Tuesday, May 18, 2004

On security

Yesterday's assassination of Abdul Zahra Othman (Izzildin Selim), head of the GC, the highest authority in the country, should be regarded as a serious development, and one that raises some hard questions on current security measures and the manner in which Iraqi security forces (counting over 200,000 IP, FPS, ICDC, and Army members) will deal with the challenge in the near future.

It looks more like the death of the GC president was a mere coincidence, and that he was not the primary target of the attack, IP investigation officers seem to agree with this explanation. 2 other checkpoint entries into the Green Zone were attacked by suicide bombers previously, the first one close to the Jumhuriya bridge, then the second close to the 17th of July bridge a couple of weeks ago. And according to IP officers, coalition forces reacted by closing the attacked entry points to Iraqi employees leaving only checkpoint 12 at the end of Al-Kindi street in Harthiya as their daily entry route to the Green Zone. The logical consequence is that checkpoint 12 would be the next one to attack, so painfully plain and simple. How no one could predict this is beyond me.

This leads one to wonder, why would GC members wait in a long queue along with everyone else like sitting ducks? Shouldn't they have their own special entry points? Adnan Al-Pachachi and Ahmed Al-Chalabi barely escaped death since their vehicles were a little farther behind, this means the invisible attackers were very close to scoring 3 points in one easy hit.

So after Aqila Al-Hashimi, Ayatollah Muhammed Baqir Al-Hakim, and Abdul Zahra Othman, who is next? Is it just a coincidence that all 3 were Shi'ite? Abdul Zahra Othman was a leading Da'wa party figure, closely affiliated to the late Ayatollah Muhammed Baqir Al-Sadr (executed by the regime in 1980), founder of the Islamic Da'wa party during the late fifties. He later split from the Da'wa party because of some ideological differences and formed the Da'wa party movement. Exiled in Iran and later in Kuwait, he returned to Iraq following the fall of Saddam's regime.

A new comedic army claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement published on the Internet, this time 'The Arabic resistance movement', 'Al-Rashid brigades', naming Mohammed Al-Samarrai, and Ali Al-Juboori as the perpetrators, both are Iraqi Sunnis in case you were wondering. Up till now I never believed an Iraqi would carry out a suicide attack, although it is still disputable whether or not the attack was suicidal, but if proven true it would be an unprecedented development indicating that foreign terrorists have infiltrated enough to be able to recruit Iraqis with a predisposition for such acts.

The solution is not to erect higher concrete barriers, nor is it to place a checkpoint for the checkpoint for the entry gates. Experienced Iraqi intelligence officers swarming the country is the solution. The new Mukhabarat should be put to the test. Also, effective disarmament of the population (not attempted till now) starting with militias is an important and necessary step.

Further attacks, probably deadlier, are to be expected in the near future. Iraqi security forces have confidently announced on several occasions that they would do better if handed full security responsibilities. I fail to see so, especially when we have had examples of IP and ICDC cutting and running in the face of Al-Mahdi army in the south when Al-sadr decided to stir trouble. IP have not even defended their own stations when they came under attack in many cities, IP joining Al-Mahdi militiamen in looting at Basrah, gangs with elements of IP in Ammarah, and the cases of ICDC refusing to participate in restoring order at Fallujah and Kut with the feeble excuse that they would 'not attack fellow Iraqis'. Okay then, please try convincing insurgents, militias, foreign Jihadis, bandits, kidnappers, looters, criminals, and gangsters NOT to attack fellow Iraqis, maybe then we can see some real progress, Inshallah as they say in this corner of the world.