Saturday :: Apr 23, 2005

Violence In Iraq Is Up, And The Iraqi Security Forces Are Collapsing


by Steve

I guess we know why the White House has seemed quiet on Iraq recently: the security situation has fallen into the toilet again, attacks are up, and the vaunted Iraq Security Forces that Bush was touting right after the election have collapsed.

"Definitely, violence is getting worse," said a U.S. official in Baghdad, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "My strong sense is that a lot of the political momentum that was generated out of the successful election, which was sort of like a punch in the gut to the insurgents, has worn off." The political stalemate "has given the insurgents new hope," the official added, repeating a message Americans say they are increasingly giving Iraqi leaders.

The U.S. official said this week that overall attacks had increased since the end of March. Roadside bombings and attacks on military targets are up by as much as 40 percent in parts of the country over the same period, according to estimates from private security outfits.

Soldiers and police across much of Iraq have fallen into inaction. The Defense and Interior ministries are run by interim chiefs slated for replacement. Initiatives by the Iraqi forces against the insurgents have all but ceased.

The insurgency has found new hideouts, gathering points and recruiting areas in western and central Iraq, and in eastern Iraq along the Tigris River, as well as in other locations.
Meanwhile, officials describe setbacks in the security situation in the Sunni Muslim city of Husaybah on the Syrian border, near the area where fighters tied to al Qaeda had staged the second of two well-planned attacks on a U.S. military installation this month. An Iraqi army unit that had once grown to 400 members has dwindled to a few dozen guardsmen "holed up" inside a phosphate plant outside of Husaybah for their protection, a Marine commander said.
Maj. John Reed, executive officer for the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, which has a company in Husaybah, said the Iraqi guardsmen retreated to the phosphate plant compound with their families after insurgents attacked and killed scores of people in recent months.
"They will claim that they've got hundreds ready to come back and fight," said Reed, whose company seldom patrols inside Husaybah. "Well, there are no more than 30 of them on duty on any given day, and they are completely ineffective."
In city after city and town after town, security forces who had signed up to secure Iraq and replace U.S. forces appear to have abandoned posts or taken refuge inside them for fear of attacks.
The Interior Ministry is a distant force to which the police appeal for supplies, Harki said, "but they rarely respond."
Guerrilla campaigns also are fought psychologically, by intimidation, Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert at the Rand Corp., said in a telephone interview. Along that line, this month has shown a return of grim videos showing distraught hostages and executions, while daily bombings make every trip out of the house a calculated risk for Iraqis.
"Insurgencies can't necessarily be measured in attacks but in overall security," Hoffman said. "It's still enormously uneven even in country's capital."
Where are those blue fingers now? And why is this sounding once again eerily reminiscent of South Vietnam?
Steve :: 10:56 PM :: Comments (5) :: Digg It!