Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Policing Iraq

Charles Levinson of the Christian Science Monitor makes clear one of the major Sunni gripes in the creation of the new Iraqi government. Much of the fight centers on control of the Interior Ministry which oversees all Iraqi police forces. Currently, Shiites control the ministry. Opponents contend that under Shi'a leadership, Interior has operated secret prisons and abused Iraqi citizens. According to Levinson's article, many of the various police forces' ranks are being filled by members of the militant Shi'a Badr Militia. In addition to attacking former Hussein regime figures, police have been accused of targeting Sunnis in general for abusive treatment. The US is stepping up efforts to train police across Iraq's ethnic lines to build trust among the Sunni population, but Interior Minister Mohammad Ali al-Khafaggy is resisting.

One can expect some bloodletting when a group as long-persecuted as Iraq's Shiites gains power over its former oppressors. However, it's a huge leap from giving criminal Baathists their comeupence to dragging young Sunni men out of their homes only to have them turn up at the morgue six months later. It's now easier to understand why average Iraqi Sunnis want to have a few things clarified in the nation's new constitution.

Rebuilding a country broken by totalitarian rule is messy business. Major General Joseph Peterson heads the training of Iraqi police forces for the US Army, and Levinson's article portrays the general as determined to train a police force rooted in civil law and competency.

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