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Knight Ridder, Like it Is: Iraqi Police Force Not Ready

Deepening anti-U.S. rage casts doubt on Iraq leaders' ability to restore order:

BAGHDAD, Iraq - After the past two days of fighting in southern and central Iraq, the difference between firebrand cleric Muqtada al Sadr and Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi couldn't be any more clear: Al Sadr has an army, and Allawi does not.

In Iraq, security is politics. When Allawi took office, the self-styled strongman lost little time before declaring that his government wouldn't tolerate the insurgency that's swept the country.

But as in previous battles, when al Sadr's Mahdi Army militia began to overrun Najaf and several neighborhoods from Baghdad to Basra, the Iraqi police force and national guard fought for a little while, then ran.
Meanwhile, conservatives are praising Allawi's shut-down of the Baghdad office of Al-Jazeera. Not only is this anti-democratic, an affront to a free press, but it is horrible policy. It makes Allawi and America look like hypocrites. It removes a moderate voice from the theatre. It increases Al-Jazeera's credibility while probably contributing to its radicalization. Oppressing the media has never served any government well.


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