guys have well-placed mentors. Getting well-connected bad apples removed is proving difficult, as these fellows were selected more for their loyalty than their military or policing skills. Welcome to the Middle East.
August 5, 2006: More Iranian and Turkish troops are being spotted inside Iraq. Up north, the Kurds, who are virtually autonomous up there, fear an invasion by at least one division of Turks, who are seeking separatist PKK terrorists who have camps in northern Iraq, but do their dirty work across the border in Kurdish areas of eastern Turkey. So far, the Kurdish soldiers in northern Iraq have been content to stay out of the way of the Turks. The Kurds complain to the Americans, but the Americans tell them they should crack down on PKK. However, the idea of a "Greater Kurdistan", which is what the PKK is fighting for, is too popular with most Kurds. So attacks against PKK by Kurdish soldiers or police is a no-no. Taking on the Turkish army is forbidden as well. Down south, more and more Iranian soldiers are being captured. These guys are in civilian clothes, but they are in Iraq to advise and encourage Islamic conservative Shias, and to help carry out attacks against Sunni Arabs and Americans, two groups much hated by Iranian Islamic radicals.

 

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