2004 May 19 Wednesday
Assassination Underscores Security As Top Problem In Iraq

The slaying of Basra Shiite Governing Council member Izzedin Salim is yet another setback.

BAGHDAD, May 17 -- The president of the Iraqi Governing Council was killed in a suicide car bombing Monday as his motorcade waited to enter the headquarters of the U.S. occupation authority.

And is part of a larger pattern...

From Mosul in the north to Basra, insurgents have been systematically killing Iraqi translators, municipal politicians, tribal sheiks and political leaders working with the occupation authority. The effect has been to isolate the authority from most Iraqis and the intelligence they could provide against the rising insurgency.

But some Iraqis in a town west of Baghdad are very happy that Salim was killed.

RAMADI, Iraq, May 18 (IPS) - Motorists honked in celebration in this western Iraqi town as news spread of the assassination of the president of the Iraqi Governing Council Ezzidin Salim Monday.

Many people clapped, and raised their fists. "The GC is nothing," one man shouted. "They are not the Governing Council. They are the Prostitution Council."

Sfook, a storeowner in the city said: "They are not Iraqi! They weren't here suffering during Saddam's time like we were. They are only puppets of the Americans!"

Members of Iraq's Governing Council are afraid they will be next to die.

"If something is not done about this security situation, there will be no transfer of power," said Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish member of the council.

Othman, who is generally pro-American, described the assassination as only the most extreme example of the lawlessness that has grown in the year since President Saddam Hussein was driven from power. "Never in Iraq has it been like this -- never, even under Saddam," he said. "People are killed, kidnapped and assaulted; children are taken away; women are raped. Nobody is afraid of any punishment."

Rajaa Habib Khuzai, a Shiite Muslim physician on the council, said, "The assassins gave a warning signal to every member of the Governing Council: We could be next."

Othman says that the US soldiers do not have the skills to do policing and that they are grabbing innocent people at random and sticking them in Abu Ghraib prison. Given that the US soldiers lack the Arabic language skills to even communicate with the populace they are trying to police (a problem I've previously described in June 2003 and in January 2004 and in February 2004 - see any signs of improvement? I don't) Othman's statement is not surprising. It was incredibly naive of the Bush Administration to think that the US Army wasn't going to require even more training to handle occupation than it received for invasion. Imagine (assuming you are not Finnish) your local police came from another country and all spoke Finnish and that most on patrol didn't even have a translator along with them. Imagine that some of your neighbors shot at the police. How good a job do you think your police would do?

Can the Iraqis build up police and intelligence forces that are going to be effective at tracking down the bombers and the assassins? If, as seems likely, the US military isn't going to be able to break into and take down the many groups that are launching attacks, then we are many months away from reaching the point where security can be established in Iraq. A British general says it will take a year to build up the Iraqi police.

British Major General Freddie Viggers, who served in Iraq as a deputy commander to US General Ricardo Sanchez, spoke to members of the House Armed Services Committee along with Major General Simon Willis, the head of the Australian Defence Staff, and Lieutenant General Mieczyslaw Cieniuch of Poland about their countries' operations in Iraq.


"I think we're off to a good start" in organising an Iraqi police, he said. "How much longer have we got to go ... I think there's another year's - probably year's worth of work."

Paul Wolfowitz acknowledges the gap between plan and reality.

"We had a plan that anticipated, I think, that we could proceed with an occupation regime for much longer than it turned out the Iraqis would have patience for. We had a plan that assumed we'd have basically more stable security conditions than we've encountered," Wolfowitz told the senators.

Some military officers fear the Bush Administraton's response to reality has involved too much embrace of expediency.

Some military officers are also concerned that Washington is now cutting back on its original goal of eliminating major flash points in Iraq before June 30. They say the United States has basically retreated in Fallujah, handing over control of the Sunni city to a former Iraqi general who is now commanding some of the very insurgents U.S. forces were fighting -- again, in the name of expediency.

One of the great hopes of the neoconservatives in the Bush Administration for acceptable post-war Iraq rule was Ahmad Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress. Amidst allegations that the INC provided no useful intelligence and that much of what it provided was fabricated and false combined with Chalabi's obvious unpopularity in Iraq the Bush Administration has given up on its dream of Chalabi as the future ruler of Iraq.

The Iraqi National Congress was informed Friday that the $335,000 payment it has received monthly from the Defense Intelligence Agency would stop in June, they said.

The funding cutoff represents a major setback to some in the administration, who had hoped to position INC leader Ahmed Chalabi as head of a democratic Iraqi government that would sign a peace treaty with Israel, allow the United States to build permanent military bases in Iraq, and serve as a model for the rest of the Middle East.

We are more than a year past the initial invasion and reality is biting. The extremists are going to keep trying to kill anyone who cooperates with American forces. Potential leaders suitable to the US are going to be reluctant to step forward and become targets. The US can't develop a new Iraqi Army and police force fast enough and US forces aren't trained with the Arabic language and intelligence skills needed to fight an Arab insurgency. The Bush Administration needs to get ahead of the curve and admit to the severity of the problems with its position. If the Bushies would lower their expectations of what is achievable then they'd be more willing to consider options which become more appealing only once the big goals are admitted to be unattainable.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2004 May 19 02:46 PM  Mideast Iraq

Fly said at May 19, 2004 2:59 PM:



Randall Parker said at May 19, 2004 3:26 PM:

Fly, The VoxTec Phraselator is obviously a useful translation device. But it still is a far cry from the advantages gained from native language fluency.

Fly said at May 20, 2004 9:54 PM:

I agree Randall. Nor do the devices instill a feel for the culture or people. But they are better than nothing. Sometimes one must creatively work with the resources available.

In hindsight the US made a grave error in allowing Multiculturism and Saudi money to turn Middle East education departments in American Universities into centers of Arabic propaganda. Many of the Americans who speak Arabic and are familiar with the culture have strong bias that doesnít help US efforts.

In a broader context, conservatives ceded control of the universities, schools, and media to the proponents of multiculturalism. In hindsight it seems simple and obvious. Who decides to become a teacher or news reporter and who decides to become an engineer or businessman? Over time the professions developed into divergent philosophical camps.
Before 9-11, I didnít think politics really mattered. I certainly didnít care if the media honestly reported the non-leftist side. (The bias wasnít as obvious when I shared their views. Seems obvious now that I support the WoT. Hehe.) Now it seems half the country and most of the media doesnít believe we are at war. The lack of media balance could cost us the war.

PS Thanks for cleaning up my double post.

Randall Parker said at May 20, 2004 10:18 PM:

Fly, The Left has been in control of the universities for a very long time. What changed during the 60s was that the Left became much more anti-American. The sort of "Scoop Jackson" liberals became endangered species.

Someone ought to go back and look at voting rolls in Cambridge Mass (assuming old rolls still exist) compared to faculty at Harvard 50 and 75 years ago and see how many Republicans there were on faculties back then. When did the Democrats come to dominate academia?

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