Ex Baathists Excluded Police Poorly

Ex-Baathists Excluded
Police Poorly Trained

The United Iraqi Alliance (Shiite religious parties) who now dominate the Iraqi government are insisting on purging the Iraqi government of former members of the Baath Party and trying any who might be associated with crimes. They are also dismissive of attempts to reach out to Sunni guerrilla movements. The interim government of Iyad Allawi, himself an ex-Baathist, had appointed to intelligence and military positions a number of former Baath officers associated with the Iraqi National Accord, who had worked with the US CIA against Saddam after breaking with him. Since most ex-Baathists are Sunni, and since most Sunni Arabs who amount to anything in Iraq had at least some tenuous relationship to the Baath party, the upshot of deputy speaker Hussein Shahristani’s vindictive comments is actually a long-term and massive marginalization of the Sunni Arab community. This marginalization will likely prolong and deepen the guerrilla war.

It turns out the story that Sunni guerrillas had kidnapped 100 Shiites in Mada’in and were threatening to kill them may have little or even nothing to it. Iraq is prime ground for the spread of poisonous rumors, since the poor security situation makes it difficult for journalists to check stories, and the battling factions have every reason to circulate falsehoods.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani favors using Kurdish and Shiite militias against the Sunni Arab guerrillas. The problem with this plan is that it ethnicizes the conflict even further. Creating an Iraqi military that could fight for the nation rather than, as militias do, for a section of it, is the only good option.

Busines Week expresses the most severe reservations about the Iraqi police. Poorly trained, often corrupt or ineffective, and with tens of thousands accused of taking their salaries and just staying home, they may be more of a problem than a solution in the short to medium term.

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