March 8, 2006
Wanted: Sunni Police Recruits
Following up on our earlier post, Year of the Police , we continue our look at the American effort to shape up the militia-infested Iraqi police force. The New York Times reports that this task has turned out to be rather difficult.
But it's still good news, because whenever we recognize a problem and "focus like a laser beam," it's well on its way to being solved. "Well begun is half done," as Mary Poppins said.
During last week's sectarian skirmishes, the Iraqi Army, trained by Americans, brought order back to the streets. The army behaved in such an exemplary fashion that Iraqis were both impressed and relieved all across the nation. Not a single soldier abandoned his post and joined the mobs.
By contrast, however, many Iraqi Security Forces -- the police under the Interior Ministry -- stood by and did nothing:
After the bombing, mobs led by Shiite militiamen attacked dozens of Sunni mosques and left hundreds dead. Many police units stood aside, either out of confusion or sectarian loyalties, according to Iraqi witnesses. Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top American commander in Iraq, said Friday that police officers had allowed militiamen through checkpoints in eastern Baghdad, where much of the violence occurred.
We had made a conscious decision to train the army first, leaving the police for later. But "later" is now, and Americans are beginning to implement a number of changes to shape up the Security Force:
- We are implementing quotas to recruit more Sunnis into the police academies. At the moment, although Shia are only 60% of the population of Iraq, virtually the entire Security Force (99%) are Shiite. This leads to the belief among Sunni and Kurd that the Security Forces are really just the Shiite Forces, and that they will not enforce the law against the Shia -- just against everybody else.
- We are forcing the Interior Ministry to start "firing Shiite police commanders who appear to tolerate militias." This is a no-brainer; it would be like having captains in the Los Angeles Police Department who have strong ties to the Crips or Bloods. Obviously such people have to go, and they have to go immediately. And humiliatingly... they need not only to be ousted but to lose face; otherwise, they'll be back as soon as our backs are turned.
- We are forming at least 200 "training teams" of American MPs and retired civilian police. These teams will be sent to Iraqi police stations, even those in locations so remote, they think of themselves more as warlords or tribal chiefs than national police.
The American effort to balance the police forces has met with strong oposition from Shia in the Interior Ministry, which is controlled by Interim Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, nominated by the Islamic Dawa Party of the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA) to be permanent prime minister. Al-Jaafari bristles at the idea that the Americans might reform the Security Forces... though he appears happy that we reformed the Iraqi Army:
There is no quick or painless fix. The efforts risk alienating Shiite politicians, who have fiercely resisted attempts to wrest away their control of the security forces. The moves may appeal, though, to recalcitrant Sunni Arabs, whom the Americans want to draw into the political process...
Officials at the most powerful Shiite party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq [SCIRI, also part of the UIA], which oversees the Interior Ministry, have lashed out at the Americans, arguing that the majority Shiites had every right to control security, because Saddam Hussein's Sunni-dominated government had used the army and the police to abduct, torture and kill Shiites.
This attitude raises the disturbing possiblity that many in the Interior Ministry see the police as their mechanism for taking revenge against Sunnis in general for decades of tyranny by the Baath Party and Saddam Hussein. Such a program of vengeance would almost certainly cause Iraq to splinter into warring factions... particularly since renegade "cleric" Muqtada Sadr is behind much of the militia infiltration -- and is also responsible for al-Jaafari being nominated as the UIA's candidate for permanent prime minister.
The police units most plagued by militas are the paramilitary forces. No coincidence, the paramilitaries are the units that Shiite politicians are especially keen on personally controlling. The paramilitaries, equivalent to the FBI combined with nationwide "SWAT" teams, operate all over Iraq; they do not have specific districts or jurisdictions.
Sunnis accuse the Interior Ministry of sponsoring secret death squads, who may not actually be police, but who have the disconcerting ability to get hold of paramilitary uniforms when necessary. These death squads -- who also often wear all black and are typically referred to as "men in black" by Sunnis -- kill Sunni clerics, seize Sunni mosques (frequently mosques that used to be Shiite until they were seized and converted by Saddam Hussein) and terrorize ordinary Iraqi citizens, both Sunni and Shia who dare to speak up against them.
In a perfect illustration of the problem, just today, a number of these "men in black" -- again this time wearing police "commando" (paramilitary) uniforms -- kidnapped as many as fifty Iraqi Sunni members of a security company that guarded many businesses in Iraq, including a major cell-phone company:
Gunmen in Interior Ministry commando uniforms stormed the offices of a private security company and kidnapped as many as 50 employees Wednesday, while U.S. and Iraqi patrols reported the discovery of 24 shot or garroted bodies in the capital....
Unidentified attackers hit the al-Rawafid Security Co. at 4:30 p.m. and forced the workers into seven vehicles, including several white SUVs, said Interior Ministry Maj. Falah al-Mohammedawi. The victims, including bodyguards, drivers, computer technicians and other employees, did not resist because they assumed their abductors were police special forces working for the Interior Ministry, al-Mohammedawi said.
Interior Ministry Undersecretary Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Khefaji denied any involvement by his department, saying: "It is a terrorist act."
It may well be "a terrorist act;" and the kidnappers may be militia members, likely working for Sadr, and not actually police paramilitaries. But where did they get the uniforms? And without Interior Ministry support, or at least sympathy, why have such militias not been broken up?
When the new police force was formed, the Americans did not require monitoring of the police recruits' religious sect. The Shia took advantage, and the Security Force is now 99% Shia. This staggering overrepresentation of Shia is a festering problem that must be addressed:
American officers say that when they try to talk to Iraqi commanders about the religious or ethnic breakdown of the forces, the commanders tend to shy away from those conversations, as most Iraqis do, saying they prefer to think of themselves as one people rather than in terms of sect.
They may be shy of talking about it, but they are certainly not shy of acting according to their sect's interest.
For much of last year, the Second Public Order Brigade had a particularly bad reputation. It was accused by many Iraqis, especially Sunni Arabs, of detainee torture and illegal killings. Its ranks were filled with men recruited from eastern Baghdad who were loyal to Moktada al-Sadr, the firebrand Shiite cleric who had led two rebellions against the Americans.
This year, we are dramatically increasing the number of American advisors embedded in each Iraqi police batallion, both in the cities and the remote police outposts. I am hopeful that this mentoring program will work; however, the core problem is not the police -- it is the Interior Ministry itself.
The Shiite politicians in the ministry are terribly corrupt with strong ties to militias such as the Mahdi "Army" of Sadr. Until those politicians can think outside of their tribal and religious affiliations -- "as one people rather than in terms of sect" -- fixing the police alone will not solve the problem. If we and the Iraqis don't also fix the Interior Ministry itself, then as soon as the Americans leave, the police will go right back to their old ways.
We urgently need to help the Iraqis institute a culture withing the Security Forces that respects rule of law, not tribal rule. They must deploy a merit system and eschew nepotism. In the old Iraqi Army and police of the Tikriti Saddam Hussein, the ranks were filled with relatives and friends of influential politicians. This is the culture we must eradicate. There is no room in the modern world for "Hutu and Tutsi"-ism.
But in order to do that, the Interior Ministry itself must start hiring more Sunni politicians and cease being the personal fiefdom of "leaders" like al-Jaafari. That will certainly be even harder than reforming the police.
Hatched by Sachi on this day, March 8, 2006, at the time of 2:01 PM
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The following hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist
Perhaps we get our news from different sources. Anyway, from what i am reading, there are plenty of "Sunni Police Recruits" applying. Iraq doesn't need 40% or 50% of their Police Recruits to be Sunni, in my humble opinion. An infamous Shiite Mosque was bombed recently, the "Golden Dome" Mosque, and the Iraqi Police did a great job in maintaining order.
Read that article..."Iraqi authorities hanged 13 insurgents Thursday, marking the first time militants have been executed in the country since Saddam Hussein was ousted, the government said."
Yes, most difficult to read, since it babbles quite a bit; however, the Iraqi Police are doing their job, and that was barely mentioned, if it was mentioned at all whilst MSM waits for a "Civil War". The Sunni would be Butchered in any Civil War in Iraq, and one (even the Sunni) might wonder why they haven't been already.
i am hearing that the Iraqis were quite impressed by their Police recently, and recruiting is no problem, even for the recruiting of Sunni.
"Update8"?!?!?!?! *EIGHT* updates on the same day, "Feb. 22 (Bloomberg)", and i am the only one noticing a lust from America for a "Civil War" in Iraq!?!
Anyway, today is Thursday, March 09 of 2006, and roughly two-weeks after the "Golden Domed" Mosque's dome was destroyed. The Iraqi Police are doing their jobs...so to speak of maintaining order.
Simple as that...and, what Iraqi cares if such are Sunni or Shiite or Christian or Kurd???
The above hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist at March 9, 2006 6:30 PM
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