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A progress report - the war isn't over - I'm home from Iraq, but will forever feel a connection to that land. Looking back I'm in awe of the resilience and progress of the Iraqi people; in the earliest days of my tour an event like the one Bill Faith alerted me to seemed like the sort of thing that was years from being possible.
I?d just finished reading your ?Failure Stew? post, which included the quoted headline ?Top Iraq Rebels Elude Intensified U.S. Raids," when I got an email from Haider about a couple that got caught...?The Iraqi Government announced the arrest of two former high-ranking individuals from Saddam?s secret police (Mukhabarat). The Iraqi security forces arrested Sabah Noory and Riadh Noory in Baghdad and charged them with terrorist attacks in and around Baghdad and further charged them with supplying and training terrorists in Felujah as well as providing them with weapons?.
When Saddam?s secret police caught some one, they did not arrest them nor did they charge them. They killed them on the spot, or took them to be tortured or brought the victim?s family to be tortured in front of them or just killed all but one as an example. Now these same former criminals and current terrorist are given the full benefit of the law. Arrested, charged and interrogated under Red Cross supervision.
There's more at Bill's, of course. And while that "full benefit of the law" is true, there are a few incidents where the police aren't readily available. That doesn't always favor the terrorists though - in fact it could be their worst nightmare. Take for instance this report about a crowd of Iraqis who noticed a likely suicide bomber in their midst and didn't take time to call the Red Cross:A CROWD of Shiite Muslims marking a religious ceremony spotted a suspected suicide bomber amongst them and, fearing he might blow himself up, beat the man to death, Iraqi police said today.
The incident occurred in the western Baghdad neighbourhood of Bayaa, a largely Shiite district, where residents were celebrating Ashura, a religious ritual honouring the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed.
The police said the crowd spied a man mingling amongst them who appeared to be wearing a vest strapped with explosives, like those used in suicide bombings.
"They attacked him and beat the man to death," a police source said, adding that security forces had been powerless to prevent the mass onslaught. It was not clear if the man had actually been planning a suicide attack.
The times they are a changin' in Iraq. But rest assured one thing hasn't changed - Reuters won't make any effort to distinguish between this sort of violence and the carnage the bomber could have created. All violence is bad, after all.
The days of vigilante justice may be brief too, as more Iraqi police officers take the streets:ADMIRING a man-sized cardboard target he had just perforated with bullets, Nasir, 18, said: ?If anyone tries to kill me now, I?ll kill them first.?
In three days time he will find out if his confidence is well placed, when together with 264 fellow police officers he returns to Samarra in the heart of the Sunni Triangle, having completed a two-week survival and weapons training course with US troops in Tikrit.
Under-equipped and under-trained the beleaguered Iraqi police were routed from Samarra by insurgents last autumn. A token force was reinserted in December, but found itself unable to conduct the simplest patrol. ?I?ve lost so many friends in the police I?ve lost count,? Nasir said. ?The worst time was during the fighting with the Mujahidin in the autumn. Some of us were shot by the insurgents then the Americans bombed our police station by mistake and killed 16 more.?
Casualties amongst the Iraqi police have been phenomenal. Between January and September last year 750 officers were killed on duty, while hundreds more police recruits were killed by suicide bombings. The figures from September to the present are not available, but coalition insiders believe at least 500 more have died.
But the tide is turning. And the US is still at work too:U.S. raids netted 53 suspected insurgents across Iraq on Tuesday, as U.S. and Iraqi forces sought to end the frequent bombings and ambushes taking a high toll on Iraqi security forces.
U.S. and Iraqi troops swept through Latifiyah, 25 miles south of Baghdad. They detained 35 suspected insurgents, a spokesman for Iraqi national guard forces in the area told the Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
West of Baghdad, the 256th Infantry Brigade from the Louisiana National Guard detained 10 suspects during a four-hour operation that concluded before dawn Tuesday, U.S. Central Command said in a statement. Soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division brought in three suspects after raids in central Baghdad just before midnight Tuesday.
That sort of thing has been going on for months - but what's new is that a major American media organization actually reported a coalition success. This was the first time I was able to provide links to coverage like that from somewhere other than the CENTCOM home page - so maybe the tide is turning in another front of the war on terror too.
Meanwhile the Washington Times reports the priorities of the man likely to be Iraq's first elected prime minister.Soft-spoken Shi'ite leader Ibrahim al-Jaafari emerged yesterday as the top contender to be Iraq's first freely elected prime minister, having promised an all-inclusive government whose first priority will be to quash the insurgency.
"The Iraqi people are varied, and the government should reflect that variety," the Dawa party leader recently told The Washington Times, reaching out to Shi'ites, Sunnis, Kurds, and Christians and other non-Muslim groups.
Leaders of the Shi'ite-led coalition that won Iraq's Jan. 30 elections agreed in principle yesterday that Mr. al-Jaafari would be its candidate to serve as the nation's chief executive.
The coalition still will have to strike a deal with other parties to secure the two-thirds majority needed to name a government, but analysts saw little chance that it would be denied its choice of prime minister.
Interviewed last week at his offices in Baghdad's fortified green zone, Mr. al-Jaafari said the nation's Sunni minority would be represented in the new parliament, but he drew the line at those thought to be behind the bloody insurgency.
"Those who did not participate in the elections but do not kill, we must win them over and open the door of government, and they will participate and help us in writing the constitution," he said.
"Others, if they committed criminal acts, we should deal with them by law," said Mr. al-Jaafari, a gray-bearded 58-year-old physician who spent most of the 1980s as an exile in Iran and Britain.
"Nothing can be done without security," he said. "We will surround the insurgents and use intelligence and new techniques to deal with them."
The new prime minister also faces the tricky question of when to ask the U.S. forces to leave " one of the Sunni insurgents' major demands.
"There is no thinking right now of troops leaving," Mr. al-Musawi said. "We believe we still need them. When we are able to build our institutions, I think there will be another discussion about it."
As for the insurgents - their story is being told too. But in another first here's a report indicating they might not be as popular or successful as many would have you believe:An increase in truck hijackings, carjackings and kidnappings around the southern approaches to Baghdad suggests to some intelligence officials that insurgents are running out of money.
Soldiers on the front lines also believe that militants are strapped for cash and turning to crime to pay for the insurgency.
Many criminal ambushes are occurring just south of Baghdad as vehicles, particularly gasoline trucks, head toward the capital. One hot spot for hijackings is the major roadway that runs between Baghdad and the town of Salman Pak, where officials suspect much of the stolen fuel and other goods end up.
Salman Pak is a wealthy Sunni town that Lt. Bryan Suits describes as "the Saddam regime's Palm Beach," and one that has little American presence. He said the highway from the town of Jisr Diyala, just outside Baghdad, to Salman Pak is littered with the burned-out carcasses of fuel trucks that are first drained of their contents to sell on the black market.
Suits, the information officer for the Washington National Guard that has been assigned to the area for the past year, said an average of one 35,000-liter truck is ambushed each week, and the gas sold for $1 or $2 a liter.
He believes the cash is used to pay for roadside bombs and for Iraqis to plant them. The insurgents are also expected to make cash payments to the families of rebels who are killed.
"They are not in it for the money," Suits said, referring to the crime wave. "But without the money, they're not in it," he added, referring to the war.
The intelligence officer for the area, Capt. Jeffrey Schwab, agreed with Suits. "There is definitely an upswing in criminal activity and it's an indication that they are running out of money," he said.
In Washington, a Defense Department official confirmed that insurgents were facing a cash crunch. He said wire transfers of money from outside Iraq have been traced to guerrilla cells and cut off by the U.S.
Lt. Brandon Jackson, who regularly runs patrols around Jisr Diyala, also believes the enemy is finding it harder to finance its operations and pay fighters, although he uses a different measure.
"There are a lot less attacks," Jackson said while scanning rooftops along the torn up road south of Jisr Diyala. "We haven't had a good fight on our hands since August, although we still hit an occasional IED.
There's abundant reason for optimism for those who've chosen to back the winning team. And there's plenty of room on the bandwagon for those who want to join. The war isn't over but victory is inevitable.
For the rest of you take heart - you'll always have the NY Times.
Posted by Greyhawk at 10:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) |Hide Comments
Definitely. For those who get their news solely from network (even cable) TV are being led down Propaganda Blvd.Posted by Paladin at February 18, 2005 06:50 PM
Article: Casualties amongst the Iraqi police have been phenomenal. Between January and September last year 750 officers were killed on duty, while hundreds more police recruits were killed by suicide bombings. The figures from September to the present are not available, but coalition insiders believe at least 500 more have died.
Vietnam it ain't. South Vietnamese troops lost 15,000 men a year for 15 years. That's about 1200 dead a month, compared to perhaps 1000 dead Iraqi cops or soldiers over 9 months.Posted by Zhang Fei at February 20, 2005 04:45 PM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(2) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)