More Iraqi Security Forces
The increased targetting of the Iraqi police and National Guard is unabated, with at least seventeen security officers killed by two car bombs this morning. The BBC indicates that the number is twenty, sixteen near Ramadi and four near Samarra.
On other fronts, Knight Ridder reports that Allawi's government "has purged tens of thousands of unfit officers from the national police force in recent months." In a double whammy, KR highlights the incompetence of the CPA:
Those hired by the American-led Coalition Provisional Authority during the chaotic months after Saddam Hussein's regime collapsed are subject to particularly close scrutiny. As the United States scrambled to fill the security void, applicants were poorly screened, and legions of illiterates, convicted criminals and officers sympathetic to the insurgency were given uniforms and guns, Iraqi officials said.While hinting at the specter of Allawi crafting a personal security force rather than a national security force:
Many of them have drawn paychecks for months while rarely appearing for work.
"The coalition forces made big mistakes after the fall of the regime when they dealt with our security systems. They didn't understand our culture and our needs. They kept hiring Iraqi police officers randomly, without checking their political and social backgrounds," said Qassim Daoud, the minister of state for national security.
Iraqi officials declined to discuss in detail how they were choosing which officers to expel, and they classified the employee reviews as a normal, ongoing process. But senior U.S. officials in Iraq said the review of police, particularly the force's leadership, was accelerating.The piece doesn't explicitly note that possibility, but any opaque purge headed by Allawi must raise concerns. KR also notes that the Iraqis "put the [size of the] force at just 40,000," in contrast to the much large numbers claimed by Bush-Cheney (206,000), and that "much-touted efforts to hand off responsibility for security to Iraqi forces in order to put an Iraqi face on the U.S. occupation were deeply flawed and ineffective." Larger estimates, credibly in the high five figures, come from combining the National Guard, the police, and other internal security forces.
The 8/1/04 Doug Struck article in the Washington Post provides a baseline for determining progress with the security forces. The Slate/Fred Kaplan sidebar from 10/6/04 is also a good reference.
Update, 10/24/04, 10:01 AM EST: Juan Cole has more, including an attack on a Turkish truck convoy which killed two, the assassination of the chief of police in Arbil, and three assaults on oil pipelines (2 accomplished, one thwarted), seemingly intended to disrupt "Iraq's ability to provide fuel oil and gasoline to citizens." AFP reported the assassination of Arbil's chief of police, Col. Taha Ahmad Omar:
Unknown attackers opened fire on Omar, 51, said the head of police at the local KDP government, General Jamil Khodr.The NYT on the surge in violence:
"He was hit by eight bullets as he returned to his house after prayers," he said.
A sharp spike in violence has taken place in the 10 days since the start of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting. Martyrs are said to accrue special benefits during the month. The American military has said attacks are up 25 percent daily, approaching the levels seen last April, when a two-front uprising roiled the country.