Saturday, September 16, 2006


Security operation to start in Basrah

Thousands of Iraqi and British forces will start a security crackdown in Basrah in a bid to rid it of death squads and to stop mortar attacks on residential areas, Iraqi authorities announced Thursday. Authorities in the mainly Shiite city of Basrah openly acknowledge that the local police force has been infiltrated by militia, and that corruption is widespread.
Hammadi said the security operation, which will include both Iraqi and the mainly British forces deployed in southern Iraq, would take place over the next few months and would include all sectors of the city.
Hammadi said the plan aimed to stabilise the situation in Basrah to the point where Iraqi forces could take over the handling of security from coalition troops. The handover of security control to Iraqi forces is a key element of any eventual drawdown of international troops
The violence has been mostly between Shiite groups battling each other for power as well as attacking Sunni Arabs in the city. In an effort to tackle the police problem, authorities were also trying to find new recruits, the deputy minister said, although the force is already over-staffed. The selection process for another 200 policemen will be stringent and will include people from all backgrounds, including Sunnis and Christians, al-Tahir said.
COMMENT: Sunni insurgency in its various forms has had relatively little influence in the south. Instability in the south comes mostly from violence created by Shia factions such as Moqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi army - rival to the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) and its militant arm, the Badr Corps; the Fadheela Party militias, agents of Iran and outlaw tribes. COMMENT ENDS.

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