Saturday, May 07, 2005

This isn't good 
The police force in Ramadi, apparently, was defeated and largely disbanded prior to the elections. Maybe Chief Jarda'an, with all his flaws, was the only guy who could have held it together.

At any rate, since police can no longer be recruited from around Ramadi, apparently, the government is bringing in Shi'ites from the south to take over the policing job.

But Ramadi has no functioning local security force. Fearful of or complicit with insurgents, it disbanded before January's national elections and now consists of a handful of traffic officers. As a result, hundreds of predominantly Shiite forces -- including ad hoc militia groups such as the Defenders of Baghdad -- are flowing into Ramadi as part of the latest strategy by Iraq's central government and the U.S. military to stem insurgent violence here.

Outside troops have been dispatched to trouble spots throughout Iraq in a bid to keep a lid on violence in areas where insurgent death threats have rendered the local police ineffective. As a short-term counterinsurgency strategy, such forces have several advantages. First, they and their families are less subject to intimidation than when the forces are in their own area. Also, as Iraqis, they are far more familiar with the territory and less likely to be viewed as occupiers than are U.S. troops.

Yet by pitting Iraqis from different religious sects, ethnic groups and tribes against each other, the strategy also aggravates the underlying fault lines of Iraqi society, heightening the prospect of civil strife, U.S. military analysts said.

Now, I think it's easy to overstate the significance of this. Despite the brutal devastation and anti-Shiite pogroms of Saddam's regime, the differences between the two peoples now are not so great as those that separate, say, Rangers and Celtics fans in the old country.

I think Shiite police officers in a Sunni town is less problematic than Sunni police officers in a Shiite town. And what the Sunnis are really afraid of and really resent isn't the Shia, but the perception of Iranian influence. And the only f***ers those people hate MORE than the Americans are the f***ing Iranians!

They aren't totally alien to one another. But it's not good to learn that the situation in Ramadi has deteriorated to the point that the police force there has essentially been defeated. I believe, and have believed from the start, that the war will be won or lost, ultimately, by the Iraqi security forces. And they have their work cut out for them in Ramadi.

And that job is only going to be that much harder if Shia cops have to overcome ethnic suspicions in order to convert Sunni detainees into Sunni stool pigeons.

It would have been better if, say, Tikrit and Ramadi had simply swapped police forces before this happened. Ultimately, Sunni will have to be able to police Sunni, if this is to work.

I'm not sure about the Post's claim that the insurgents "blew up all but one of Ramadi's police stations, the mayor's office and other government buildings."

As far as I know, the mayor's center still stands.

Maybe someone who's been there since last winter can write in to confirm?


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Semper Fi!

Bill Adams
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