radio·free·donia

Friday, July 07, 2006

More Good News from Iraq

Most of this is a few days old, but sometimes it's hard to keep up.

From the header link:

1) Formerly 'sleepy' Muthanna province goes kablooey.

This is important because this has not only been one of Arab Iraq's least dangerous provinces, but this is supposed to be the first one where Iraqi forces are supposed to completely take over security from Western forces when the Brits pull out at the end of the month. This was supposed to be a success story, the beginning of our being able to stand down as the Iraqis stood up.

Instead, we have fired police storming local government headquarters, the police chief resigning, and the governor quitting because he's afraid of violence once the Brits leave:

In southern Iraq, a provincial police chief resigned Tuesday and a governor said he would leave his post after coalition forces turn over security to Iraqi forces later this month, citing fears that violence will increase.

The decisions came after nearly 300 fired policemen stormed into the local government's headquarters in Samawah earlier in the day to protest their lost jobs, provincial council member Mohammed al-Zayadi said. Other former policemen also reportedly beat another council member after breaking into his house Monday night.

The panel accepted the resignation of Col. Mohammed Najim Abu Kihila, the chief of Muthanna police, "amid the deteriorating security, demonstrated by the assault on the provincial council's members and some citizens," al-Zayadi said.

He also said provincial Gov. Mohammad Ali Hassan offered his resignation and the council agreed to accept it as long as he stayed in his position until security was transferred from coalition forces to Iraqis later this month.

2) How many bodyguards do you need to be safe in Iraq?

At least a dozen, apparently.

Meanwhile, gunmen in camouflage uniforms kidnapped Deputy Electricity Minister Raed al-Hares, along with 11 of his bodyguards in eastern Baghdad, but he was released after several hours, officials said.

The gunmen stopped al-Hares' convoy in the Shiite neighborhood of Talbiya, then forced the Shiite official and his bodyguards into their vehicles, said police Lt. Ahmed Qassim. The Electricity Ministry said he was released in the evening but refused to give more details.

The kidnapping occurred three days after gunmen seized female Sunni legislator Tayseer al-Mashhadani in a Shiite area of east Baghdad. She and seven bodyguards are still missing.

3) Basra had also been relatively quiet until recent months, although it had been the quiet of a Shi'ite theocracy. Now it's blowing up:
Iraqi authorities, meanwhile, imposed an 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. car and pedestrian curfew in Basra to bolster a state of emergency that has failed to curb increasing violence in the southern city.
It seems that various Shi'ite factions are fighting one another for control of the city.

4) And neo-Nazis are infiltrating our military:

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks racist and right-wing militia groups, estimated that the numbers could run into the thousands, citing interviews with Defense Department investigators and reports and postings on racist Web sites and magazines.

"We've got Aryan Nations graffiti in Baghdad," the group quoted a Defense Department investigator as saying in a report to be posted today on its Web site, www.splcenter.org. "That's a problem."

...The report quotes Scott Barfield, a Defense Department investigator, saying, "Recruiters are knowingly allowing neo-Nazis and white supremacists to join the armed forces, and commanders don't remove them from the military even after we positively identify them as extremists or gang members."

Mr. Barfield said Army recruiters struggled last year to meet goals. "They don't want to make a big deal again about neo-Nazis in the military," he said, "because then parents who are already worried about their kids signing up and dying in Iraq are going to be even more reluctant about their kids enlisting if they feel they'll be exposed to gangs and white supremacists."

...the report said Mr. Barfield, who is based at Fort Lewis, Wash., had said that he had provided evidence on 320 extremists there in the past year, but that only two had been discharged. He also said there was an online network of neo-Nazis.

Great: because we're having such a hard time recruiting a better class of people into the military, we're sending white supremacists to Iraq, where they can help win hearts and minds by shooting Arabs.

And, for comedy relief:

5) Joe Lieberman says things in Iraq are "a lot better" than they were a year ago.

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