Iraqi police force infiltrated by ins s

  • #1

Main Question or Discussion Point

Iraqi police force "infiltrated by insurgents"

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4266304.stm

There is already another thread on this, but it has become infiltrated by insurgents. Four pages on name-calling makes a thread hard to follow, so I thought a clean slate would be appropriate.

The latest info on this reinforces the rumour that the Iraqi police force is infiltrated by "insurgents", and that this is not a localised problem.

One of the questions on the other thread (by Art, I think) was about why the officers were arrested. On Channel 4 news last night (but not in the above link), it was claimed that they were arrested on the grounds that the medical kits they were carrying "could have concealed bombs". Recall the SAS officers were disguised as locals. Also recall they were carrying some pretty heavy artillary anyway.

What interests and worries me is the fact that it seems every party in Iraq has its own militia, independant of the police force and the armed forces. Since these parties are so at odds with each other, you have to wonder how they've managed to NOT descend into all-out civil war. Yet.

Another concern goes back again to the idea of forced democracy, nicely understated by the coalition as "freeing the Iraqi people". I'm trying not to be too biased, but this does seem another reminder that Iraq is a square peg that won't be squeezed into the round hole of western ideologies. Iraqi police officers are 'trained' to be neutral. Does anyone think this is possible on the scale required to build an effective force? Can you make a Shia stop being a Shia between 9 and 5?

Talking of which, it's become more clear that coalition newspeak lumping anyone who takes up a weapon into the all-encompassing terms of 'insurgent' or 'terrorist' is drastically obfuscating the underlying issues. It's not unusual for western democracies to not really bother trying to understand the specific dynamics in forrun countries, but when it is possible that usually decent Iraqis may well sometimes be urged, by conscience or coercion, more by their loyalty to a specific party than to the country as a whole, I don't see the generic, one-size-fits-all terminology employed by both our governments and our media as being anything other than ignorant. We have a different view of Iraq (a country of insurgents and civilians) than the Iraqis do (a country of contending religious/racial/political factions).

And obviously the most immediate question coming out of this story is: did the British military handle this in the best way? I think we will have to wait until we see the big picture to answer this one. The urgency and manner with which they acted suggests, to me, that the scope and scale of the danger in the officers being held was large. If so, what made them think this? On the other hand, maybe the New Iraq we're supposedly trying to help build really matters less than the embarrassment of having British troops arrested by Iraqi police. Build a police station, knock it down, who cares...?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/09/21/iraq.britain/index.html [Broken]

This article reinforces the claim that the SAS officers were arrested after being involved in a firefight with Iraqi police at a checkpoint. However, it also says that it was feared the police involved were "really insurgents dressed in police uniforms" and that the officers may have been handed over to the militia for hostage negotiation.
 
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  • #3
SOS2008
Gold Member
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Here is a Washington Post article from last month discussing these problems in general:
Militias on the Rise Across Iraq
Shiite and Kurdish Groups Seizing Control, Instilling Fear in North and South

By Anthony Shadid and Steve Fainaru
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, August 21, 2005; A01

BASRA, Iraq -- Shiite and Kurdish militias, often operating as part of Iraqi government security forces, have carried out a wave of abductions, assassinations and other acts of intimidation, consolidating their control over territory across northern and southern Iraq and deepening the country's divide along ethnic and sectarian lines, according to political leaders, families of the victims, human rights activists and Iraqi officials.
For more - http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/20/AR2005082001317_pf.html

And to think there was so much concern about allowing members of the Baath party to participate in the New Democratic Iraq. Apparently it wouldn't have made a difference, except that they were already trained. So how many of you believe the U.S. can train Iraqi security forces to stand on their own, and in what time frame?

Edit: I thought I'd add this quote from the article as well:
...many residents have said they are powerless before the growing sway of the militias, which instill a climate of fear that many see as redolent of the era of former president Saddam Hussein.
Yay to freedom, peace and democracy for the Iraqi people!
 
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  • #4
Tarheel
SOS2008 said:
Edit: I thought I'd add this quote from the article as well:
Yay to freedom, peace and democracy for the Iraqi people!
...many residents have said they are powerless before the growing sway of the militias, which instill a climate of fear that many see as redolent of the era of former president Saddam Hussein.
There was an interview with Anthony Shadid (Baghdad correspondant for the Washington Post) on NPR yesterday in which he talked about asking a young Iraqi man that had joined the police force there "What are you fighting for?"

The man responded "To get things back to the way they were when Saddam was in power."

I thought that was very telling about how many of the people there feel towards the "invasion"
Before... Maybe not ideal, but reasonably safe.
Now... YIKES!

WTG AMERICA! :frown:
 
  • #5
SOS2008 said:
Here is a Washington Post article from last month discussing these problems in general:
For more - http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/20/AR2005082001317_pf.html

And to think there was so much concern about allowing members of the Baath party to participate in the New Democratic Iraq. Apparently it wouldn't have made a difference, except that they were already trained. So how many of you believe the U.S. can train Iraqi security forces to stand on their own, and in what time frame?
You see, this is where politics, real life and the grand plans of short-sighted little twerps in their cosy, state-paid houses collide. By the sounds of it, that party militia are in the security forces is not new knowledge, yet we continue to train these security forces under the full awareness that some of the trainees already intend to use their new skills to the detriment of the rebuilding effort and the country as a whole. I'm sure even the people training them are aware of this irony. Yet for the process to be seen as successful, the training must continue. And so it goes on, until eventually the security forces themselves have turned into the total opposite of what it was intended for. It's all or nothing - 100% success or 100% failure and - oh look, we've screwed up again. :grumpy: There has to be a better way.
 
  • #6
It could be just that my mind is a bit out of field due to the books I have read but from what I understand Brit Intelligence Agencies are pretty hardcore. As opposed to American intel operatives who are disavowed I have been lead to understand that the brits DO NOT allow their agents to be taken and held prisoner and rarely fess up to what their agents were doing. This whole confusion as to what happened gives me the impression that Brit Intel is very possibly spreading or promoting disinformation to obfuscate the details. While suspicious of motives I do somewhat admire the handiwork. I think they're definitely better than the US at this sort of thing.


More on topic... I really don't see anyway of discouraging these militias. Anyone who gains an upper hand in their parliament will likely have more control over the police and security forces so each party is maintaining militias and placing loyalists in the common system as an insurance policy, it would seem to me. It's a sort of arms race scenario that is keeping things in check but unfortunately probably raising tensions.
 
  • #7
SOS2008
Gold Member
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TheStatutoryApe said:
It could be just that my mind is a bit out of field due to the books I have read but from what I understand Brit Intelligence Agencies are pretty hardcore. As opposed to American intel operatives who are disavowed I have been lead to understand that the brits DO NOT allow their agents to be taken and held prisoner and rarely fess up to what their agents were doing. This whole confusion as to what happened gives me the impression that Brit Intel is very possibly spreading or promoting disinformation to obfuscate the details. While suspicious of motives I do somewhat admire the handiwork. I think they're definitely better than the US at this sort of thing.
Sad that we don't have the same regard for our own intel.

TheStatutoryApe said:
More on topic... I really don't see anyway of discouraging these militias. Anyone who gains an upper hand in their parliament will likely have more control over the police and security forces so each party is maintaining militias and placing loyalists in the common system as an insurance policy, it would seem to me. It's a sort of arms race scenario that is keeping things in check but unfortunately probably raising tensions.
Or is it the other way around -- Does military might create government right? I see your point about militia 'checks and balance' but when violence is involved it is by nature an unstable environment. Business and the economy is disrupted, rebuilding is slowed, children can't go to school, etc. In the meantime, will these factions harden beyond reconciliation? If Iraq can't unite politically and recover economically, the U.S. will have to stay and keep the peace and continue in a never ending nation-building exercise.
 
  • #8
SOS said:
Or is it the other way around -- Does military might create government right? I see your point about militia 'checks and balance' but when violence is involved it is by nature an unstable environment. Business and the economy is disrupted, rebuilding is slowed, children can't go to school, etc. In the meantime, will these factions harden beyond reconciliation? If Iraq can't unite politically and recover economically, the U.S. will have to stay and keep the peace and continue in a never ending nation-building exercise.
MmmNo.. It doesn't make right, ofcourse. I'm only meaning that they are attempting to protect their interests because they don't trust one another. From what I have read I doubt that these "checks and balances" even out but for now, especially with Allied forces present, probably create enough of a deterance to keep things from an all out civil war. I wouldn't consider this to be a stable situation at all and was infering, with regard to "raised tensions", that any nominal stability probably wont last.

I know that I have supported continued military presence, though not the war itself, but it is because I really believe that the US has a responsibility to do what it can to help Iraq become stable. I would also go so far as to say that the rest of the countries in the UN have a responsibility to this end aswell. At the same time I understand that the US is very likely being to stuborn to work out a real plan with the other UN members.
Perhaps it's a lost cause but that should not deter us from doing what we can. If military presence is removed it would likely only hasten the civil war that so many think is enevitable, and definitely would be were the Allied forces to pull out.
I think UN negotiators should be in Iraq helping to smoothe out the political unrest and the Allied forces should be reduced to a skeleton crew.
I know this isn't likely to happen though considering that the US is building bases there and I doubt that the Iraqi government will tell us to get out or the UN will grow balls enough to tell us to either.
 
  • #9
vanesch
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
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El Hombre Invisible said:
What interests and worries me is the fact that it seems every party in Iraq has its own militia, independant of the police force and the armed forces. Since these parties are so at odds with each other, you have to wonder how they've managed to NOT descend into all-out civil war. Yet.
I think that even during Saddam's reign, he used these militia to be his "local police", no ?
 
  • #10
vanesch said:
I think that even during Saddam's reign, he used these militia to be his "local police", no ?
Some of them. It's hard to keep track. Even within, say, the Kurdish people there are different parties with different militia, some of whom were loyal to Saddam, some weren't. Some have sprung up since the invasion, formed to fight the coalition and other militant Iraqi parties. These parties change their names and their loyalties so often, and there are so many of them, ranging from a hundred or so people to thousands, that it's nigh on impossible to tell who's who. Like I said, it doesn't help that our governments and media just refer to all the ones they don't like as 'insurgents'.
 

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